The Future Is Here and Living in Your Smartphone

Apple sent out a few loud and clear messages at their Worldwide Developers Conference this week. They announced some great new products and the media is fixated on them. But the products are not the message. The capabilities of those products and the future direction they establish are what’s interesting.

Here’s my interpretation of the announcements.

1. Social Media technologies are the future. You can poke fun at Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and all the other social media services. But, there’s no denying that social media capabilities are in demand and growing fast.

I don’t know if companies like Twitter and Facebook will survive long-term but I know that the foundations they’re pouring will endure. People want to be connected. We want to share, be informed and meet other people.

What does this mean for your company? Are you using any social media tools for business? Can your employees openly share information? Can they subscribe to internal information threads that interest them?

Here’s an idea: Stop sending spam (a.k.a. email messages) to your employees with all kinds of mundane corporate announcements. Instead, let them subscribe to information channels and get the information they want. Once they get a taste of how convenient this is, they’ll come up with all kinds of ideas for improving productivity.

2. Geolocation services are a big thing. We want to know exactly where we are in relation to places and people we know. We want to know how to get where we’re going simply and safely.

Obvious, right? How long have humans been using maps? Over 12,000 years.

Think about what this means for your company. If you have many people that travel, you need to provide them with geolocation tools. Whether they travel locally or around the globe, helping them travel safely and quickly can be a big win.

How many buildings does your company occupy? How big are those structures? Do people often visit multiple facilities? Forget paper maps. Distribute all your facility maps electronically. You can even track equipment and people (with their approval) inside your building to help them get around and find others. Think of the efficiency improvements.

3. Voice input has come of age. Our computer systems have become too complex. Even the diminutive smartphone has become so complex that many of us have trouble understanding all the features. Even when we do, finding apps and information becomes a huge hurdle amidst all the messages and icons.

The solution doesn’t lie in improved point-and-click methods — been there, done that. The solution lies in a combination of voice input and semantic search technology. Simply ask the system a question and it will either provide the answer or give you a list of possible answers.

If your company develops software, even if only for internal use, you need to be thinking about voice input and semantic search. Too many hours are being wasted simply because your employees can’t find what they’re looking for. No amount of training will solve the problem. Training only reduces the aggravation level.

Being agile is more than a set of principles or even a mindset.

People need to feel empowered and they need tools that help them feel connected and in control. The technologies mentioned here are changing the way we work and play. Apple gets it. Does your company?

Updated: June 12, 2012 — 9:45 pm