How many of you remember the "Home of Future" exhibit at Disneyland or Disney World? Room by room, you "toured" a future home that included really mind blowing technology like…a microwave. Back when I was young, it looked part-Jetson's and part-fantasy. I thought about that exhibit for years afterward and was crushed when it was removed. Flash forward to my adult years when I had an opportunity to tour Microsoft's full-scale Home of the Future in Bellevue. The scenario was much the same in that it predicted our home lives in future years. I was blown away by the thought of a recipe produced on my countertop based on ingredients on hand in the house, and loved the idea of a grocery list created by scanning each item before it is used. Even the simple concept of changing the mood of home lighting based on each person's preferences seemed revolutionary at the time.
Today, I am awed by the Internet of Things (IoT) and the way even my simple home is connected and "smart." I push a button to reorder my laundry detergent, dish detergent and paper towels…I tell Alexa when I throw out an item to add it to the grocery list…my dishwasher can text me when it needs a repair…and my garage door can let me know when it is opened and closed…not to mention the alerts I get for all the other doors and windows in the house (much to the chagrin of my teen aged kids). My Nest keeps track of my electricity consumption and Alexa can even control my lighting. I use Sonos for a wireless sound system throughout the house and have sensors to locate my keys, purse and wallet. I am not quite at the "Jetson's" stage, but life is so much easier with these technologies.
The IoT is defined by Pew Research Center as a "global, immersive, invisible, ambient networked computing environment built through the continued proliferation of smart sensors, cameras, software, databases and massive data centers in the world-spanning information fabric." The term "Internet of Things" was coined in 1999 by the MIT researcher Kevin Ashton who, in an article for the RFID journal wrote, "If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things - using data they gathered without any help from us - we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost." The irony is that in 1999 the technology didn't exist to make the theory of the IoT a reality. Today it is actually possible to make this happen with the advancements in technology.
Okay, why am I geeking out? I was fortunate enough to spend a week in January at Singularity University, at NASA Ames Research Facility in the Bay Area with 92 students from 26 countries. My classmates included people as diverse as government ministers, scientists, futurists, doctors and business people. Executives from the entertainment industry were there to think about how we will spend time once driverless cars are the norm and how they want to be the "product of choice" for you to pass the time. I met with people who made the first gravity-free 3D printer (currently installed in the Space Station), as well as neuroscientists who are mapping our brain activity to potentially repair memories in patients with dementia or other impaired brain diseases. If you are ever looking for a life-changing event, I highly recommend that you invest the time and apply to this Executive Program. John Sculley is the reason I went - he mentioned at a recent Summit that at age 70, he attended the program and it blew his mind. If John Sculley - one of the innovators of our time was flabbergasted by what he learned, I knew it was something I wanted to attend. It delivered everything John said it would and more.
I am so excited about the future and how it is going to dramatically impact our industry that I find myself looking for ways to bring it to you sooner. With that in mind, we are going to be programming a robot (bot) live at the next Summit on a standard process you all experience on a regular basis. Throughout the event, you will be able to watch as Symphony Ventures uses Blue Prism software to onboard a Denali Group contractor at Honda. It will involve automating all the steps required, such as completing a background checking, investigating the rates in PeopleTicker technology, clearing a security check and issuing a badge for Honda building access. At the Summit we will also demo a 3D printer to show the future of printing and spur conversation on how this technology will impact our supply chains. It seems hard to imagine now, but there will likely be a time in the not-so-distant future when our own home printers will be able to print what we need in plastic, metals and maybe even food products. We will also have a Beam Robot "walking" around the Summit so our offsite employees will feel like they are not missing out.
Please know that SIG is dedicated to pushing our industry as we embrace the future and hope we can bring you along for the ride by coming up with solutions you need before you even know you need them. If you are interested in geeking out with me a little more, let me know…I'm happy to share a list of the books I'm reading post-Singularity and as you can see, I LOVE to talk about the future of work! I hope to see all of you at the upcoming Summit in Amelia Island!