The Workplace of the Future

Yesterday I participated in a really interesting event at the University of Michigan.  Ford and Microsoft co-sponsored an event for business students to discuss what the workplace of the future would look like.  We discussed four specific topics: mobility, social networking in the enterprise, desktop/telephony, and in-vehicle. 

I moderated the mobility conversation.  Here are some stats on how 15 college students use mobile devices now:

  • All 15 have cell phones.  Of those, 3 use their phones to access the Internet and 6 listen to music on their phones. 
  • 14 have laptops. 
  • 12 have mp3 players (Zunes, iPods, etc.)
  • 6 use GPS units in their cars. 
  • 0 have Tablet PCs or ink-enabled devices. 

The future of mobility is exciting to think about.  It's hard to wrap your head around what the "Workplace of the Future" looks like in a generic office space, but when we started thinking about some specific domains, the ideas began flowing:

Healthcare: All doctors should use Tablet PCs.  Each examination room has a docking station, so the doctor can carry in their Tablet PC, dock it, and pull up your patient information, allergies, etc.  At the end of your appointment, the doctor can send a prescription to the check-out desk for the receptionist to print or send it directly to your pharmacy. 

Sales: At a car dealership, the sales force has access to product information (the cars' different colors and options) and customer information (what was the last car this customer bought) at their desk - mobile devices would allow them to carry this information with them when showing cars on the lot, too. 

Financial: Some of the business students are going to work on Wall Street after graduation.  In this lifestyle, they will definitely need mobile devices to check stock prices and buy/sell stock. 

Government: When a police officer pulls you over (say for speeding), the worst part is when you've made your excuses and the police officer goes back to his car to check your record and decide whether or not to give you a ticket, while you wait nervously.  We want police officers to carry mobile devices and bring them right to your car window...what efficiency!  :) 

It was a creative group of students and a very fun night.  I also videotaped some of the students' thoughts, and I'm in the process of putting them together into a webcast for Code To Live.