Two Concepts To Make Your Business Future Ready In Social

I’m betting on a future revolution based on augmented and instrumented reality, one that exploits social data in unprecedented ways.

One of the biggest surprises of the past 20 years is the way that the Web turned out to be all about social. That wasn’t what most pundits and prognosticators were saying circa 1999. But some did. I wrote in 1999 that a new class of tools was emerging,

This generation of software is intentional, designed from the start to guide human behavior into new paths and patterns, to counter prevailing ways of interaction. I call these social tools: software intended to shape culture.

In the hubbub about the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence (AI) and robots taking over our jobs, it’s easy to lose sight of one immovable fact: People will still be the source of a tremendous amount of data: most specifically social data. And mining that social data will have the largest enduring impact on society, more than all the twinkling sensors and AIs chattering among themselves and at us. What we say — and hear — with other people will still be the center of the Web and our world.

We may have started to grow used to the social Web as we know it today, but are we prepared for what is coming five, 10 or more years in the future? I wonder. But we clearly need to make our businesses #befutureready, and that will require us to imagine new ways to work.

Consider the recent interest in streaming video from smartphones. This might have been predicted based on the earlier growth of YouTube and the capabilities of modern cell networks, but still, the phenomenon has exploded in just the past year.

I’m betting on a future revolution based on augmented and instrumented reality, one that exploits social data in unprecedented ways.

Today, I have various plug-ins for my browser that pull up social information when I receive emails, mining data from LinkedIn and other sources to provide a dossier on the send of a message.

But in a few years I expect I’ll be wearing devices that will whisper in my ear, telling me that the man across the hotel lobby waving at me is so-and-so whom I met at a conference in San Francisco on June 7, 2012, and he now works at Google in the deep learning group. My phone will vibrate in a particular way to let me know that one of my closest friends is within 100 meters, and when I pull it out to see who it is, his five most recent tweets will be displayed, along with various bits of personal information he has shared with me, like his upcoming travel plans. We’ll be in London at the same time next month! I mumble a reminder to connect while there.

Glancing at my watch, I see a notification about my upcoming meeting, telling me that my client is bringing along a colleague, Ellen, from a different product line, and a well-trained ‘bot has summarized recent stories about the product and the executive’s background. I walk out the door, heading to the meeting, and the ‘bot is reading the synopsis to me while I glance at several photos of Ellen on my watch. I learn that Ellen worked with a close friend at a startup a few years earlier, because my ‘bot has read a dozen press releases and articles that mention Ellen.

In the near future, search will be replaced by AI-based premonition, leveraging deep understanding of our connections and goals. And I can’t wait, honestly. Consider how AI can transform core functions in the business like HR by applying more-than-human intelligence in unexpected ways.

This post was written as part of the Dell Insight Partners program, which provides news and analysis about the evolving world of tech. For more on these topics, visit Dell’s thought leadership site PowerMore. Dell sponsored this article, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dell’s positions or strategies.

Written by

Founder, Work Futures. Editor, GigaOm. My obsession is the ecology of work, and the anthropology of the future.

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