Unfolding plans 17 – Who remembers the future?

Who remembers the future?  We were going to be living in the sky, with hover cars to get us about and robots to do our bidding.  We were going to wear futuristic clothes, usually in silver and have pills instead of meals.  Do you remember that happening?

In the movie ‘Back to the future’ 2015 was the future that we would go back to.  My wife always gets confused at this point.  How do you go back to the future?  How many of you got a hover board for Christmas?  Check out the clothes that they wear in the movie. It’s funny how the future is always portrayed in the context of when it was imagined.  The Jetsons look like they are from the fifties and Marty McFly is so eighties.  Will our future look like it’s from the teens?

Today is the fastest day in the history of technology ever!  Every day the technology we have at our disposal is getting faster and faster, more and more powerful.  Things that we took to be cutting edge at one time, the pinnacle of human achievement very soon go out of date.  Who remembers the BBC micro from school?  If you were dead posh you might have had one at home.  The Psion Organiser was what turned me onto technology.  You had to put batteries in and the applications were run from cartridges which went in slots on the side.  I got an iPAQ after that.  It was fantastic and I felt I was the dogs.

So today is the fastest day in the history of technology, ever yet today is the slowest day in the future of technology. When we go back to the future everything is going to be so much quicker than today.  Mors law will see to that.

How long will it be before gadgets like smart watches and Google Glass will look obsolescent, out of date and a bit laughable.  (Google have now announced that they are to withdraw Google Glass.)

Nothing runs in the council without ICT.  There is no service that does not rely upon ICT to deliver their services.  The dependency upon ICT will only become greater in the future in whatever cycle of business that you care to look at: Birth to bereavement; Procure to pay; Recruitment to retirement.

As we have seen, predicting the future is very difficult, if not impossible.  Perhaps it would help if were a time lord and could nip backwards and forwards through space and time and had a sonic screwdriver.  But I’m not and I don’t.

But there are some things that we can be pretty certain about.  Here are some predictions for my organisation’s future:

There will be less money.  Since I joined, we have made savings approaching half of the services’ net budget.  These have been realised by a mixture of supplies and services,  a reduction in the number of people and  through a lot of hard work.  ICT has also played a major role in helping the delivery services achieve their savings objectives.

We are getting older.  The proportion of the elderly is getting greater and greater.  In China, the world’s most-populous country, the number of working-age adults for each person 65 or older will shrink from 7.9 in 2010 to 1.6 in 2100. The ratio in India, the world’s second-most-populous country, will decrease from 11.1 in 2010 to 2.0 in 2100.  The United Kingdom drops from 3.6 to 1.6.  Who is going to pay for all of the retired?

We’re going to see lots of new technology, things that we haven’t thought of and some that we can’t even yet imagine.  Wearables, nanobots, quantum computing, roll up laptops.  Who knows what, where and when?

We’ll have smarter customers.  Millennials or generation Y people will be all grown up and using our services.  There are already increasing levels of expectation from users and a greater reliance on technology.  People are expecting to have everything available on line, to be able to do everything with their thumb.  We’ve seen that there will be rapid innovation in technology and rapid movement in the market and so a key issue will be the public’s ability to adapt to and adopt technology.  The consumerisation of ICT will continue.  Expensive things will be cheap.  Scarce things will become ubiquitous.  Our customers will be better informed, more able to make decisions, or at least some of them will.  And the ability of the legislators to keep up and expect us to adhere to standards will be thoroughly challenged.

And in the future change will be more rapid.  Rapid change will be a constant.  If you’re struggling to keep up now you’d better watch out because we are going back to the future.

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