Wednesday, May 9, 2012

As it turns out - Resistance WAS Futile!

If you're a technology professional, odds are that you've watched your own fair share of Star Trek.  And every "Trekkie" knows about the Borg.  They were the ultimate villain - superior technology, very adaptable, and relentless.  Like a bad virus or Miley Cyrus song, they barreled through the Galaxy sweeping everyone and everything into their collective.  For the Borg, every piece of technology integrated brought them one step closer to perfection.  While each new piece of tech, it changed them together.  Like a school of fish swimming in unison, so moved the Borg.

As we all know, every good character on TV or the silver screen needs a catch phrase.  For Arnold Schwarzenegger, it was, "I'll be back!"  For the Borg it was "Resistance is futile!"  What the Borg meant is that no matter what you did, the end was going to be the same.  You were going to end up assimilated in their Collective with a cool, albeit weird set of black-green armor and a funky laser eye patch.  You would lose all your free will and essentially become a willing drone in a vast army of like-minded creatures, all doing and thinking the same things.

Well, the Borg may have disappeared with the end of the various Trek series but their legacy lives on in our lives.  Whether you know it or not, you have become assimilated by your own technology.  You may not have the fancy drone armor, but you probably don't go anywhere without a phone in your pocket, maybe an iPad, and it's highly likely that a computer is within 500 feet of you at all times.  If you're like most people, you touch, physically, some type of technology right before you go to bed and right after you rise.  In just 10 years technology has gone from being an exciting novelty to something nearer a silicon/organic symbiosis.  How many times have you thought about how much easier it would if you could just call up information directly into your brain rather than typing, scrolling, or tapping about?

Let's take a quick look back in time, starting say at about 1930:
  • In 1930, the radio had been out for almost a decade.  At night rather than going out, socializing, or even sleeping, the entire family gathered around the radio to listen to the nightly "serial".
  • In the 1950's, many families were getting TVs.  More and more activities ceased in order for people to sit, quietly, in front of a box with pictures and sound.
  • In the 1980s computers, video games, and networking emerged.  The computers weren't very portable, but Generation X became the first whole group that could not only "live" virtually within computers, they were also the first to actually be able to make a living working on them.
  • The year 2000 marked the end of almost all things analog (although I'd still like a Rolex!).  Around this time computers, processors, electronics, appliances, cars, etc. all became completely dependent on technology to function.
Today, technology is ubiquitous.  The first world is completely dependent on it as are most people.  The workplace is also completely enabled by technology.  If you don't believe this is true, imagine turning off the power to your office (please don't actually do this).  I can guarantee that, as a CIO, it would be like the world just ended.

I predict that within 10 years the need and purpose of the traditional office environment will end.  And there is nothing that any of us can do about it.  While I'm sure that offices will still exist, the employees won't need to be there in order to do their jobs. We have now had two whole generations of people born that are new in certain special ways:
  • They have always had wireless connectivity
  • They are always connected to their friends and family in a multitude of ways - texting, Facebook, etc.  (The significance of what I'm saying in this bullet is that these generations don't need to SEE you in order to be connected to you)
  • Information has always been instantly available to them.
CIOs are now, along with CEOs, responsible for the ensuring the integrity of the entire organizations.  This is no way belittles or reduces the importance of any other leadership role.  It's just a fact that because IT is in everything and soon to be in everyone, CIOs must become orchestrators rather than mechanics.   

Right now and into the future, technology will drive changes in our lives, relationships, jobs, and most everything else.  Even if you don't like technology it will influence if not outright control your behavior.  So maybe the Borg were actually real and not just a story that you saw on TV or the silver screen.

Resistance was futile - You have been assimilated

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