Technology of the future

Mark Samuels is fed up with the stale argument that divides the generations when it comes to technology.

The Doctor's Surgery: Dr Mark Samuels, editor at advisory organisation CIO Connect, examines the future role of the IT leader in his monthly column.

I never again want to hear a keynote speaker at an IT event talking about how children use technology in a different way to their parents.

You know the narrative by now: basically, young people are different. While parents across the globe struggle to use the TV remote control properly, their children are multi-tasking across multiple devices and applications.

It is impossible to speculate how the children of today will cope with the business of tomorrow because it will be nothing like the workplace we know now.

The story ends with parents scratching their heads in bewilderment and children ruling the digital world in decade or two. But nothing is so simple. The story of fantastically advanced children is stale because it’s been told too many times.

The tale of technology is far more nuanced than a generalisation based on age difference. Technology, in itself, is just a tool – it only becomes useful and important when actors interact with devices, apps and data.

Putting the power to collaborate in the hands of inexperienced individuals, of whatever age, has its plus sides and its down points. For every positive collaborative project there’s a cyber bullying problem and a riot organised by instant messaging.

IT experts often speculate what the future of the workplace will be like when younger people, who supposedly think nothing of posting personal details online, are running UK plc. The fear is that a naturally open generation will not be able to cope with the controlled world of global business.

But that simple presumption fails to recognise one simple fact: differences between individuals will not matter if every person is open and honest online. It won’t matter if there are pictures of the junior executive drunk on Facebook because the boss will have similar snaps on their profile, too.

People with an inherently open nature might not fit into the traditional locked down firm. But business is already changing. We are moving at breakneck speed to an information age, where everyone has access to powerful computers in the palms of their hands and everything is kept, tagged and recorded.

It is impossible to speculate how the children of today will cope with the business of tomorrow because it will be nothing like the workplace we know now.

So, in short – don’t worry about disturbing details of drunken debauchery appearing during the party season because, in the future, nothing will be secret.