I imagine everyone coming into a boardroom for a meeting. Then, someone turns on the projector, and everyone waits a few moments for it to whir into action. Then, finally, the hologram of an executive in charge of this particular group, who is once again travelling, appears before them. His image flickers, his words come out choppy, and despite fears of reprisal, several people in the room roll their eyes.
It’s really no wonder that 40 percent of employees believe holograms will never, ever become a means of remote connectivity.
To be more precise, it’s only 40 percent of employees who say this, and what they actually say is that holograms are among the technology changes least likely to happen. It’s just one of several stats from the Global Evolving Workforce Study, a joint research project from Dell and Intel that was first launched in 2011. In some respects, it may seem like a rather random fact — more like a factoid — in an otherwise comprehensive survey of more than 5,000 employees in 12 countries. In my mind, however, it’s a good sign that employees have learned a lot about what technology can deliver, and the areas where there’s more promise than actual potential.
For example, while employees in the study said they spend an average of four hours a week working outside the office, the vast majority, or 97 percent, have to come into the office at some point. They’re okay with remote working, but not so tied to it that they’d prefer a hologram to an in-person encounter. Even when they’re next to each other, 51 per cent still use instant message or other means to connect, so a hologram might be considered a little too in-your-face to be helpful.
Today’s employees aren’t luddites, either. In fact, they strike me as a little over-optimistic, with 87 percent predicting tablets will completely replace laptops and 92 percent believing voice recognition will replace keyboards. Overall, 76 percent said they feel technology has influenced the way they work. If something like holograms were introduced, it may bring a certain novelty factor, but if it puts people through the growing pains they have experienced with VoIP, videoconferencing and other collaboration tools, it would never last long.
Overall, I found the data in this report pretty interesting, if not totally surprising, and I wish Canada had been included in the worldwide sample. The biggest takeaway is that, for better or for worse, CIOs and their teams have set employee expectations pretty firmly. It may turn out that if they can get them to believe in the value of holograms at work, they may be able to change almost anything else in the enterprise.