Just as personal computers, fax machines, the Internet, microprocessors and mobile phones have revolutionized the way business is conducted, the next generation of technology tools also will dramatically change the way we work. Here are just a few of these tools:
- Self-healing software — This will enable computers to configure, diagnose and repair problems before the user detects them.
- Miniature wireless communication tools — Widely used today, these unobtrusive, portable tools are expected to become increasingly sophisticated in the years ahead. Upcoming generations will combine the functions of multiple pieces of hardware — such as personal computer, phone, fax, scanner, electronic organizer or camera — into a single convenient device. Professionals will use them to participate in videoconferences; check e–mail; return calls; upload and download documents; distribute reports; collaborate on projects; conduct research; schedule virtual meetings; scan printed documents or images; and send or receive text, audio and video. The tools will provide access to corporate headquarters, an instant office center, the Internet, colleagues' computers, the user's own home desktop or a library database.
- Interactive office spaces — By the year 2020, offices are expected to be embedded with sensors or "motes" that monitor and maintain the environment — including temperature, humidity and lighting — and respond to users' needs. (For example, a mote in your chair could detect tension in your body and signal the chair to give you a back massage.)