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Productivity: Working toward a More Personal Future

By Eric Johnson, CIO, DocuSign


Eric Johnson, CIO, DocuSign

Whether at work or taking care of personal tasks, I want to be able to do things on the go. I don't want to be tethered, and I want to get things done as seamlessly and easily as possible. From my mobile phone–whether sitting in an Uber, on a train or in a line–I can schedule travel, do my expenses or sign off on an agreement or contract. All of that saves what is for most of us a precious resource–time.

The constant need for more time is common across today’s workforce. We are always looking to do more in less time.

The great gift of modern productivity software is that of more time to spend on the things we want to do, because technology helps us complete the things we have to do–mostly administrative tasks–faster. And when it comes to traditional thinking about productivity tools, the consumer market has completely changed expectations for the enterprise—the lines are blurring between the personal and the professional.

As we look to the future, trends in mobility, connectivity and biometric technology will forge even greater achievements in enhancing productivity–giving us more invaluable gifts of both personal and professional time.

Consider how the expansion of biometric capabilities will change everyday experiences like walking into an office building. “Badging” yourself in takes on new meaning when you are touching a screen with your thumb to do it. Consider walking into a conference room and with that thumbprint, the room essentially knows who you are and which WebEx or video conferencing information is required to turn on everything. It’s like the memory button for your car’s driver’s seat on steroids.

“  The great gift of modern productivity software is that of more time to spend on the things we want to do, because technology helps us complete the things we have to do  ”

I don't know about you, but when I walk into a room now I am confronted with what feels like a thousand wires, and some weird contraption on the table begging to be configured before it will work. Maybe there’s a touchscreen console. Good luck getting it to connect to the TV on the wall that’s connected to the camera. Think of how much time is wasted at the start of nearly every meeting getting the conference equipment to work.

That tangle of wires will feel prehistoric in just five years. Technology is starting to understand who you are when you enter a room or when you're engaging with it, so that you don't have to do as much work to get it to work. It may not be broadly applied yet in every corporation, but it's there. The challenge ahead is around how to package it, how to get the price point right and simplify the technology to where it's really easy to deploy and consume.

From a productivity perspective, we're finally starting to remove obstacles to doing our job and getting on with our lives. You see it in the simplest things like password management and the host of single sign-on solutions that have proliferated.

Over the next several years, productivity will take a big leap forward as the Internet of Things matures and develops into an elegant, sensor-filled meshthat can collect and monitor information about who people are, where people are, and what those people's preferences are.

As the notion of identity becomes richer in a hyper-networked world, historical barriers to productivity will fall away as connected objects understand immediately who you are and in short order understand what it is you want to accomplish. The interaction with technology should be almost invisible, and we’ll get ever closer to that.

One big challenge for all of this will be integrating hardware and software across a multitude of platforms in a highly competitive marketplace. On a consumer level, we see that challenge playing out in home automation as Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft and others work on solutions in a market where there currently is no standard platform and little compatibility.

But I don't think we're so far away.

In the next five years, we’ll be more deeply into a wire-free world. You’ll arrive at a corporate office and when you badge in as an employee the system will know who you are and will greet you with a “hi, Eric. Here's what you need for your 2:30 meeting, or do you want to do an ad hoc meeting now? Push the button."

Click. And then everything starts for you. It already logs you in.  It knows who you are.

That’s real productivity.It takes the wasted time out of our day giving us more time for what’s important. And speaking of time, this enhanced productivity technology will be here in the not-so-distant future.

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