We have seen many breakthroughs in technology as innovators continue to improve the way we work. Lately, through Robotic Process Automation (RPA), robots take over repetitive external “lookups” to save humans’ time, and machine learning enables processes to be predictive and more efficient.
Imagine the near future. What could be next? Sending information at the speed of thought.
“Imagine the efficiencies that you will get once we can tap directly into the brain. So the computing platforms of the future can anticipate what you want seamlessly and you can send information at the speed of thought.”
— Tan Le, Inventor and Technology Entrepreneur, Co-founder of Emotiv, Breakthrough: The Ideas that Changed the World
In a recent episode of the PBS series “Breakthrough: The Ideas that Changed the World,” I saw a woman wearing an EEG headset able to control the movement of a robotic ball. How? The headset read her brainwaves, transmitted them to her smartphone, and the phone translated the electrical impulses into commands to move, stop and turn the ball. It was a view into the future. I was thinking how in the Workplace of the Future, workers could launch workflows through their nonverbal thoughts.
But it also made me think about the other end of that innovation spectrum, where organizations are still not embracing their digital transformation from manual processes to that first step into the digital world. I’d like to think that most organizations have now minimized paper for digital assets, and moved on to tackle all their repetitive processes so they can be automated — but I know it is not realistic.
Organizations are most successful when they target the tasks to automate and reduce the steps to complete the tasks. Assessing their current state and building that plan for automation puts the organization on the right track to transform its operations and gain efficiencies.
We have seen that taking the time to do a comprehensive assessment provides the organization with a roadmap that not only senior management understands, but users embrace. With technological changes happening so quickly, operating in a vacuum could mean you miss out on the latest processes and best practices that will work for your company to achieve its goals.
In the “science fictiony” sense, Le says, “We are applying science to make ‘The Force’ come alive.” Other companies and entrepreneurs are developing systems and thought-processing technology with an eye toward breakthroughs, from neuro-gaming to controlling artificial limbs and typing thoughts with your brain. Entrepreneurs Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg are at the forefront, investigating how this technology can bring their companies to the next level.
“There are really no limits to the kinds of things that we can control. We can do anything from turning on your TV to program your TV channels, Netflix turning on/off the lights. And the most powerful thing is all we’re using is your brain. You do all of that simply by thinking,” says Le.
Operating at the speed of thought may be the ultimate level of efficiency, and I have no doubt we will see innovative processes leverage this technology in the near future. But for now, setting up rules to automatically trigger workflows and enhancing those workflows with RPA to take on the external steps that humans previously had to do is our current state of innovation.
As we wait for the future of thought-processing, operating at the speed of seamless automation, with as many processes as make sense for your organization, is the place to be today.
Joanne E. Novak
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