The Future of Work, Ten Years Ago.


Ten years ago (time flies me droogies), I was hired to work for a few months in the JWT account planning department on Microsoft. It was one of the highlights of my planning career.

One of the key assignments was something we called the “Future of Work.” I wrote a trends deck that acted as a starting point for the assignment. I’ll be sharing key insights from that deck over the next week or so to see it they still hold up 10 years later. (When written, the deck was only about trends, not about selling product. Eventually it morphed towards an Office 365 piece, where it was to help defend against Google Docs – it is a business after all. My approach was upstream however.) Insight number one:

  1. Most of the innovation in technology over the past 4-5 years has been on the consumer side.

Prior to Facebook, most major technology innovations were business to business. Mainframes, LANs, PCs, private date lines, enterprise (corporate) email systems, cell phones, and VOIP and voice mail. But this all changed in the middle aughts when Twitter, Facebook, the iPhone, Kindle, Netflix, the App Store, Foursquare and tablets emerged. Developing and marketing products directly to consumers rather than IT departments forced technology to be user-friendly. Accessible. It was a sea change. It was a cleansing moment. Ease of use paved the way for use and innovation. The market was not just the geeks who understood PC Magazine, but everybody.

Implication for the Future Of Work (FOW): With all the action on the consumer side, someone could fill the innovation void on the business side of the market. Business workers could thrive thanks to usability-inspired innovation.