Perspective Newsletter


If you would like to receive Perspective - our monthly newsletter – which brings you all of our latest news and views as well as interviews and opinion pieces then please follow the link below...

Read more

What were you doing 5 years ago and what will you be doing in 5 years time?

4 March 2016

With the advance of technology who knows what the future holds, but we know that changes are afoot. I spoke to two Chief Executives and asked them about their predictions. Russell Howarth is CEO of Nominet and Peter Hutton is CEO of Eurosport, owned by Discovery Communications.

5 years ago we were all reading the newspaper in print, now we pick up our various gadgets whether they are tablets or phones and read online, how time changes.  I asked them how they see reading content developing even further in 5 years’ time.  Peter Hutton sees social media being at the forefront for the future, he explained “Whatever technology best leads you into social media, whether a watch, a phone or a bigger screen will be the primary route to information as social media drives you to new stories or new ideas. However, I still think for more in depth content, whether literature or my daily Killer Sudoku puzzle, there is still a role for print.” Yet Russell Howarth commented “Through predictive AI and behavioural mapping, content will be chosen based on peer evaluation and will be delivered via interactive voice command/control (see this video if you need any proof of what’s to come!)”

I also prompted debate around the biggest changes in IT departments within organisations in terms of how they are staffed and how they operate. Peter’s comment was quite simple “Will we actually be able to find where they are?” True enough perhaps for a large organisation whereas Russell believes that there will be “much bigger focus on network security and analytics to mitigate IP/customer data loss and a continuing shift to cloud based applications all integrated over multiple platforms. IoT technology and encryption will play an increasingly important role whether a service or product company demand from the business for increased data and analytics will drive more demand for data scientists to be a core part of BI”.

What is true of your organisation?

Moving to the gadgets that we use today I asked them both what device has had the biggest impact on the way they operate and how will that change in 5 years’ time? “Over the last few years, Smartphones are the most common device that shaped the way consumers interact and transact. Speeds of broadband have increased digital adoption across all demographics” stated Russell whereas Peter’s most used device is “my son’s I-pad, which most activities in the house seem to revolve around (either finding it or switching it off). In 5 years’ time I accept I will have lost the battle and he will be walking round with a headset.”

That is true in many a household and will no doubt only get worse!

On the subject of children I was intrigued to know their thoughts on the classroom experience of those born in 2016 as opposed to those people born in 1970.

A frightening thought if you think back to your childhood, how many gadgets if any did you have? Russell stated that “the Digital ‘Montessori’ – a freedom to explore along pathways with immediate feedback and gamification of topics to measure and reward progress may be the next step forward with children being highly immersive, interactive and collaborative … and a lot less papier-mâché!

In addition there could be “Strong demand for creative and scientific – reinforcing maths and programing … most likely less getting cold and wet on a rugby field, and more competing over a simulated 7D experience where they can simulate what it feels like to be thoroughly miserable and chilled to the bone!”

Peter has similar views with a simple one liner to sum it up “Far more virtual reality experiences – immersion in a topic, a place an idea”.

Finally to end our discussion and take us all to a place of warmth and beauty with nothing around, I asked them what one person from the world of technology would they want on a desert island. “Oh, with the prospect to entertain myself, keep fit and eat I’d need at least George Foreman (consumer tech!) for some grillin!” laughed Russell. Quite simple for Peter “The man who can make my Derby County stream work”.

Interesting replies and much food for thought from both CEO’s working in different industries. Do you have similar views on technological change? I would like to know, or who would you take to your desert island, that I would be intrigued about?

Ali Palmer is a Consultant within the Technology practice.

Categories: Technology, Entertainment & Communications


Harry Cruickshank at 16/03/2016 14:01 said:

Technology is an enabler, but will also be a replacement for human activity in certain areas. Mankind will have to become used to that, but it will surely drive social change. Digital education has already shown how the classroom can be changed, to allow children to learn at their own pace, with online support, and a teacher on hand to interact where and when necessary. The need for, and critical value, of face-to-face communication will persist and we need to ensure our children balance their reliance on devices with their ability to form strong and lasting relationships. Business will continue to find it hard to adapt to technology and disruptive forces - speed and agility will define the winners. For the desert island, I'll do for all Sky's boxed sets - that's the only way I'll find time to watch them!

Cameron Mackenzie at 10/03/2016 13:32 said:

My view is that technology is an enabler, either in doing things that we always wanted to do or, to be more efficient in managing our daily lives/business. The digital technology advances that we have seen during the last five years are very much evolution rater than revolution. Smartphones, tablets, watches, broadband access and speed have certainly enriched our lives.

I agree social media will continue to evolve and become evermore interactive. It will be interesting to see who will be the dominant players in 5 years time. Will it be the current big names or will they be usurped by a new generation!

Children today have great skills in terms of their ability to use phones, tablets etc which has really come about from playing computer games from a very young age It is quite a sobering experience to watch your children texting/writing emails while watching TV without ever looking at the keyboard!

High speed broadband, cloud based applications and encryption will certainly continue to grow. AI could well be one to watch. Finally, team sport should not be neglected as it provides many of the social skills needed in our daily lives. Verbal communication skills will always be very important.

Sam Griffith at 08/03/2016 17:50 said:

There is no doubt that our children appear to embrace new gadgets/technology with such ease it is frightening...I'm sure that's what our parents observed with our citron of the Sony Walkman and the video recorder!! I think health concerns will ensure that school sport doesn't become virtual (at least I hope so!). I agree with the comment that download speed will very quickly become our next fixation. In the village where we have our house in Cumbria we are currently giving serious consideration to installing a private fibre optic broadband network to serve the village. One of the many benefits cited is the impact on house prices! The project is being spearheaded by 2 retirees...I think that in itself speaks volumes!

Richard Villeneuve at 08/03/2016 15:15 said:

My thoughts are little bit different.
Technology devices are not disruptives, it's just an evolution not revolution. For many years, we need a cellphone, a PC or tablet and a plug. That's one of the reason why the world growth is still flat.
Technology tools should remain as a mean not a core, otherwise human relationships could be affected significantly (it's already done !). In a business angle, technology has to serve the product first. I would take as exemple an ERP implementation. So often, corporations have to comply with the a new ERP (SAP, Oracle), that is costly at the end of the integration while ERP should embrace the company specificities as well.

Simon Ward at 08/03/2016 15:03 said:

What has emerged for me in the last 5 years is the importance of download speed which has become as important as access to good schools and proximity to a station when choosing a new property.
Expectation is being driven by the increasing amount of day to day offline tasks that are moving online and a desire to be entertained with increasing amounts of streaming content and music accessible over multiple devices. Put simply over the last 5 years broadband access has advanced up the hierachy of needs to the point where it has a major impact on our quality of life and the ability to work effectively from home.
What I would take to a desert island is a Digital Radio obviously hoping to find said island had access to Digital Audio Broadcasting!