I was cruising through the news for a good story and came across the headline, 'Fastest ever' broadband passes speed test’. This peaked my attention, ironically as my broadband cut out with the message ‘not enough bandwidth’ – even with the ‘so called’ super fast fibre broadband connection. Determined to find out more I finally logged back in after a short wait. Apparently speeds of 1.4 terabits per second were achieved during the test - enough to send 44 uncompressed HD films a second. To put that into context, according to Ofcom, the current fastest package - based on average speed - is Virgin Media's 120 megabits per second. There are 1,024 megabits in just one gigabit and 1,024 gigabits in one terabit. Even Google who are installing superfast infrastructure in select places say their typical speed is ‘only’ around 1000 megabits per second.
This means that much more information can be sent through existing broadband infrastructure, especially with the demand for higher bandwidth growing by around 35% every year. Being a well seasoned ‘people professional’ this made me think about the implications in the workplace. The techno-revolution has gathered momentum and this is one of the latest leaps forward which propel us further into fully automated working lives. But can we cope with so much change happening so fast? Change is nothing new but digital change is both enabling new and more effective ways of working as well as calling for a whole new skillset for many workers.
Whilst I could discuss the impact of the full gamut of digital advances on people I’ll focus back on some of the pros and cons that super, mega fastest ever broadband (or ‘teraband’ from now on) might bring.
Virtual Working – adapt or get left behind
Virtual working, increasingly popular, is enabled by technology. The increase in flexibility brings relief to many and infuriates others as we all struggle to work out the best ways of working for employer and employee. What does teraband add? Teraband adds the capability for almost exponential amounts of information to be shared at super speed. However we must consider what impact this will have on employees. Miller coined the phrase 7+/-2 in the 1950’s referring to how much information people can remember This highlights that our evolution is much slower than the technology revolution and this latest advance may require people to process information, and understand how to best use technology faster than ever before. What is likely to happen is a more divisive workplace – those who know how do and those who don’t adapt or get left behind – natural selection gone digital.
Meetings – see you in cyberspace in 5
For many people, meetings are no longer solely the face-to-face, look them in the whites of the eyes, sessions. We are now expected to be conducting meetings with colleagues and clients across the city, country or globe using an array of technology such as conference calls, virtual meetings (Skype, Live Meeting, Facetime to name a few), real time data sharing etc. However new ‘teraband’ would enable so much more to be communicated. Whole programmes could be run in real time, video technology could be more easily integrated into sharing presentations – we could make use of new ‘Nintendo Wi/Minority report’ style real movement of information to share data better, faster and more of it. Virtual environments / offices can be set up to have multiple meetings whilst still all be in the same place. This is not all fiction – as for example the new Samsung S9C OLED television allows two + people to watch different programmes on the same screen using 3d glasses technology. This could enable so much more to be achieved pushing the humble meeting to a whole new level.
Learning & Development – Level 7 complete
One area of work experiencing a boom in use of technology is learning and development. Training and learning are often a blend of face to face and e-learning with increasing moves towards self service. New approaches including gamification, and use of m-learning (mobile technology, MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses)) for the learner for the L&D back office and (e.g. Tin Can LMS reporting) are being more commonplace. Teraband can simply improve both reliability of connection over computer and mobile phone alike as well as supporting more data rich learning media e.g. videos, virtual classrooms, music/audio and gaming. The impact on the learner is being offered a richer learning experience in keeping with increased usage of technology in everyday life.
Beam me up Scotty
So whilst this doesn’t quite usher in the era of teleporting just yet, teraband might just well usher in a new era of connectivity. The workforce is now connected in many ways so that it is harder to be disconnected than linked up – thanks to social media, internet, email and soon teraband. The question is really how to keep people up with the change or even ahead of the curve so both employer and employee benefit from this advance. Vastly improved data flow, virtual environments, gamified learning can set businesses apart, keeping pace is the big challenge. Will I be signing up to teraband? You bet, but I’ll be upgrading my knowledge now to be ready.