The Ericsson IndustryLab report, The Dematerialized Office explores the white-collar employee perspective on a potential future reality where digital technology by 2030 could interact with our senses of sight, sound, taste, smell and touch.
The pandemic as a digital tipping point
Welcome to the future workplace. But what does that workplace look like?
We surveyed over 8,400 white collar workers who are early adopters of AR, VR or virtual assistants from 16 countries, representing around 133 million people, about their expectations of the future workspace. They anticipate:
- A digital workstation that transforms with each task
- A virtual cake from a colleague that you can even taste
- Interactive digital meetings with people rather than being passively stuck behind a screen all day
- But also, future business that takes place digitally, where you can visit virtual stores and warehouses
This year’s pandemic has changed the mindset of many companies and their employees. In our report we present a vision of the internet of senses in the 2030 workplace and explore the challenges and opportunities that this could present.
Key findings from the report
01. Employees want an internet of senses for work
Imagine a fully immersive office experience, where all sensory experiences are digitally interactive. By 2030, the dematerialized office may be a reality. And for those working from home, the full-sense digital home office will also get a boost. In fact, half of respondents want a digital workstation allowing full-sense presence at work from anywhere. Today, companies direct their funds into maintaining physical office space, but in the future, respondents hope this will be geared towards improving their home office environment.
02. The pandemic has become a digital tipping point
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the mindset of many companies and their employees. After months of working on their computers at home, constantly engaged in video meetings in their sometimes chaotic home environments, nearly 6 in 10 foresee a permanent increase in online meetings. They are also realizing that while connectivity is more important than ever before, digital meetings need to evolve before they become as effective as the real thing. There is simply a need for tools that better support remote interaction.
03. The sustainable dematerialized office
Dematerialization of the office will be driven by efficiency gains and sales, but the environment is also expected to benefit. With virtual offices for example, there would be no need to commute, or for companies to keep physical office spaces running. As many as 77 percent indicate that an internet of senses for business use would make companies more sustainable.
04. Virtual interaction with clients and colleagues
How about a team building trip to Pompeii? What if Vesuvius suddenly erupted and engulfed you in lava, there would be a lot to talk about around the virtual water cooler later. Team building becomes more important when there are fewer physical meetings, but virtual interaction has other benefits for companies too. 50 percent are saying that digital temperature will be used to more immersively engage customers by 2030. Providing immersive full-sense sales environments, such as a virtual shopping mall or warehouse will enable customers to digitally try before they buy.
05. A taste of the future
Not a fan of the food in the canteen? Respondents think internet of senses technology will also be used inside companies and could help with this. 73 percent of senior managers believe that food in the company canteen can be digitally enhanced to taste like anything by 2030, opening up for optimization of both cost and perceived quality.
06. Security and privacy are key barriers
Privacy is increasingly set to become a critical challenge filled with paradoxes over the next decade. While many employees see the benefits of enhanced technology there is also a lot of fear. As digital interaction moves beyond sound and vision to incorporate all our senses, and potentially also enables functionality such as thought control of devices, the avenues for fraud, manipulation and identity theft will grow exponentially. While 66 percent think that by 2030, technology will enable them to sense when a colleague is upset, that also means their employer will know when they themselves are upset. The challenge will be in finding a balance that allows for fast adoption of digital technology in the workplace, while also respecting the integrity of employees.
Tech Influencer, Fisayo Fosudo, Reveals How MTN Data Helped Him Follow His Passion
“The internet could be a very positive step towards education, organization, and participation in a meaningful society” -Noam Chomsky
At the exclusive unveiling of the new MTN Pulse campaign, which was held on Friday, November 27, 2020, YouTuber, visual storyteller, and content creator, Fisayo Fosudo recounted how he started out studying Economics at the university due to his parents’ preference for a science or commercial related field although his passion was in the arts, as he loved to draw.
He continued to tilt towards the arts due to his creative side, which eventually led him to take a course in Graphics Design. Graphics design jobs eventually paid for the rest of his University education and his upkeep in school. This helped to relieve the financial burden that his parents would have hitherto had to deal with.
Following his passion is responsible for the several partnerships he has forged with various local and international organizations, allowing him to create visual content for over 50 brands and counting, with significant impact on their bottom line.
In his words, “I decided to focus on the things I was passionate about like creating content. MTN was very instrumental to this as I was able to take advantage of their low data plans to take online courses. Affordable internet access at that time was very important to me and I wouldn’t know any of the things I know today, if not for internet access and online learning. They all came together to form this celebrated content creator that I am known as today. I’m glad I could follow my passion and that’s my #DoYou story.”
The new MTN Pulse #DoYou campaign features a television commercial and radio jingle which encourage Nigerian youths to embrace authenticity and push for their dreams.
MTN Pulse is a prepaid tariff plan that allows customers to enjoy low call rates across all local networks in Nigeria, nightlife bundles of up to 2GB for N200 and get points, which are exchanged for free Data. MTN customers can text 406 to 131 or dial *406*1# or *123*2*2# to join MTN Pulse.
How Internet Connectivity In Public Schools Can Save Nigeria’s Education System
A year ago when secondary schools across Nigeria were kicking off the 2019/2020 academic session, not many public secondary schools in the country, especially those in the rural areas, would have listed internet connectivity as one of the essential infrastructures needed to boost learning and open a door of opportunities to the students and teachers. Today, in the space of one year, a lot has changed.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the world into a lockdown in March, has further brought to the fore, the need for internet connectivity in schools and why digital learning is essential for today’s classroom experience across the country.
Data from UNESCO revealed that, globally, over 1.2 billion children were out of the classroom in April 2020 due to the pandemic. While they were stuck at home during the lockdown, the learning of many students was halted while some in the private schools took classrooms online to make up for lost hours.
The tremendous learning opportunities that internet connectivity brings to education were better experienced during the lockdown when students and teachers took learning and interaction online where they had access to a plethora of learning resources.
Students without access to internet connectivity miss out on several educational opportunities that prepares them to function in the global economy, which in turn negatively impacts the future of the country.
Despite the challenges of infrastructure, Nigerian private schools appear to be moving with the rest of the world as they have better access to the internet to improve education and the learning experience. However, the same cannot be said about public schools who are still miles behind in internet adoption.
Cost and technology infrastructure are the two obvious barriers that worry stakeholders and educationalists. Technology infrastructure is expensive, and setting it up in public schools, where a vast majority of students come from low-income homes where they live on less than $2 per day, is another hard piece of the puzzle.
According to the American Internet Society, the best results of internet connectivity in public schools are likely to be achieved through strategic partnerships between government and private sector stakeholders like the Internet Service Providers (ISPs), as well as teachers and educational administrators which has been the case in some parts of the world.
In 2008, Nokia partnered the South African government to develop ‘MoMaths’, a wide-ranging set of maths problems that can be accessed and answered via internet-enabled mobile phones. The project gave low-income learners access to high-quality education and allowed high school pupils across South Africa to learn theory and solving sums on their handsets as a result. Research by Nokia shows that students’ average maths scores improve by an average of 14 percentage points when using the service.
In Nigeria, an example of such public-private sector synergy is the project being championed by ipNX, a pioneering and leading information, communications and technology (ICT) company.
From 2011, for a number of years, ipNX provided free internet service to 55 public secondary schools in Lagos state. The initiative, which is part of ipNX’s corporate social investment dedicated to education, was recently extended to Oyo State to solve one of the biggest impending factors limiting the adoption of e-learning in public schools.
On October 8, 2020, ipNX unveiled free high speed broadband internet services set up at two public secondary schools in Oyo State – Government College Ibadan and Bishop Phillips Academy, Monatan, in a bid to improve access to technology for students and teachers.
According to Group Executive Director, HR & Corporate Services, ipNX, Folashade Efiong-Bassey, the project “will facilitate the goals of Oyo State in improving the education, science and technology sectors, which is a vision of the administration of His Excellency, Governor Seyi Makinde.
Moreover, this initiative complements the recent Federal Government intention to implement Zero-rating for education websites as part of efforts to ameliorate the impact of Covid-19 on Nigeria’s education sector.”
In no small measure, broadband internet will provide more opportunities for students and teachers to find the best practices, create new solutions, connect and inspire each other, all towards the achievement of better learning outcomes. With the empowerment of students in this way, the digital transformation and socio-economic development of Nigeria appear to be on course.
The end goal of this investment transcends the outcome of students performance from just passing exams but to actually harnessing opportunities from scholarships, jobs, employability training, and contribution to overall national development.
As part of efforts to solve the challenge of connectivity in the country, the Nigerian government has also developed the second phase of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020 – 2025. The goal of the plan is to deliver data download speeds across Nigeria, with effective coverage available to at least 90% of the population by 2025 at a price not more than N390 per 1GB of data (i.e. 2% of median income or 1% of minimum wage).
This move by ipNX to provide internet connectivity in Nigerian public schools is another significant contribution to the actualisation of the government’s National Broadband Plan. As Nigeria moves to achieve this ambitious, but realistic plan, public-private sector partnerships like the one between ipNX and the state governments, will prove to be the much needed fuel to fire up the engine of Nigeria’s education and human development.
Household Internet Access in Urban Areas Twice as High as in Rural Areas- ITU
While virtually all urban areas in the world are covered by a mobile-broadband network, worrying gaps in connectivity and Internet access persist in rural areas, according to Measuring Digital Development: Facts and figures 2020, a new report launched today by the International Telecommunication Union.
This matters even more due to the COVID-19 crisis. Connectivity gaps in rural areas are particularly pronounced in least developed countries (LDCs), where 17 per cent of the rural population live in areas with no mobile coverage at all, and 19 per cent of the rural population is covered by only a 2G network.
Furthermore, according to 2019 data, globally about 72 per cent of households in urban areas has access to the Internet at home, almost twice as much as in rural areas (38 per cent).
“How much longer can we tolerate the significant gap in household connectivity between urban and rural areas,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “In the age of COVID-19, where so many are working and studying from home, this edition of Measuring Digital Development: Facts and figures sends the clear message that accelerating infrastructure roll-out is one of the most urgent and defining issues of our time.”
“This edition of Measuring Digital Development: Facts and figures is released at a challenging time as COVID-19 wreaks havoc on lives, societies and economies around the world,” said Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau.
“For the first time, our research contains estimates of the connectivity status of small island developing states and landlocked developing countries, in addition to least developed countries: this is a very important milestone in our efforts to achieve sustainable development for all.”
The research reveals that about a quarter of the population in LDCs and LLDCs, and about 15 per cent of the population in SIDS do not have access to a mobile-broadband network, thus falling short of the Sustainable Development Goals Target 9.c to significantly increase access to information and communications technology and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020.
Internet use prevalent among youth
Not surprisingly, Internet use is consistently more widespread among young people, irrespective of region or level of development. Whereas just over half of the total global population is using the Internet, the proportion of Internet use increases to almost 70 per cent among young people aged 15-24 years.
In LDCs, 38 per cent of youth are using the Internet, whereas the overall share of people using it, including youth, stands at 19 per cent. In developed countries, virtually all young persons are using the Internet, while the highest youth/overall ratio is present in Asia and the Pacific.
Slower infrastructure roll-out and other barriers to Internet use
The latest ITU data demonstrate that the roll-out of mobile-broadband networks has been slowing in 2020. Between 2015 and 2020, 4G network coverage doubled globally and almost 85 per cent of the global population will be covered by a 4G network at the end of 2020.
Yet, annual growth has been slowing down gradually since 2017, and 2020 coverage is only 1.3 percentage points higher than 2019.
In addition to infrastructure roll-out, the digital gender divide, lack of digital skills and affordability continue to be major barriers to meaningful participation in a digital society, especially in the developing world where mobile telephony and Internet access remain too expensive for many.
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