Over the past couple of years, technologists have given a lot of thought to how technology communicates with its users as well as to how users communicate with technology. Communication was but the first step in a long journey of “humanizing” technology, though.
Looking ahead, I believe 2020 will be the year in which technology will evolve to craft more experiences around the way humans want to behave on specific channels, which is in contrast to how technology traditionally has expected its users to fit into predefined experiences. Some technology will show such great advancements that more human lives will be saved by its use, as in the case of robots assisting doctors in attaining greater precision during medical surgeries now.
And finally, the actual face of technology — the people using it — will become increasingly diverse and representative of society. Technology, in general, will become more human-focused.
This shift in terminology from “user” to “human” reflects the increasing personalization of the high-tech experience from the generic user to the specific (and customizable) needs of human beings. For decades, we’ve associated high tech with increasing automation.
Think of the steel industry: Where human workers once faced hazards, robots have stepped in to take on the most dangerous tasks. The same is happening in medicine, with the precision of robots aiding the precision of trained surgeons. Mazor Robotics, for example, offers technology to plan for and facilitate minimally invasive surgeries. And AI-assisted diagnostics for CT scans and X-rays are commonplace now.
The next step in the evolution of implementing high tech is to consider the human beings who are directing the robots, and other technologies, and the experiences that those employees are having. Data shows that employees are happiest when their companies transition to integrated digital solutions that offer them tools to do their jobs more efficiently.
In fact, having the right workplace technology in place will become an asset used by human resources departments to attract and retain talent, and such workplace optimization will continue to increase in importance. Whereas traditional human resources “perks” included things like free lunches and on-site gyms, the benefits realized from implementing streamlined tech solutions impact the experiences of employees far more.
As I noted in an article for HR Technologist, with features like team messaging, an integrated “home base” platform to communicate through, AI-integrated tools, integrated phone systems, and options for video interactions with co-workers and customers, the face of today’s workplace technology is becoming more human and more important.
In fact, 83% of employees our company surveyed indicated that a seamless communication platform would boost retention and encourage them to stay longer with a company. I believe HR departments increasingly will recruit around the full experience employees will have at a company — especially in regard to how humanized tech will help them to have feel-good, constructive, efficient experiences with their work.
In addition to the increased humanization of technology, more attention will be paid to what kinds of humans are making up the workplace as well. Specifically, the increasing democratization of technology will spur broad-scale social change regarding diversity and inclusion.
It’s time to ask: Is the glass ceiling finally broken for good? With every S&P 500 company now having at least one woman on the board, more and more women will emerge in leadership positions throughout industry. The Fortune 500 now has 33 female CEOs — a number that is still far too small at 6.6%, but that represents a jump from 24, or 4.8%, from 2018. I expect that number will rise more rapidly than ever in the coming years.
2020 will be an incredible year to be a human using increasingly customized technology, and it will also be an exciting time to be a human working in high tech, with more and more technology needs being anticipated and met. The coming decade will bring remarkable shifts in just how responsive and customized technology will become in response to our personal needs both at home and at work. As well, for those who historically haven’t been as represented in positions of leadership in high tech, barriers will continue to break down, and diversity, in general, will increase rapidly and markedly.
This article originally appeared in Forbes.