Post-Pandemic, Businesses will be Brighter, Virtual and Panlingual

by APSense News Release Admin

As the coronavirus crisis fades in intensity but lingers in memory and restrictions, work and business will never be the same. Where is our life heading?

  • Interactions will continue to be remote, using video calls instead of face-to-face

  • Extended reality will add movement and immersive 3D experience to interactions

  • Instant machine translation and interpretation will overcome language barriers in doing business online

The changes are disruptive and painful, forced on us against our will. We long for the way things were, to wake up from this viral nightmare. Yet it’s dawning on us that the new avenues of communication and collaboration, across the enterprise and the globe, have undeniable benefits for our lives and work.

Welcome to My Virtual Work World and a Glimpse of Our Possible Future

In lockdown, my virtual business world comingles with nature shared with monitor lizards and giant ants in a jungle village near the Andaman Sea.

I’m a writer and communications consultant who ran a media agency for a couple of decades. I co-founded a few startups along the way. All that time, I commuted two hours a day. I took business trips to meetings, conferences and tradeshows around the world. That all seems distant and kind of crazy now.

Today I live as what some call a “digital nomad” –a minimalist, slow-traveling out of a 7-kilo backpack and riding a 7 kilo bike. I wander around Asia for 5-6 months in fall/winter; in spring/summer, around Europe and the Med. I write about leadership and innovation, which gives me to chance to meet risk-embracing investors, edgy startups, and brash visionaries. They’ve given me an inspiring view of how the future might work, even before the virus arrived. It’s so bright, I gotta wear goggles.

Innovations that have Transformed My World, and Maybe Soon Yours

Smart and Renewable. Even with cheap oil and gasoline, there’s no competing with the sun. You may not be able to inject sunlight, but installing solar panels to become a net producer of domestic energy, managed by an app, is as simple as putting together an IKEA bookshelf. My client, SVEA Solar, a Swedish energy startup, partnered with its modular furniture legend and is making it easy, profitable, and fun to go solar. Nolan Gray, its co-founder and CMO, just got named to the exclusive Forbes 30 under 30.

What’s striking about SVEA, from a country that’s dark most of the day in the winter, is the realization of a new concept of smart home: not just a place to sleep in and come back to but also as a productive power plant that doesn’t just consume: it produces. It makes money. Your house is not just your castle: it’s your business partner. As we spend more time in our homes, we appreciate it as our biosphere, our virtual spaceship.

Better-Led. The Argonauts out of Berlin draws on the three-millennia old Greek myth of Jason and his crew of superheroes setting sail aboard a ship bound to retrieve the Golden Fleece. This brash startup uses the journey of courageous heroes to remake the idea of corporate leadership and social responsibility. Initiated by Stefan Beiten, executive producer of Planet Earth and Deep Blue, with membership scattered across the globe, it virtualizes the Forums of the highly influential Young Presidents Organization and makes face-to-face networking accessible to leading thinkers, artists, executives, social and tech entrepreneurs across the globe. They meet regularly by video in what Harvard Professor Michael Beer has called trust-based circles confiding their challenges with peers. Especially in these days of lockdown, these intimate online gatherings provide a new format for CEO-therapy and entrepreneurial networking.

Panlingual. Those of us lucky enough to be brought up with an American English mother tongue, lingua franca of the business world, may be forgiven for thinking that language revolves around them. True, English is the most spoken language, but runners-up 2,3,4 (Mandarin, Hindi, and Spanish) account for twice as many people. Less than one in 6 people speak English, which opens the way for the fast-growing language services seeking to overcome language barriers. The most exciting developments are in machine translation. AI-driven neural network technology has brought closer the science fiction idea of an instant universal translator. Anyone who explores the translation apps of Google and Microsoft will be blown away not just by the accuracy and fluency of translation these days.

  • Voice-to-text dictation which rarely misses a syllable and can translate on the fly

  • Text to voice translated into dozens of languages, with voices almost human

  • Camera translation with augmented reality translations replacing foreign language signs and menus

  • Sequential voice interpretation for fluent smartphone convos with foreigners

  • One-to-many simultaneous interpretation for conferences and keynote speeches

  • Video Remote Interpretation lets you add an interpreter in any language, on demand, to your video call

Virtual. In April, XRBASE out of Amsterdam put on an investor-startup matchmaking event– totally in virtual reality. It brought together a few dozen investors and a hundred entrepreneurs in fields of eXtended Reality (XR), encompassing Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. While the holographic 3D machinations of Tom Cruise in Minority Report or Neo in the Matrix franchise are still a way off, they’re getting a lot closer. My client kindly sent me an Oculus Quest Head-Mounted Display and within minutes I was doing the tango with a nimble-footed avatar partner and losing myself in the dance.

We’ve all endured 3D movies and queasy 3D video games. Immersed in a virtual auditorium experiencing the multi-dimensional pitches of the XR startup, chatting and gesturing to fellow attendees seated next to me, I had no worries about social distancing or COVID in droplets of my virtual seatmate’s chatter.

While Zoom and its cousins will continue to be a mainstay for 2D video calls, the impact of the virtual reality conference I attended – one of a series of remote 3D events rolling out these days – made clear that, even if physical face-to-face conferences and expos are ever restored, the time for XR experience is nigh. The industry just needs a critical mass of helmet-wearers to make it routine to “meet in virtual” and have conferences “all in remote.” Virtual is no longer kid’s play – it’s the future of remote meetings, dating, concerts, sports, immersive and intense. Social distancing in your face. Feel the buzz.

Take-Away Only: What Apps can We Trust for Remote Working?

A recent article in Gartner discusses the inevitability, post-Corona, of remote work for an organization’s future. As one who has been remote working for close to a decade now, I can say that remote working is remarkably from the petty politics and turf issues that dominated face-to-face office life in my previous incarnation as a small business boss. According to the thinktank’s study, 64% of professional say they can work anywhere, and 71% of companies have remote work policies.

A handful of power tools have transformed my remote work reality. I credit Upwork as a life-changer. This is arguably the top marketplace for freelancers. I got into it, set up a shingle as a copywriter, editor, and ghost. I’ve never looked back, and I credit the simplicity of the business model and its trust-based fairness. Freelancers negotiate terms with clients, and clients deposit an agreed escrow amount which is automatically release upon meeting milestones. For hourly work, there’s a time-tracking mechanism which screen-captures what you’re working on to “keep you honest.” It’s like Reagan said about SALT talk with the Russians: trust but verify.

Slack is a collaboration platform that manages channels of communication among colleagues for complex projects. Combined with Google docs, it’s a snap to collaborate on document editing, spreadsheets and presentations, each colleague’s contributions trackable. And as a staple work tool, even the venerable MS-Word keeps yielding pleasant surprises, like its cool dictation and translation features.

Where Do We Go from Here? Do We Have a Choice?

The tools for remote working, and networking, are already out there, ready for use. This crisis and economic shutdown, however painful for so many, has the benefit of giving us, and the earth, a break. The pause enables us to re-experience a slower pace, re-evaluate our priorities and explore new avenues for living and working.

Remote work may prove healthier and happier. Do we miss commuting? Traffic? Air pollution? Sure, I can’t wait to get back on the road again, continuing on my globetrotting nomadic way. But I also welcome the opportunity to meet the legions now entering the world of remote working and interactive 3D experiences.

We are witnessing a silent revolution. Walls of separation are tumbling. Language barriers are toppling. Is social distancing a cause for despair? I think not. Social intimacy is possible across physical distance. Our minds and hearts can still meet.

There’s room for us in virtual space. There’s freedom in this new frontier. See you there.

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Created on Jul 20th 2020 03:15. Viewed 2,086 times.


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