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How Did We Get to the Virtual Office, Classroom, Meeting, World?

How did we get here? It all happened very fast, and there are no signs of it slowing down. For example, the story you may read today goes viral within 24 hours but then, within another 24 hours or less, it is considered old news. New fortunes are made and reputations are destroyed overnight. There is no time for psychological gestation or conscious absorption before we are on to the next thing. The pace at which we live is continually becoming faster. The coming of age of AI isn’t going to slow this down!

It is important to understand how we got here in order to see where we are headed. Let’s take a trip down memory lane, back to the year 1999. That certainly was a big year; it may have been the year of biggest change. Situated at the dawn of the 21st century, in 1999, we were surrounded by exciting technological advancements yet many of us went to the office wearing a suit and faithfully following a 9-to-5 routine. We did not realize the potential of these advancements. In the meantime, programmers around the globe scrambled to make sure 1999 could turn into the year 2000 and the earth would keep on spinning. (Remember the fears about Y2K?) Even after all the 9s safely became 0s, some of us were partying like it was 1999 because we did not fully understand how technology was affecting our lives. Radical and dramatic changes had already begun.

The year 2000 doesn’t seem that long ago. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, was in high school. Google was an infant corporation and Microsoft was the evil empire. There was no iPad, no iPod and no iTunes. We had Learning Management Systems, but Web 2.0 was only a buzzword and the presidential election depended on counting votes on punch-style paper ballots. As we moved to a 3G network, connectivity increased, as did outsourcing and the use of digitally mediated communications. The barriers of time and place were slowly but permanently being blurred, affecting individuals, organizations and society at large. The impact of these technological advancements is evident in the swift economic changes we’ve experienced with many more drastic changes on the way. With 5G on the horizon and AI here,  and “Big Data” everywhere, we are challenged to adapt the workplace to the NOW.