Impact Of Advanced Technologies On Organizations And Human Ressources


TETRA PAK Conference - Baltic sea, June 11-17, 1991

We face an era of technological breakthrough. What will be its impact onman and society ? Why such progress ? What type of technologies are to beconsidered? What will be their impact on organizations and on new services?

This presentation will cover 5 sections : 

1) Scientific and technological evolution 
2) Advanced technological fields
3) Consequences on society
4) Impact on organizations
5) Impact on customers 

1 - Scientific and technological evolution

A. Scientific progress :

a) It is often the result of the convergence of scientific disciplines :
Example : neuro-sciences, robotics, biotechnologies, new materials, instruments.

b) Information explosion and networks.
Scientific journals, newsletters, congresses, data banks have a catalyticeffect regarding the scientific information explosion.

c) Cross-fertilization
Relationships between Government agencies and industrial companies throughjoint R&D programs enhance the cross-fertilization process. Venturecapital and large multinational research programs like Eureka, Esprit orHuman Frontiers also play a role in bringing together various fields anddisciplines.

B. Technological evolution :

a) Concept : 

Technologies evolve through a process of extension and integration of man'ssenses and muscular power. 

The power and capability of the eye, the ear, the voice, the hand, the foothave been extended through television, radio, tools, machines and factories,automobiles and aeroplanes. Today "senses" and "muscles"converge in automation equipment, robots and computer integrated manufacturing. 

b) History :

Such evolution can be described in 4 major steps :
1- Agriculture : man was able to survive by using the earth revenueunder the form of renewable energies.
2- Industry : the discovery of fossil fuels accelerated the technologicalevolution. But man started to use the earth's capital. 
3- Info-communication : the discovery of the printing process, of thecomputer and the developement of communication networks created the presentexplosive communication phase. 
4- Bio-ecology : the principles of bioengineering and ecoengineeringwill help to create regulation cycles at the level of the Planet.

c) Energy and information :

Energy-intensive societies lead toward centralized, Taylorized, hierarchicaland specialized organizations.
Information-intensive societies lead toward distributive networks of sharedpower and decentralized operations.

Two major technological evolutions are presently witnessed : 

- The micro-engineering trend with the silicon "chip" andthe biotechnology engineered "bug".

- The macro-engineering trend with ecotechnological projects (recyclingwaste products, climate change, etc)

Such scientific and technological evolution is not organized around disciplines(physics, electricity, chemistry, biology...) but it generates multidimensionaltechnological systems. This is why their is a need for a system's approachin the management of R and D projects. 

2 - Advanced technologies forecast

5 fields of interest have been selected : 

A. Computers and robotics

Trends : continuity from micro to macrocomputers; importance of connectivity;
Decrease in size, increase in power;
Voice input/output, character recognition, scanner; 
Advanced software, experts systems for personal computers.
Robotics : vision and expert systems
Mobile robots; 
Virtual space (example : tri-dimensionnal "shake-hand");
"Fuzzy logic". 

B. Telecommunications and videomatics

Communication trends : from personal mobile systems (phone, fax, portablecomputers, beepers) to global networks (ISDN, digital networks, minitel,satellites, cable); 
Videodisks, CD laser, DVI (digital video interactive) CD-Rom, CDV, CDI,Sony data disk man;
Integration of personal computers and communication networks.
TV (TVHD), flat screen, "smart TV". 

C. Intelligent materials, natotechnology, biotechnology

"Smart materials" : sensitive skins, electro-rheologic fluids(ERF), memory glass, electrochromic materials;
Composites, supraconducting ceramics, biomaterials, bioelastic polymers
Molecular electronics, bioelectronics;
Natotechnology (scanning and tunneling electron microscope, STEM) Minirobots,MITI miniature submarine for exploration inside human body

D. Energy, motors, transportation systems

Production : solar cells, hybrid solar (Luz Solar), wind aerogenerators;
Storage : batteries, fuel cells;
MHD (magnetohydrodynamics), hybrid cars (diesel and electric)
Maglev, HTOL (fuels : H2, clean diesel, methanol)
Smart car, guidance systems, satellite tracking;

E. Bio-engineering and eco-engineering

Genetic engineering, DNA sequencing, biomodulators, production of chemicals,depollution, diagnostic tests;
Prevention and treatment, "Green Business", ecotechnology.

3 - Consequences and impact on industrial development 

A. Digital networks and fusion of communication systems 

Extension and integration. 
Writing/ printing; voice and image storage, phone communication; computers,digital storage and processing. New global media : videomatics.

B. Impact on working life

Office; transportation systems; home (intelligent homes concept)
The "paperless" office concept.
The "portable office" concept

C. Impact on personal organization

Data management. Personal computers. Time management.

D. Impact on companies organisation and strategies

a) Business intelligent network (BIN)
when ? how ? where ? who ? The example of Silicon Valley

b) Training 

c) Diversification strategy
University-industry relationships; venture capital 
R&D global strategy

E. Impact on human ressources and consumer's responses 

a) Technological risk : isolation (Example : teleshopping)
fragility, complexity, "information pollution".

b) Needs : 
Education (Example : Cite des Sciences et de l'Industrie) 
Management of complex systems
Management of information
Management of time

c) Socio economic trends and consumer's attitudes
Home "cocooning" (living room, communication room)
Ecology and environmental concern
Portable systems, mobile communication
Educational personnal tools (CDI, DVI) 

d) Intelligent home (Domotics)
Safety; energy savings, telework
e) Smart cars
f) traditional : food, clothing, habits. Mix : "high tech/high touch"


Key issues of the future :
Management of complex systems
Technological systems in industrial societies
Management of planet earth
"Doctors and Managers" of the planet.

Joël de Rosnay 

Director of Strategy

Cité des Sciences et de l'Insdustrie – La Villette – Paris – France 

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