One 2014 trend you must be aware of

Ubiquibot Remix There are many lists of things to consider for 2014. It can get overwhelming. When I look at the trends I see one that stands out. So the one trend I think you must be aware of in 2014 is….


2014 will see an upsurge in the connected nature of our lives, personally and professionally. Ubiquity is about technology being pervasive, an increasing part of everything, rather than something stand alone. Technology will be increasingly ‘everywhere at once.’

The diagram below shows five key areas that are linked to ubiquity: connectedness, the internet of things, big data, the quantified self and personalised learning. These are interconnected. They are not inherently good or bad, hence they inhabit the ‘grey space’ of the adaptive world. We can consider the future as dark or aspirational and move from the grey space accordingly. I believe that increasing our awareness of the landscape helps us to make decisions and take action. The five key areas are described simply in this post. I have provided some of the links that may help you consider the implications and possibilities for your organisation.

Drawing by David Fletcher ©Think Beyond Ltd 2014

Connectedness is the rise of the networked world. Technology makes it easier to connect and so collaboration will take on new forms. Leaders thriving in this environment must have an understanding of systems thinking and complexity. This requires both adaptive and networked leadership capabilities.

Check out connectedness through the rising growth of  skype, online collaborative decision making and meetups.

The Internet of Things is the term used to explain this connectedness, a system of systems where things are talking together and acting smarter as a result. Soon there may be more things on the internet than there are people. This video from IBM explains the Internet of Things in more detail. Leaders have the opportunity to connect people and technology in a matrix of strengths, seamlessly working towards a common goal.

The Wolfram Connected Devices Project seeks to extend this seamlessness by curating knowledge of connected devices and giving them a common language. We are rapidly moving to an environment where people will expect to be connected at work with their own devices and bringing their own minds. Next step – wear your own devices. Have you got your WYOD strategy in place?

Big Data You can check out more information about Big Data in my previous post. There are also some useful resources and infographics at BigData-Startups. In the world of increasing data there will be a shortage of data scientists and pattern analysts. Leaders will need to grapple with this as we will require more than a department of technicians and analysts. It will require a mindset of digging deeper into data across the organisation and this year more organisations will begin to understand how big data adds value.

There will be some schools experimenting with real time analytics and doing away with writing reports as a ‘special event’. Countries will begin to look at systems of ongoing data collection to enhance and replace formal exam systems. Those that cling to old world technologies will sense the urgency to bridge the digital divide.

 The Quantified Self has been described in previous posts. In 2014 we will see people monitoring their own health to a greater level and influencing the unwiring of healthcare. The ubiquity of technology allows this to happen more discretely by connecting a range of apps to your personal cloud. It also allows you to connect with others, share ideas, successes and the pain! Devices and apps to support this trend will become more sophisticated. Already my fitbit can monitor my steps, my sleeping patterns and connect to all of my diet and health data. It’s just the beginning.

We will start to see the rise of some new professions who act as wellness mentors, for example a Wellness Information Professional (WIP). Destined to whip you into shape, this professional will coordinate your online and offline health needs. They will connect with other wellness professionals. As described earlier in this post, cloud services will start to do a better job of combining their services to provide seamless, personalised responses for the user. There will be an increasing number of wellness brokerages or collaborations loose connections of wellness specialists. They will not only recommend each other, but collaborate to produce something unique.

Personalised Learning has been talked about a lot in recent years. Ubiquity enables personalisation to occur naturally, using many of the ideas already mentioned in this post. I’ve provided a few links here, because they will help stimulate your own thoughts around what personalised learning might look like in your context. Check out Ubiquity University, learning analytics, the Kahn Academy and talent leadership. And if you want a view about adaptive learning systems that will keep you wondering check out this post by Barbara Bray or this one discussing how the 2014 trend of personalised learning in education will look in practice.

Some questions that spring to mind: How do we use technology in ways that support people to think for themselves and contribute positively to the world? How will we consider personalisation when we recruit, especially Gen Y team members? How can leaders support the personalised learning of staff so that there is a win for the individual and the organisation? How can I take responsibility for being the agent of my own aspirational future, tailoring my own learning to support me, while also meeting the needs of others?


Ubiquity is something that adaptive leaders must understand and work with. In my next post I will discuss the leader’s role in exploring signals and coping with ubiquity. Leaders have an important role to play in understanding the landscape of change, regularly scanning the environment and influencing the future. It’s all connected…and complex.

Image from Aza Raskin via Compfight

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