Professor offers predictions about technological trends

Ben Theobald

Brian Mennecke, associate professor of supply chain and information systems, predicts technological trends will have an impact on business in the new year.

Employment was one of the points Mennecke discussed on how business is expected to be affected by technological trends.

“One of the technologies that was talked about that relates to employment is what we’ve seen for almost a decade in the ability of people to communicate with others through things like video conferencing and e-mail,” Mennecke said. “Organizations can very effectively manage teams of people that are not collocated. They’re often referred to as virtual teams, meaning bringing somebody to work for a company is no longer required.”

The technological trends make it more convenient for the company financially.

“We don’t have to worry about moving someone and paying for their moving expenses,” Mennecke said. “We’re going to see more contract-based work where people work more in sort of a spot market fashion, the idea being that if you look at why we tend to take employment longer term with a firm is often because of the fact that the transaction cost associated with an employee’s perspective.”

The trends also change the requirements employees need to bring to work for an organization.

“The skill sets have been changed,” said Anthony Townsend, associate professor of supply chain and information systems. “Students will need to bring more skills sets, meaning there will be more double majors. Students will need to demonstrate that they have those technological skills to show their area of specialization.”

Another aspect Mennecke discussed was context-aware devices and their issues.

“It was predicted in 2003 that there would be the ability to feed people content based on where they are,” Mennecke said. “The issue there though is, with that context … what people are traditionally missing is that they tend to push content to a massive group of people, which can be a hit or miss proposition.”

The service can also monitor its customers’ actions as well as their location.

“You can identify where people are at, infer what they are doing, perhaps identify who they’re with and tie that to the location of other things around them,” Mennecke said. “This is referred to as location-based services.”

Products and services will be advertised based on past choices that person made.

“Advertisements for a product will be based on behavior,” said Kevin Scheibe, associate professor of supply chain and information systems.

“The really interesting stuff comes into play when you start looking at people who are going to be encouraged to participate in these systems,” Mennecke said, “and that’s not just going to be spam from a local retailer, but tie that in with social media and peer-to-peer sorts of arrangements where people are going to want to participate.”

The context awareness gives marketers the chance to upgrade its service to customers, but at the same time brings up concerns on privacy: How much private information are we willing to give for a service?

“We’re often willing to sacrifice our privacy if we’re getting something out of it,” Mennecke said. “These technologies are really going to enable that.”

The services are convenient enough that customers are willing to risk their private information just to obtain them.

“People are willing to do that because they get something out of it,” Mennecke said.

With an increase of these purchasing services, it doesn’t seem – in the near future – that people will stop risking privacy for their services.

“In this Internet generation, we’re comfortable with a lower level of privacy,” Scheibe said.

These practices are nothing new when it comes to people making risks with every buy they make.

“When you use a credit card, credit card companies see that and sell that information to companies of products you have been purchasing,” Scheibe said. “You don’t own that transaction information.”

With these technological trends, organization now seems to play a larger role in a person’s life.

“There is going to be more of an interaction between organizations and individuals,” Mennecke said. “Most of the time, you’re going to opt in by just turning on your cell phone because you’re already interacting with a firm.”