Future Of Work

CEO Insight: Tech Conference Themes 2016

What is Everyone Talking About at Tech Conferences?
Jenna Van Schoor
Written by Jenna Van Schoor

The tech world regularly gets together to discuss big ideas, issues and solutions, but what exactly are the top tech conference themes of 2016?

As a regular speaker at international tech and digital society conferences, our CEO Claire Burge knows exactly what’s happening onstage and behind the scenes at some of the world’s largest gatherings of tech-focused minds.

This year alone, she’s spoken at TEDX Athens, Pioneers Festival, NEXT Conference, Leade.rs and Digital K, and is preparing to speak at the BDL Accelerate Conference in Beirut, Lebanon next week, alongside tech legends like Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

With exposure to so many people and ideas, as well as insights into the way society and work are evolving, Claire is at the forefront of tech trends with her own, and This is Productivity‘s, three-pronged approach to the future of work: humans, technology and space. Read on to find out more about what is, according to Claire, currently top of mind in the world of tech:

Tech Conference Themes #1: Tech is becoming less invasive

For a while, tech has felt like such a disruptive force in our lives. We’ve been struggling to manage the overwhelm that comes with being connected to a relentless source of infinite (and growing) source of information. Tech conference themes have explored this disruption, and how technology is changing the way we think, live and work.

This has brought up the very real challenge of cognitive load management, and the fact that the evolution of our brains is not keeping pace with the sheer amount of information we have to deal with.

However, a big topic of discussion in tech land in the fact that as much as tech has disrupted our lives, there’s a mindset shift taking place moving forward which sees tech as being a much less invasive force in our lives. It’s already happening, but one of the biggest tech conference themes is that tech is such an integral part of our lives that soon we’ll be experiencing it as such, because our approach to the way we design and use tech is changing.

Tech Conferences Themes #2: Tech is changing because of other technology

Following on from the point above, tech is becoming less invasive because development is changing, in that other apps are being developed to make using existing apps easier.

This might seem convoluted, but the truth is that it’s only through creating and using applications that we can see what actually works, or what can be improved. As our brains evolve and change through the way we use technology, through this process, we’ve now been able to figure out how our brains respond, and can find adaptive methods for coping with overwhelm accordingly.

One way is through the use of integrated APIs, which can be used, for example, with project management tools, to show a user how to make use of all the features of the platform. This helps because it’s only when you are guided as to how to use the platform effectively that you are able to take advantage of its advanced functionality. Sadly, many users never get to this stage because of churn, and the fact that in a busy, demanding workplace there often isn’t the space to delve into the intricacies of a software platform.

With the use of API’s, which you won’t even know are running, you can be guided how to use a technology platform more effectively, and optimise first-time user experience.

Another big topic of discussion when it comes to tech design is the use of “back pocket app” technologies, that assist with the use of current tech platforms and applications, without you even knowing it’s happening. This is because back pocket apps are designed to be just that, to be able to function while in your back pocket, without you having to engage with a screen at all. An example of how this could work is an app that allows you to access your building by communicating with a door lock, without you even having to look at your screen. This is a shift to a focus on processes and not screens.

Tech Conference Themes #3: We’re moving towards a tech space with no User Interface (UI)

There has been a lot of focus on design thinking and the optimal design of UI for optimal user experience on tech and software platforms, but as we mentioned above, there’s a move towards using technology in more a fluid way that makes complex UI unnecessary.

Obviously design will still be important, but we’re moving towards a world of interacting with technology where our use of technology is intuitive, and that learning how to use the software is a natural part of using the software in the first place, through an integration of APIs and built-in user training that doesn’t require you having to sit and learn everything step-by-step outside of the platform.

According to designer Golden Krishna, The Best UI is no UI, the title of his latest book.

Tech Conferences Themes #4: The way forward is natural behaviour

There’s a global sentiment that technological development is moving us away from nature, and with problems like pollution, deforestation and issues in natural resource management, it would certainly seem that the way that we’re using technology is taking us away from nature.

But on the flip side, we’re actually moving towards a world of mimicking natural behaviour in so many ways. Biophilic design is no longer just about way of including more natural elements in design, we’re actually looking to nature to fundamentally build the world of the future.

And while we think we might know a lot about the world, and the observable universe beyond it, the truth is that there’s natural behaviour even in our own bodies that we still don’t understand, just like life itself.

Just one of many interesting examples of this is looking to our own immune systems to learn how to run a business:

What are your thoughts on current tech conference themes? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Keep up to date with Claire’s upcoming talk at BDL Accelerate and future tech conferences by following us on Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook.

About the author

Jenna Van Schoor

Jenna Van Schoor

Jenna is Chaos and Rocketfuel's researcher and writer on everything related to the future of work.

Passionate about travel and new ways of thinking, she believes there is so much to be discovered when it comes to new technologies, perspectives and design.