Digital Trends

Microsoft UK’s Chief Envisioning Officer Dave Coplin Peers into his Crystal Ball for Fresh Egg

Dave Coplin, the self-confessed 'Inventor of Pretentious Job Titles' according to his Twitter profile, obviously has a sense of humour, but Microsoft UK's Chief Envisioning Officer also has a serious message about the world of work.

Dave has recently written a book on the future of work called Business Reimagined: Why work isn't Working and what you can do about it. So, what is the future of the work and how will digital change it?

Fresh Egg asked Dave eight questions, and he gave us eight answers. Let's call them our Fresh Eight:

Dave Coplin Microsoft's chief envisioning officer on BBC

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1. What have the next five years got in store for digital, and what does it mean for privacy?

I think the next five years are going to be about a couple of things: blurring the digital/analogue boundary and a brave new world of 'contextual' interactions.

Blurring the digital/analogue worlds is about ensuring that humans can get access to the best that the digital world has to offer wherever they are, whatever they're doing it and use that 'experience' to change what they do in the real world (for the better).

A lot of this is based on the 'context' of the individual: where they are, what they're doing, how they're feeling (!), what they've done previously and so on.

This is going to feel pretty creepy for a lot of people and will continue to do so until brands and other entities start to really focus on the value that this context can bring in terms of how they engage and enchant their customer.

Brands that get this will be rewarded by their customers, brands that don't will be left behind in the dust as consumers will cut off their oxygen supply (their data).

The evolution of our concept of privacy as a society will continue to evolve - as it has done for hundreds of years. My real hope is that people will recognise the potential value as well as the potential risks and engage in a conversation with brands, advertisers, governments and service providers to find the 'right' way to do it for everyone involved.

2. Will email ever be replaced as the work communication tool of choice?

Replaced? No. Complemented by other tools? Yes -- and it's happening right now as organisations embrace the principles of communication we use in our personal lives to fundamentally change the culture of how we collaborate at work.

3. Do you know of any business that does not need reimagining?

Every business and industry has the potential to be 'reimagined'. At its heart, reimagining is simply about freeing ourselves from the constraints of our past to look to the real potential that technology and a modern digital society can bring about.

There is no single organisation doing everything, but many are already starting down the journey and often in some really unusual locations. The DVLA's example of retiring the paper tax disc is one of my favourite examples of the magnitude of change that becomes possible.

4. How do you envision the future of search?

For me, the future of search should be to make search invisible. Don't get me wrong, search is one of the fundamental foundations of how society will leverage the power of the internet, but I just don't think in the future it will be about homepages, query boxes and ten blue links. The future of search will be much more natural and transparent to our lives; it will be ever present, but in a way that is contextual, accessible and valuable to everything we do.

Bing's search engine page

5. Can digital help with the world's really big problems, such as famine, war and climate change?

Of course -- and it already is. At risk of playing IT Buzzword Bingo, in a Big Data world (someone at the back just called 'house!'), a great many things become possible. Having access to all the data makes a world of difference to how we understand the world around us. We will stop fixating on causation (why something happens) and instead, settle for simply correlation -- the fact that it does happen. This will enable a great number of significant breakthroughs in the scientific world over the next few decades.

6. What gets you up and out of bed in the morning?

Talking, listening and learning with others about the potential that technology offers our society, and how we can help others make it real.

7. What career advice would you give?

Never, ever call yourself a digital guru! Instead, focus on how your skills could empower those around you to be successful (be they your colleagues, customers or even family and friends).

8. And finally, what digital tools do you use in your job?

This is a bit like asking, what sort of air do I breathe? All of it, of course!

You can find out more about Dave on his blog,

Do you agree with Dave about the future of work and search? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.