Future technologies in media workplaces — How AI and new technology could transform the newsroom.
In last past 10 years, globalization as well as digitization have driven the society and especially the workplaces. Some people wonder where the new technology will bring us, some people fear about their jobs. But, we are, where we are because of past trends which took place for millions of years. The world keeps spinning and the humanity will discover new technologies and new trends. New technology can also mean new jobs in different areas. In this paper, I’d like to talk about one of these trends which can possibly come in about 10 to 20 years. It’s a small trend in a very specific place:
Future technologies in media workplaces — How AI and new technology could transform the newsroom.
Today’s media workplaces look not very different from other workplaces. When talking about media, I mean specifically the workplace of journalists, advertisers, and Public Relations professionals. Mainly, the offices are open spaced in big business houses directly in the melting pot of important cities. Normally, there is a big table in the middle of the office which is used for morning meetings with everybody, the so-called newsroom. TVs are hanging on the wall showing multiple news channel, the open space office which is now popular in other branches too, has its origin in media companies.
The atmosphere can be described as lively: People are on the phone, researching new information, talking to each other, having meetings writing news, producing ads, or managing crises. In the companies, there is hierarchy but mostly, the work is done in highly effective teams. Teamwork is a major driver for media companies. They are brainstorming together, creating campaigns together and there is almost every time the principle of dual or more control. Producing splendid content for customers and consumers means working with critic and feedback as well as content evaluation. Therefore, communication between employees is very important and must be supported. This can be done with specific architectural buildings, with flexible working hours and with after work events. As we know from research, employees will also talk with colleagues about work in their “free time” for example at work events like Christmas celebration or mutual sport events.
But one major factor which affected and still affects the current workplace is the globalization. News agencies, advertisers as well as PR companies need to be all around the world to communicate their messages. Imagine a reporter who talks about Syria and is not in Syria. He would have huge problems to research facts, to talk to witnesses and victims, he would report stories and news delayed and, the most important fact, no one would trust his assertions because he wasn’t there. In conclusion, there must be media offices of every media company all around the world.
Even though, there are offices all around the world, media companies need to work very close. The divergence between working close but very far away is obvious. In the last five to ten years, technology was a main supporter when it comes to this divergence. And thereby, I mean technology in software as well as in engineering.
Media companies are going global. But that doesn’t mean that they must build new office locations and spend a lot of money. In the past 3 years, the trend went to shared workspaces. For example, wework offers workspaces to rent all around the world. Starting from $220 a company could rent a desk including WiFi, electricity etc. for one month at a wework location.
This company results out of the trend of less physical offices but communication still needs to be kept alive. Therefore, software tools need to be introduced. Currently, many companies are working with slack: a messaging app for teams. Direct messages, team channels, calls ad file sharing are made possible easily with slack. The team’s communication is organized and made transparent for everyone through the tool. Combing telepresence and slack makes physical offices almost useless. But probably the most interesting factor for employers is that even though the employee may leave, the communication is stored and a part of the employee’s knowledge stays in the company.
Another technical innovation in the past 3 years are wearables. The small devices directly on the body itself are tracking and measuring every step some takes, every heartbeat someone has and every food someone eats. At the end, the app of the wearable gives improvement tips for a better and healthier behavior. Health is also in a very interest of an employer. Healthy and motivated people mean more effective employees.
With less physical offices all around the work and with a powerful communication app working with each other without seeing them is possible in the year 2016. Nevertheless, sometimes it is required to see each other. Therefore, traveling is necessary. In this field, also many changes happened in the last years: Cheap airlines and busses rose, more competitors are in the transportation market which leads to lower prices, new cars with electrical power were introduced to the market in 2017, through more vehicles transportation time got faster and faster, car sharing is currently rising and, finally, driverless cars are in the making.
The Kondratieff wave is an economic cycle theory and shows the state of each factor in the modern economic world. Above, I was talking about following factors which are categorized in the Kondratieff wave below. This figure is completely subjective.
Figure 1 — Own Creation of Kondratieff wave
All these factors are depending on market forces, contracts, and legal obligations. If there is no more demand for any of these factors, it won’t be much longer. In a globalized world, which enables working around the world also means that the company and its employees need to deal with different markets and with different political situations. So, demand and offer are an important role in new trends and technology.
Coming from the K-wave, there is also the issue of a steadily faster working world. News need to be produced faster but still researched. Ads must be emotional but also curated. PR campaigns must be effective with the exact message from the company. These problems are considered in Larry Kramer’s book: C-Scape — Navigating the Future of Business. He talks about four factors which will affect the media businesses:
1. Consumers are in control
2. Content is king
3. Curation is valuable
4. Convergence is happening throughout all formats across all platforms
These factors are at the same time the main problems for media companies. They carry a huge number of competitors of the market of advertisers, journalists, and PR professionals. Every company is a media company and everybody can write and distribute content across all platforms. So, the question is, how can the three professions keep up with the speed, the new competition and the, at the same time, demand for more qualitative content? The answer lies in the future but technology could be a huge driver in this.
Coming from history and considering the current situation is interesting, but this paper is about the future. So, let’s talk about this now.
Edward Cornish describes the six supertrends in his book “Futuring — The Exploration of the Future”. He also talks about the importance of the interaction between these supertrends and how they form our today’s society. However, probably the most affecting supertrend in a media workplace is his first supertrend: Technological progress. It “includes all the improvements being made in computers, medicine, transportation, and other technologies, as well as all the other useful knowledge that enables humans to achieve their purposes more effectively.” (Cornish, 2004, p. 23)
I believe that technology will become a major role in the future of media companies and their workplaces. Advertiser, journalists, and PR professionals will work different then now because technology will enable them to adapt to its major issues which they are facing now.
Still, to take peoples fear, I would like to point out that these three professions won’t be one by a robot or machine. The technology will only support them in doing their job more quickly, more professional and, at the same time, technology could allow them to have more time for other job duties. But, later more.
The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerization shows in an infographic how much of the job of our three profession will be done by a machine or robot in the next 10 years. This study was released in 2015, therefore, we are talking about 2025.
Because of the clever solutions, the huge work spaces, and the amount of negotiations, only 2.2% of the work of an advertiser will be done by a machine in 2025. This also means, there is less support from technology which can be used for the actual tasks of an advertiser. Still, technology can support and accelerate the daily tasks which take time.
More than one tenth of the work of a journalist will be done by a machine in 2025. That means that journalists will have 11.4% more time for tasks which are neglected today. For example, a reporter could do more investigative journalism which is often not done today because it takes time, money, and other resources. With the support of technology, the journalists have more freedom in this branch of activities.
The highest amount of work substitution through a robot do have the PR professionals. The daily tasks like writing press releases can be done by a robot very soon. This is called Natural Language Processing and could be on the market in 5 to 10 years. Thus, machines with artificial intelligence can crawl hundreds of press releases, adapt to the style of writing, analyze the costumers needs and write perfectly targeted press releases based on its analyses in a very fast way.
Cornish also talks about the trend, that people are moving from rural parts of their countries to big cities. This supertrend will also affect the workplace of media companies. For example, when the demand for space in rising cities increases, so will the rent. Media companies, especially, news won’t afford to pay high rents. Therefore, working remotely from home and don’t have any workspace at all could become real in near future.
Because of its near to big companies, advertisers and PR professional will probably have offices in these big cities, even though, the rent will increase. But most likely, they will share their space with other professions to be more profitable.
Sharing resources means always a security issue for companies. Imagine an employee leaves his or her laptop unlocked on the table to get a coffee, a competitor could get access to sensible information. Also, the question about who has access to what needs to be considered. ID cards and a huge number of keys will be old-school. Wearables will solve this issue. Further thought, a mixture out of wearables and in body technology could solve this problem. Considering the example with the unlocked laptop again, if the laptop could be unlocked using the user’s brainwaves, no one except the owner could use the laptop. Confidential information would be kept. Also, a little chip on the wrist or the hand could give access to specific rooms booked, to offices or elevators. They store the information of the human’s access rights and make ID cards useless. It could be also used to buy food and coffee in the cafeteria or take the time when the people are working and when they take a break. There would be no need to take time for these activities. The employees could focus more in their jobs.
Even though, there will be less till no physical offices anymore, seeing each other is still important for our three professions. But, this could be done faster. In the next 10 years, there will be driverless cars, high-speed trains, and planes as well as improvements in current telepresence or holograms. I don’t believe that there will be teleportation in 10 years but this would be cool. Telepresence will become more important than travelling. Aa a matter of facts, that there will be more screens everywhere in near future, there is more space to screen the presence of other offices. Imagine a cafeteria which has a huge window that can be transformed into a telepresence format. Socializing will transform radically. Telepresence can also be done via virtual reality glasses which will take you in the office on the other side of the world in real time.
I believe that useful technology finds adaption in several industries quickly. The shared workplace, the in-body technology with its measuring and tracking as well as the faster transportation system could adapt in every industry very fast. Nonetheless, there will be people who are doubting and setting against new technology. It is very important to get them on board in an early stage process. They could be a major barrier in the whole adaption process. Also, in-body technology is currently seen as critical in some countries more than in others. But still, many people just don’t want to have a chip under their skin which can track everything even in their private lives. Trust is here a big factor for adapting. The developer of these chips need to make sure that the person has control over the chip and that it cannot be hacked. Further, data should not be the main business of these chips. The person itself should benefit first, then the company.
I believe that every single C from the C-Scape will be important in near future. In the following I am going to briefly show a typical day for each of our media professionals.
After a strong coffee, and the morning news, the journalist is ready to go to his desk and start to work. While coming near to his computer, it reads his brainwaves, unlocks the computer and an AI is saying “Good Morning, Michael, you have 40 new emails. Two of them are important and from your boss. He asks about the next story. You also got an answer to your question regarding the witness of the explosion. And remember two stories are due to today EOB.” The AI is supporting Michael in his daily life: it goes further. Michael has a meeting in the city at 2 pm. The AI is remembering him, connects with his smart home devices, orders a shared and driverless car for the right time, closes the door after he went. After Michael comes back home, unlocks the computer again and sees that the AI analyzed a breaking news and wrote a statement in Michael’s words for reviewing. Michael accepts it and sends it to his boos for proofreading. At 5 pm Michael has a call with his team colleagues all around the world. The AI blacks out the office and turns the window in a telepresence screen. The AI, writes the protocol and sends it after the conference call to everybody. She also does drafts of discussed ideas and topics in the call as well as listens for commands. At the end of the day, it starts to heat up the oven, reminds Michael to put the food out of the freezer in the oven and when again when it’s done. Through this support, Michael had more time to follow investigative topics.
Pia goes to her office in downtown LA, checks in with her chip under her skin. Orders a coffee on the way up to the floor via AI in the smartphone. Gets the latest news and what she should do today. She goes to her computer, unlocks it and the AI from the smartphone automatically connects with her work AI but shares just information Pia wants both AI to know. She reads the most important conversations in the communications tool selected from the AI and tells it to answer a specific phrase. After that, she has a meeting with her boss in San Diego. The AI ordered a train ticket upfront and Pia is in 15 minutes at her bosses’ desk. While reviewing the latest advertisements from competitors. On her way, she got an idea, pressed the chip in her wrist and submitted the idea to her laptop. When she is back in LA, she gets an analysis of the latest customer needs and what they want. She brainstorms with her colleagues on the East Coast via telepresence and creates a first draft of a new ad via motion sensors and augmented reality (a mixture out of Kinect and HoloLens). The AI transforms the draft into a professional cut and sends it for its approval to the boss. Pia had more time to talk to customers about new projects and negotiated contracts.
Wendy, travels a lot and is almost never at home. She is currently in Montreal and her AI ordered a desk at a shared workplace near the airport for 5 hours. With her wearable watch, she checks in and pays at the same time. Wendy does not fully trust the chip under her skin and the watch almost offers the same service. For Wendy, the content is king and the consumer decides which content Wendy curates. Every morning she gets an analysis of the latest needs and trends and decides after that what campaign should be done and how. Her AI writes press releases in her style of writing before Wendy knows that she has to write one. The AI helps her connecting with colleagues to brainstorm and with customers to negotiate. The AI creates presentations and writes speeches, prioritizes mails and topics but still, Wendy needs to proofread everything. While correcting the AI, it learns out of mistakes. Next time, it will be better. The longest process for Wendy is to get new ideas. Being inspired by other companies, doing research etc. everything counts into getting new ideas. Through the AI and new technology that supports Wendy, she has time to do that.
The rise of AI is inevitable. If there is an algorithm and the appropriate RAM for that, AI will come sooner as expected. Due to the major advantages, not only for our professionals also for every other industry, makes companies looking forward to AI. Also, the fact that the human body and technology continue accumulate to benefit from its profits, lead to a highly adoption of many industries.
But before everyone can benefit from the advantages, development must be driven further, research must be done accurately and trust must be built. If one of these factors isn’t done properly, the innovation or the trend will not occur. Another factor which could make the trend not occur is money. If these technologies and shifts of society aren’t affordable, only major companies could use it. Small business with less revenue and therefore less money won’t spend it for an AI or very fast transportation etc.
In conclusion, we don’t know what is coming exactly in the next years, yet. But everything which improves live and work radically will be most likely adopted from the society.