It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent events of the past couple of years have directly changed the ways we work and live. Our readers can see it clearly, but it’s not as obvious to the layperson how digital transformation has ramped up, and how we can expect this to impact technological innovations in the future.
In his new book, Tech Trends 24/7 and the Impact of COVID-19, James P. Quinn takes on the challenge of describing these changes with a broad stroke. He explains how the COVID-19 pandemic, changing workforce trends, and other infrastructural and environmental factors are transforming digital transformation efforts across the public and private sectors.
Each chapter of Quinn’s book focuses on a unique project within digital transformation, typically providing a general overview or history, an interview with an expert or customer in that field, a sampling of companies following this trend, the direct impact of COVID-19 on the project, and cities that are working to incorporate that advancement.
Across the 17 chapters of the book, Quinn covers a lot of digital transformation ground, discussing everything from smart cities and digital twins to the office and corporate technology of the future, to advances in home, music, and sports technology. Although the book relies heavily on outside citations and commentary, Quinn’s own insights are particularly interesting for readers who want to better understand how technology will affect bigger-picture issues, such as workplace expectations, global infrastructure, sustainability, and greater accessibility.
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Adapting the Workplace After COVID-19
Especially given his background in both real estate and technology, Quinn opens strong with his “Office of the Future” chapter. This chapter primarily focuses on architectural changes rather than technological changes, analyzing how several offices moved toward an open floor plan and other densification trends pre-pandemic, in order to improve in-office collaboration.
However, as the pandemic required employees to spread apart and eventually work remotely, many corporate offices have started reconsidering their layouts for improved safety.
This section of the book provides a rich history of workplace design and how and why it’s changed over time. Executive readers in particular will find this part of the book interesting as they work to build their own workplaces of the future with safety concerns and employee expectations in mind.
Although it’s definitely not the focal point of this part of the book, Quinn also discusses some of the technology solutions workplaces are implementing to mitigate office safety concerns, such as touchless entry, voice-activated door and elevator buttons, and air quality and circulation solutions.
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The Importance of 5G Infrastructure, Today and Tomorrow
5G is a rapidly expanding networking innovation that most of our readers are very familiar with. However, the non-technical reader may be surprised by this chapter and how a more accessible 5G could potentially impact their daily connectivity, and the technologies they can use as a result.
Quinn does a good job of explaining how 5G works and how it is used at a basic level, but this section shines more because of how it explains the impact of COVID-19 on 5G’s rollout timeline:
“5G holds the potential to revolutionize the way mobile networks function. Because of COVID-19, the 5G market may materialize sooner than expected. As large numbers of people have been forced to isolate themselves, an increase in working and studying from home has been stressing networks and creating higher demand for bandwidth. People have now realized the need for faster data sharing with increased connectivity speeds, an acceleration in the rollout of 5G technology to ensure the bandwidth and capacity challenges of existing infrastructure is more real than ever.” (135-136)
Quinn briefly touches on how 5G development affects some of the other areas mentioned in the book, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), smart city, and artificial intelligence innovations. However, given the widespread influence that 5G is expected to have once it’s more globally available, it would have been helpful to see a stronger 5G thread of focus throughout Tech Trends 24/7.
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Thinking Toward the Future: Sustainability and Accessibility
Quinn writes several chapters that focus on how new technologies are working toward a greater global good, particularly in the areas of accessibility and sustainability. Accessibility is a trending point of conversation in technology right now, with movements toward self-serve AI and analytics, data democratization, ethical AI, and AI equity immediately coming to mind.
Quinn takes on several unique angles in this category, writing about transportation-as-a-service (TaaS), healthcare diagnosis and treatment technologies, and how new technologies are helping people with disabilities.
His two-chapter focus on technology for disabilities does not necessarily fit the traditional readership of CIO Insight readers, but as disability tech advances and advocacy groups continue to make workplace culture more inclusive, discussions of disability and accessibility tech like these are important for CIOs and other executive readers to consider.
Quinn also does a strong, nuanced analysis of both the good and bad in sustainability efforts: how new technologies are continually improving the lived human experience, but also how the energy and infrastructure required for some of these new technologies is directly harming our environment.
This data point provided by Quinn is a good example of how regulation and technological advancement are coinciding and contributing to how we will need to create more sustainable tech in the future:
“As the regulation on carbon emissions continues to grow, this will have an increasingly significant impact on offices and data centers, which are both extremely high consumers of energy. A typical data center user may utilize over 100 kW per square foot for its space while a typical office space user may utilize only three to seven kW per square foot for its space.” (71)
Sustainability discussions are sprinkled throughout Quinn’s book, with explanations of how sustainable tech will improve the offices and smart cities of the future, and how sustainability is currently incorporated into major tech enterprise campuses.
Beyond the direct quote mentioned above, it would be interesting if the text shared more information about how other tech advancements, such as cloud and edge computing, are negatively impacting the environment because of their high levels of energy usage.
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Corporate Technology Leading Digital Transformation Efforts
Chapter 10, titled “Corporate Technology,” is likely the most relevant to our B2B tech audience, though the analysis level in this chapter may be too elementary for seasoned experts on tech trends. Quinn divides this chapter among 10 different categories of corporate tech development:
- Data and Analytics
- Cloud Migration
- Corporate Technology Trends
- Technology Portfolio Digital Transformation
- Monetization of Legacy Assets/Data Center Asset Class
- Hybrid Cloud
- Data Center Investor Perspective
- Telecommunication Expense Management
- Technologies Impacting Corporate IT
Most of these subsections highlight between five and 10 compelling trends in that corporate tech space, and many of these sections also include an interview with a top developer or provider. In fact, one of the strongest points of this entire book is the sourcing of interesting expert sources across a wide range of technical initiatives.
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James P. Quinn’s Tech Trends 24/7 is an engaging and quick read for anyone who wants to learn about current tech trends and COVID-19’s influence at a general level. The wide berth of coverage makes it difficult for Quinn to truly dive deep into any of his selected topics; but while some of these topics would benefit from deeper analysis and coverage, his rapid pace and emphasis on expert sources for additional reading make it easy to absorb a lot of information at once.
It’s important to note that, while Quinn delivers strong technical predictions from both experts and his own analysis, some of his statistical references will quickly become dated and cause readers to question the relevance of those predictions.
For example, he writes that “[a]ccording to the International Data Corporation (IDC), smart city technology spending will grow to $135 billion by 2021” (33). Given that this book is being released in November 2021, statistics that point to 2021 trends will quickly become irrelevant to readers who want to know what will be coming next.
All in all, Tech Trends 24/7 is a good foundational guide for non-tech experts to begin understanding the direction of future technology trends. Whether they’re reading from the perspective of a business executive or a recreational hobbyist, this book offers basic insights into a variety of community, home, corporate, and tech initiatives.
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About James P. Quinn
James Quinn is the Executive Managing Director at JLL and is considered the leading technology real estate advisor globally, being at the forefront of technology and real estate throughout his 25-year career. Based in New York, James Quinn leads a group of technology and real estate professionals that provide advisory services to Fortune 500 Companies and leading technology firms.
He has been very passionate throughout his career about the impact of technology in the business and real world. While writing this book, and throughout this research, Quinn was inspired to start Beacon of Hope 365, a charity that’s mission is to leverage technology to help people in need. You can learn more about the charity at beaconofhope365.org.