Academic journal article Manager

Back to the Future

Academic journal article Manager

Back to the Future

Article excerpt

Brian Birkby MInstAM looks back at an IAM Member who, in 1983, looked forward in order to predict the office of the future.

Whatever happens to predictions?

People speculate on what might come to pass, but does it? Well in the dim and distant past, 1983 to be exact, a national competition was held to imagine the office of the future. The competition was organised jointly by an office equipment magazine and a stationery supply company.

Entrants had to predict the office of the future, 10 to 15 years ahead, in not more than 1,000 words. The entries were judged by the Chairman of the stationers, the editor of the publication, together with the Managing Directors of both Mullard Electronics and Wang (UK).

The runner-up was an IAM member, who received L250. The presentation, at the Savoy Hotel, was by the then Under Secretary of State for Industry, John Butcher.

The winning entry included the following interesting speculation:

Increasing computer use would mean automation of current paper processing tasks. As these clerical tasks disappeared, so would the middle management jobs whose role was to supervise them. A key challenge would be retraining and redundancy.

The runner-up article has survived in full and some interesting extracts are published here. The Internet is there in thought, if not in word.

Birkby Lancaster Consulting specialise in improving customer service through: -,MM qualitative research, process improvement through teams and skill transfer workshops.

Telephone: +44(0)1484 41739 Fax: +44(0)1484 712037


The convergence and integration of equipment on Local Area Networks gives faster access to information. This provides more relevant and therefore valuable data on commercial and industrial operations. Organisations will, as a result, reduce operating costs, energy consumption and improve response times.


Acceptance of new technology will not be universal. However, reluctance may mean becoming uncompetitive. It is therefore important to undertake a detailed study, plan medium and long-term strategies and implement those aspects which give immediate benefit. …

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