The pandemic has pushed us to refine how people work and live and interact with their organizations and a new approach to consider is the “3rd Way,” said Hung LeHong, distinguished vice president analyst at Gartner, during a session Tuesday at IT Symposium/Xpo.
Starbucks has coined a similar term, “the 3rd place,” to reference the amount of work being done in cafes and coffee shops, and this was well before the pandemic, LeHong said. The 3rd Way embraces the concept of hybrid everything, but it is not just about places to work, he noted.
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“At no other time in history have we had this much opportunity to reinvent and make it stick. The pandemic has given it to us on a plate,” LeHong said.
People are used to seeing what technology can do, and this is a big window of opportunity to make changes stick, he stressed.
Hybrid everything includes all three ways of working: onsite, remote and the 3rd Way. The latter leverages technology and takes advantage of regulatory changes, and all approaches require human-centricity, which has been a big theme of the Gartner conference.
Leveraging tech leads to new ways of working
5G is one technology that is providing better connectivity with low latency. As the use of it becomes more predominant, it will start enabling workers to do more in a 3rd Way, he said. This applies to anything with low latency requirements.
As an example of how the 3rd Way is changing how people shop, LeHong cited Amazon Go-physical stores where people can shop, then fire up their Amazon app and walk out without having to go to a cash register or get a receipt. Amazon is using video, deep learning and artificial intelligence to enable this. The concept is beyond the pilot stage and Amazon now has some 20+ stores.
He envisioned the 3rd Way being used by airlines to enable people to walk on and check in for a flight on a plane. “We do so on trains so why can’t we do so on a plane for a short flight?” he said.
Regulatory changes to launch 3rd Way
LeHong also discussed using drones to spray pesticides on a plant that has a disease. This is one example of how regulations are changing to allow for that, he said.
Another example of a 3rd Way is the development of video games for digital therapeutics. A medical professional would not be prescribing medication—they would be prescribing an app, that happens to be a game. This could help kids with ADD and influence positive behaviors, he said.
“Now doors are starting to open, and we’re seeing prescribe-able, digital therapeutics.”
He advised executives to take a human-centric approach to discover their 3rd way. “We have to apply that landscape to make 3rd Way work. My belief is the pandemic did not change we as humans.”
Applying 3rd Way in how we live
People have a need to be social—or a need to be alone. That hasn’t changed. What has is our acceptance for technology to provide innovative 3rd ways to fulfill those needs—things we already had that are built into human behavior, LeHong said.
As an example, he cited watching TV with others, something that was done before the pandemic, then done together remotely during the lockdown. Then people watched asynchronously. Now there is the ability to do a group watch so that people can watch something simultaneously. When someone presses pause, it pauses for everyone, he said.
“It is human nature; human behavior to actually do that, and technology has satisfied that,” by increasing and boosting the experience significantly.
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In the public sector, people have traditionally gone to a government-funded service center to apply for public help, as another example. Then government portals were created. But a 3rd Way is to proactively reach out to those who need services/help from the government and show them what’s available, LeHong said.
Other 3rd Way societal examples he discussed included people taking selfies wearing digital clothing that is offered for sale by certain fashion lines and is good for the environment, he said.
“It’s our need as humans to be recognized and show off and be the only one who has this article of digital clothing,” LeHong said. “That’s human nature. Digital can satisfy some of that without filling landfills with clothing.”
But he advised people to look at applying all these principles.