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The next era of human|machine PARTNERSHIPS

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In 2017, Dell Technologies partnered with the independent futures research group, Institute for the Future (IFTF), to explore the emerging technologies shaping the future of the human experience over the next decade, and the specific impacts and implications they will have on society and work. To execute this, IFTF relied on its decades-long study on the future of work and technology, in-depth interviews with key stakeholders, and the opinions and ideas generated during an all-day facilitated workshop with a diverse set of experts from across the globe.

At its inception, very few people anticipated the pace at which the internet would spread across the world, or the impact it would have in remaking business and culture. And yet, as journalist Oliver Burkeman wrote in 2009, “Without most of us quite noticing when it happened, the web went from being a strange new curiosity to a background condition of everyday life.”

Today’s emerging technologies also feel like strange, new curiosities. Artificial Intelligence (AI), augmented and virtual reality, home robots, and cloud computing, to name only a few of the sophisticated technologies in development today, are capturing the imaginations of many. The advanced capabilities of today’s emerging technologies are driving many academics, entrepreneurs, and enterprises to envision futures in which their impacts on society will be nothing short of transformative. At a recent expert workshop hosted by Dell Technologies and the Institute for the Future (IFTF), participants suggested that the technologies in play over the next decade have the potential to “solve some of the intractable problems that humanity has faced for so long,” offer the opportunity to “increase productivity [such that] all our basics needs [are taken care of],” and fundamentally reframe “notions of what it means to be a person.”

Whether or not these emerging technologies will realize these ambitious possibilities is uncertain. What is certain is that they will intersect and interact with powerful demographic, economic, and cultural forces to upend the conditions of everyday life and reshape how many live and work in 2030. As a result, many organizations and people will navigate unchartered waters over the next decade, unsure of what lies ahead. In Dell’s Digital Transformation Index study, with 4,000 senior decision makers across the world, 45% say they are concerned about becoming obsolete in just 3-5 years, nearly half don’t know what their industry will look like in just three years’ time, and 73% believe they need to be more ‘digital’ to succeed in the future.

With this in mind, we set out with 20 experts to explore how various social and technological drivers will influence the next decade and, specifically, how emerging technologies will recast our society and the way we conduct business by the year 2030. As a result, this outlook report concludes that, over the next decade, emerging technologies will underpin the formation of new human-machine partnerships that make the most of their respective complementary strengths. These partnerships will enhance daily activities around the coordination of resources and in-the-moment learning, which will reset expectations for work and require corporate structures to adapt to the expanding capabilities of human-machine teams.


Institute for the Future (IFTF) is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) strategic research and educational organization celebrating nearly 50 years of forecasting experience. The core of our work is identifying emerging trends and discontinuities that will transform global society and the global marketplace. Our research generates the foresight needed to create insights that lead to action and spans a broad territory of deeply transformative futures, from health and health care to technology, the workplace, learning, and human identity. As an educational organization, IFTF strives to comply with fair-use standards and publish only materials in the public domain under the Creative Commons 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). The Institute for the Future is based in Palo Alto, California. ( This report was researched, written, designed, and produced by IFTF in English. With IFTF permission, the Dell Technologies Globalization Team has translated the work with approved Language Service Providers (LSPs) around the world to obtain quality translation of the work, however content may differ from the original source material. All translations shall remain under the original copyright.


Dell Technologies is a unique family of businesses that provides the essential infrastructure for organizations to build their digital future, transform IT, and protect their most important asset, information. The company services customers of all sizes—ranging from 98% of the Fortune 500 to individual consumers—with the industry’s broadest and most innovative portfolio from edge to core to cloud. Dell Technologies family consists of the following brands: Dell, Dell EMC, Pivotal, RSA, SecureWorks, Virtustream, and VMware.

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