The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

As we begin another year, it’s time not only to reassess how we approach our work and personal lives, but also how technology is changing them.

Of course, this is nothing new. I got my first computer at the age of 10, in 1982, and devices such as smartphones and tablets have been rewriting the rules of communication and workflow for more than a decade. But the pace at which this technology infiltrates every aspect of life is growing ever more rapid, and I believe we are at the precipice of a generational chasm.

On one side of this chasm are those of us who grew up with desktop computers. On the other are children who are digital natives—and not just digital natives in the sense of being born into a world of computers, but a world in which the primary interfaces are touch and voice.

Apple Inc. has long promoted its iPad tablet as a computer replacement. Until this year, I have seen this as a tenuous argument. For those who merely browse the web and use email, this might work. For professionals, however, iPad and its iOS operating system have not offered the power or versatility required to get real work done. But this has changed with the latest generation of iPad Pro, which I am now using, and with the new release has come commentary from tech pundits that convinces me a massive shift is upon us.

This commentary can be summed up as, “But, on iPad, I don’t have this application or that menu option that I have on Mac.” This usually comes across as whining, but I get it. I feel the same way.

But why? I know it is because I have spent 36 years doing things with a keyboard, mouse, and interface first developed by Xerox PARC in 1973. The children of today aren’t burdened with that history. For them, the touch interface is simply how things work. It’s natural. Have you ever watched the two- or three-year-old in your family walk up to a television and try to tap the screen? That’s all you need to see.

The reality is that the children of today must navigate a prickly landscape where techno­logy’s past and present bump against one another, creating a thorny mix of promise and frustration. The former belongs to their world, the latter to ours.

Whether we adopt new tools or stick to our tried-and-true methods is a choice we each must make. But, as we explore starting on page 24, we have a responsibility to ensure that our children are com­fortable with techno­logy and can effortlessly apply it to daily life. We can cling to our views that worked in a largely analog world, where computers were a box on the desk, and resist the shift to mobile, touch, and voice. But the world as a whole is about to leap over that chasm with or without us. I choose to jump. How about you?

Christopher Bryan Jones is Editor-in-Chief of The ACCJ Journal. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, he has lived in Japan since 1997.