Pace of Change: Zooming Along Kurzweil’s Timeline

“We’re entering an age of acceleration. The models underlying society at every level, which are largely based on a linear model of change, are going to have to be redefined. Because of the explosive power of exponential growth, the 21st century will be equivalent to 20,000 years of progress at today’s rate of progress. Organizations have to be able to redefine themselves at a faster and faster pace.”

Ray Kurzweil,
Inventor, Futurist and Director of Engineering at Google

When he uttered these words, Ray Kurzweil changed the way we’d look at the pace of change in the 21st century forever: 100 years that would equal 20,000 years of progress. Change will be happening all around us – some of it we’re not going to believe at first. Then we’re going to get used to it. Then we’ll assume that it’s normal.

Just look at how we can unlock our phones and pay for things with facial recognition today when the invention of the iPhone wasn’t that long ago!

Five years ago, Face ID technology was not accessible. Now it uses machine learning to identify the details of your face. So, as many other things become more mature and easier to use, they will spread much more comprehensively.

What else illustrates the dramatic pace of change in the 21st century Kurzweil was referring to? You know it already. You probably use it every day.

Video Conferencing

It used to be that you would need to get in your car with any kind of business meeting and have to drive downtown, pay for parking and more. My, how times have changed. As we have the infrastructure for an excellent, stable, fast connection through Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet, suddenly these options are not just about convenience. Our fundamental business changes when we don’t have to be interacting personally to transact business. With some people, face-to-face interactions are all they’ve ever known and suddenly, they have to reinvent themselves based on technology.

One year ago, if you wanted to do “video conferencing” in your company, you had to talk to your IT people to set it up.

Now, for every person that says, “I wish we could get together,” there is no question our ability to be more productive and efficient has tripled or quadrupled based on this technology.

One of the things that people have discussed with me is why the financial markets (most visibly the stock markets) have done so well while the pandemic is raging. I suspect that society got dramatically richer because a great deal of technology got deployed so much faster and the rise in the stocks, at least in part, represents this newly created wealth. More technology tools got adopted sooner than they would have otherwise and the highly skilled people able to work remotely have become more productive and have been major winners in the new environment.  

Think back to the early days of using Zoom. It wasn’t that good, was it? And people weren’t quite as comfortable using it as they may be today. Now, it takes about 30 seconds to set up a video connection for Zoom. What about live streaming? Two years ago, live streaming of anything was such a foreign concept. The reception at the time was low and spotty. Now, not only is it better, but it’s such a time-saver over the recorded version where someone has to edit the video for three or four hours.

It’s one more thing where, in a brief period of time, we’re seeing an acceleration of communication technology tools in the 21st century that is not only making it better but literally changing the way we operate as businesses.

Think about what these technologies mean for remote work and how we hire. Just the other day, I received a text from a colleague saying that a firm that had initially insisted on people working at least partly in the office was now going to allow their employees to work 100% remotely. To which a person my associate was working with decided to move his family out of state to Michigan.


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Everybody has been guessing what’s going to happen next year when we don’t have to deal with COVID – to which we can potentially say, “What’s going to happen this year once we don’t have COVID?”

We’ve become so much more comfortable using technology that enables remote work. We should expect to see workflows that will get thoroughly redesigned. In the past, we plugged applications such as Zoom into an existing workflow and more or less left everything else as is.  

We thought the conditions of remote work were rooted in the pandemic environment we were dealing with. We know now that these conditions will remain to some extent, even when the pandemic subsides.

We initially thought we might need to worry about buying more real estate so people could be socially distant. Now we ask, “In a world where not everyone will return to the office five days a week, how much space will we actually need?” Certain activities involving a fully staffed office are going to largely disappear. A redesign of processes will be in order.

Management Consulting

One of the segments where we’ve helped recruit talent for many years at Roy Talman & Associates is management consulting. This group stands to be phenomenally impacted by a post-COVID world. You might expect consultants spending three or four days a week in another city no longer needing to travel as much. Surprisingly, that type of pivot from consultants has less to do with out-of-town travel and more to do with commitments right here at home.

Here’s what we mean: Management consultants, as a result of COVID, have become very comfortable with the use of Zoom and Teams. That doesn’t suggest travel has been severely curtailed. In fact, even as recently as the 1st of this year, management consultants at the partner level are making client visits again, primarily in the name of building rapport.

Meanwhile, many consulting firms are reducing their office commitments. We know of one very large firm in Chicago that signed one of the biggest leases in Chicago but only built out half the office. That’s because you have partners traveling to client sites but line level staff staying home to finish the work rather than accompanying the partners to the site.


In our business, a large percentage of what we do now is international. The amount of international recruitment work we did a year ago was practically non-existent. On a typical day, we speak to clients in Mumbai, Singapore and London, helping them build teams by recruiting worldwide, not merely locally.

Fredrik Ohlander for UnSplash

We could not imagine doing this only a few years ago. The technology to perform this functionality was too suspect and the demand for local talent was too great. Imagine, with those limitations, having to recruit based on only a short description of the candidate. Talking to the candidate by phone halfway around the world would get pricey by the minute, leading to a short conversation.

Zoom changes the game on this front for international recruiting. We can speak to a candidate via Zoom for an hour without ever worrying about the cost. We have a much higher level of confidence in understanding the candidate’s strengths and background so that we can make a recommendation to clients as if they were right around the corner.

In the past, this would have been next to impossible. And long-term, it creates a whole new range of possibilities for recruiters to be much more international.

What we’re about to discover in the 21st century, thanks to new technologies that feature more advanced capabilities, is the next level of globalization. It’s an era that should open new avenues in the tech, financial trading and management consulting industries to recruit the highest talent. So, if you’re seeking to leverage new technology to pursue closer relationships in these spaces, Talk To Talman First.

Roy Talman & Associates has the foundation in place to identify the best talent across cities, nations, and now, globally. Armed with advanced technological capabilities, our 30+ years of experience can open terrific possibilities for companies seeking to make a global impact. When having the most skilled individuals is your differentiator, you can’t afford to cede any ground to your competition. Talk to us today to ensure the odds are kept in your favor.