By 2020, the laptop will take a backseat in importance to smartphones and wearable devices in the workplace, a recent study by Cisco said; in fact, today’s employees under the age of 35 already complete tasks faster using mobile devices and apps rather than personal computers.
More than half of these so-called millennials consider themselves available for work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and prefer working a flexible schedule, utilizing various mobile devices, rather than a 9-5 job in the office.
This changing office culture is just one of the ways that technology is altering the corporate world, from how people work to how enterprises do business to how customers make decisions.
The first major shift in the corporate world came in the 1980s, with the introduction of the PC. These computers made it possible not just to organize and store information more efficiently, but also gave professionals the opportunity to write their reports and keep their own records, rather than relying on a secretary or central typing center. The advent of email in the 1990s put even more control in the hands of professionals, allowing for more direct and quick communications, without going through gatekeepers like secretaries. Since then, websites, mobile phones, and social media have led to myriad other changes, as “we’ve shifted to a business world where collaboration and connection are replacing hierarchy and bureaucracy,” a recent Fast Company article summarized.
This shift is continuing and will reshape the business world of the future. Increased connectivity will eliminate the outstanding role of the office while more sophisticated digital connections and virtual reality worlds will help make the home–and many other places as well–into areas where collaborative, productive work can be done.
Already, we see improved technology creating a virtual world that feels more real; for example, Cimagine offers 3D images that make the viewer feel like they are in an actual showroom with the products themselves. Technology will also allow for increased collaboration, and by incorporating social media and virtual reality, that collaboration can be more productive than that created through simple video conferencing and email.
Organizations themselves “will be flatter, every individual regardless of their age will have opportunities to influence change and the direction of the organization,” the Fast Company article details. And the whole corporate world will follow suit, leveling out the playing field, the magazine writes: rather than large companies gobbling up smaller ones and forcing their corporate culture on them, the acquired companies will operate as they are; this approach will lead to an ecosystem approach, where partners, customers, and even competitors work side-by-side to develop new ideas and products. Proof-of-concept will become a more democratic and open process; such a shift is already embodied by startup Scalabill.it, which offers a software-as-a-service platform to make it easier for enterprises to buy pilot programs from startups.
The combination of increased connectivity, flatter organizations and a more democratic corporate world will also usher in social changes, in addition to the obvious economic and efficiency gains. Some of the changes include a shifting family life, where people are checking in and out of work all the time, rather than dedicating one nine-hour chunk of time to work. This will create increased flexibility in many cases; you may have to wait for your spouse to send an email from the table before you begin eating, but at least that spouse is home at the dinner table, and not at the office.
Relationships with remote business contacts also have the potential to turn into real personal connections, as social media and virtual reality tools will help foster more authentic relationships than those formed by traditional video-conferencing or email.
The field of education is also being affected, with more emphasis on apprenticeships, which will be more accessible due to the flatter nature of companies and sectors. In addition, free and low-cost technology, like Neverware, which offers a downloadable solution to make an old computer run like a new Chromebook, will allow people in far-flung places or from lower socio-economic standing to participate in the global corporate world.
Although there is still much uncertainty, it is clear that these changes will affect the whole corporate ecosystem and not just the IT department.
“Innovation is not a function or a department, but rather an approach that is embraced across our entire company,” states the Coca-Cola Company, founded 128 years ago but very much a player in the world of corporate innovation today.
Stay tuned for more information on future corporate innovation and investment opportunities at OurCrowd’s 2016 Global Investor Summit in Jerusalem next week (January 25-26)!