Last month the Wall Street Journal compiled a list of seven common activities technology is helping to transform. Notably absent was â€˜how we work.’
My last post discussed why I feel the phrase Enterprise 2.0 is not the best one to represent the next generation of enterprise software. I arrive at this conclusion based in the fact that work culture is fundamentally changing. As a result of these changes, the next wave of software innovations cannot simply be â€˜additions’ to already existing architectures. Maybe this would be fine if we were in a maturing industry; but we are not. Thus, our next software innovations must utilize new architectures that are specifically designed to address our new era. Likewise, the terminology we use to define new software should reflect such changes.
So what exactly is going on?
One of the biggest changes I see (and that Stowe Boyd loves to talk about) is a movement away from the notion of hierarchical â€˜enterprises.’ There is a shift from large corporate-shells to individual â€˜enterprising’ individuals. Thanks to technology and globalization, power is shifting away from large corporate structures and returning to individuals. More and more, it’s about niche specializations, not generalists. We see this manifest itself in an increasing number of freelancers and consultants. In the United States alone there are 42 million independent workers; 30% of the entire labor force. We are now in a project economy where the creative class is flourishing thanks in large part to lowered barriers to entrepreneurship brought about by advances in technology and the internet.
Next, people are coming to understand that work is improved when it is â€˜social.’ We all know the role of swarm theory in nature. Swarm theory comes into play with power participation laws, collective intelligence and wisdom of the crowds. The social also feeds entrepreneurship and innovation. Just this week the New York Times suggested that freelancers excel when in a social environment. On top of this, there is also a blurring of work/life boundaries for young workers. While millenials expect longer hours they also expect social interactions at work — and the tools to allow them.
Mike Gotta of Collaborative Thinking sums it all up perfectly:
The â€œsocial enterpriseâ€� (e.g., Enterprise 2.0), reflects a desire to transform organizations governed by industrial-age management practices. Establishing a more participatory culture across internal and external stakeholders is essential for enabling the level of workforce agility and resiliency necessary for organizations to continuously innovate and grow.
Closely related to the ideas of â€˜enterprising individuals’ and the â€˜social’ is the role of presence. While people may be working collaboratively and with specialists, it’s often not face-to-face. Technology has empowered us to be able to find and hire the best talent â€“ no matter where in the world it exists. Collaboration is now geographically dispersed. Outsourcing and offshoring is increasingly common, and not necessarily related to cost-savings. Similarly, millenials are demanding the ability to work from home, allowing for better flexibility and work/life balance. These changes must all be reflected in new enterprise software, especially as the mindset shifts away from the necessity of physical spaces and presence.
Finally, I think there is a healthy shift away from talking about â€˜productivity increases’ and instead talking about â€˜quality increases.’ ROI is obviously important, but as younger people work longer hours and more commonly have niche specialties, I believe they also take more pride in what they do. It’s not about getting it done faster; it’s about getting it done better.
While there are undoubtedly more changes occurring (multi tasking for example), these are some of the most significant I recognize and which I believe Workstreamr will begin to address.
—If you liked this post, you may also like: The Phrase Enterprise 2.0 is a Problem and Steve Reubel on the Collaboration Economy and The Office of 2013