Director of the Future Enterprise Research Centre-David Hunter Tow, forecasts that within the next two decades, the future architecture guiding the enterprise will dramatically alter traditional work patterns.
By 2020 the traditional notion of an individual's job and work-related role will be recognised as outdated, increasingly mismatched with the fluid requirements of the 21st century. Future productivity outputs will be measured in terms of flexible value-added criteria and contribution to the goals of the organisation linked to social utility, rather than in terms of hours worked on a specific project.
The traditional office will also become redundant as the wireless web expands, allowing information workers- fifty percent of the workforce, to operate from home or local social hubs such as coffee bars, as already occurring- (Ref Future Cities). All such centres will be linked seamlessly via the Internet's multimedia Wireless Grid/Mesh Utility supporting Web and Cloud Infrastructure. This will also enable enormous time and energy savings for workers and the planet in general, having a beneficial impact on the quality of life for millions.
Most tasks, even in the traditional labour-intensive sectors of health, construction, manufacturing and transport will be largely automated or robot-assisted. Projects will be managed and resourced on a real-time basis within the Web's global knowledge network- (Ref Future Web).
Boundaries will then blur between traditional full-time, part-time, contract and volunteering modes of employment as well as between worker and management roles. Most workers will share time between their own creative projects and enterprise applications as already happening, with creativity and innovation recognised as critical work competitive inputs.
Tomorrow's enterprise will be most effectively represented as a decision network model with decisions as nodes and information flows linking the relationships between them. This model offers an extremely powerful mechanism for understanding and optimising the enterprise of the 21st century- extending far beyond current non-adaptive process models.
The enterprise ecosystem’s organisational boundaries and work practices will therefore become increasingly fluid and porous, in synch with the new adaptive network flow architectures. Individuals will move freely between projects, career paths and virtual organisations within the ecosystem; adding value to each enterprise and in turn continuously acquiring new skills, linked to ongoing advanced learning programs. Work patterns will therefore gradually adapt to a model of seamless knowledge flows, generated both by human and web-based algorithms.
The semantic distinctions between workers and management will also disappear with robots performing a large proportion of operational roles without human supervision. The role of unions in the workplace will then have morphed to providing largely advisory, research and cooperative support services.
Concurrently with the above scenarios will be a recognition that the philosophy and architecture of the enterprise of the future will require a major focus on surviving in an increasingly complex environment; requiring the capacity to optimise operations and strategies in shorter and shorter timeframes within a fast changing global cultural, economic, physical and technological environment.
To achieve this goal, artificial and human intelligence will need to merge at both the strategic and operational levels, driven by a need to implement decision-making autonomously with minimal human intervention, as is already occurring in advanced communication and control systems. The genesis of this trend is also becoming apparent in current service-oriented applications including- procurement and supply, resource and financial management and health and lifestyle services, where capitalising on short-term windows of opportunity is paramount.
By 2040, work will relate primarily to the generation of new knowledge and services, by combining human, robot and web intelligence to maximum potential. Most processes will be fully automated both at the operational and strategic level within the context of the Intelligent enterprise. New products and services will be generated from concept to design to production within months, days or hours. Individual creativity and skills will remain in high demand but will increasingly be amplified and modulated within the context of the Web's cooperative decision-making and intelligence capacity.
The survival and success of the enterprise will therefore be contingent on its embedding within the broader cultural environment and norms of the larger community. Business will become an integral component of community culture, with its governance reflecting ethical and sustainable global standards. There will also emerge much greater cooperation rather than competition between enterprises, as globalisation and global warming become the dominant socio-economic drivers.
The days of separating commercial decisions from their social impact will be over.
By 2050, the larger enterprise will evolve as a semi self-organising entity within a larger ecosystem, operating in largely autonomous mode. New knowledge will constantly add value to its evolution, generated through organisational decision processes and knowledge network flows.
The Future Enterprise ecosystem will therefore morph, merge and dissemble in a seamless and endless cycle, generating new processes, knowledge and services to support the global community.
Welcome to a brave new world.