The Death Of The Traditional Company

Andy McLoughlin, 10.21.10, 06:00 AM EDT

Mobile devices, Internet-based software and social media are transforming the workplace.

image

Andy McLoughlin

Due to advances in connectivity, hardware and software, the enterprise as we know it is changing. With high-speed Internet connections (fixed and mobile), laptops, PDAs, tablets and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), people can now work as effectively when they’re on the move as they can when sitting at their office desks. Whether in a satellite office, working from home or traveling to and from meetings, employees now have the ability to access whatever files and information they require on whichever device they are using.

You only have to look at recent media stories for evidence that enterprise mobility is becoming an increasingly hot topic. A couple of recent examples are the launch of BlackBerry’s PlayBook, described as the “the world’s first professional tablet” by the company’s CEO, Mike Lazaridis, and the announcement of Salesforce.com‘s ( CRM news people ) Chatter Mobile for all major smartphone platforms.

However, advances in technology are having a greater impact on the enterprise than just mobilizing the workforce. They have ensured that the enterprise is no longer a closed entity. As well as enabling employees to work outside of physical office walls, SaaS tools have made it possible for people to communicate effectively over firewalls and across the communication silos that have developed in traditional businesses. Boundaries have blurred and you now have a group of people working together, regardless of whether they’re in the same department, company or country.

With SaaS coming of age and concerns around security and control being overcome, the social and enterprise worlds are colliding and social software is becoming more common in the workplace. Rather than having a fragmented flow of information due to red tape and inward-facing technology, business-grade Web 2.0 tools are enabling knowledge to flow more freely and efficiently. Information can be stored centrally and be accessible to anyone who needs it, rather than locked away on people’s laptops, buried in their inboxes or hidden in piles of paper on their desks. External experts and staff from other organizations can instantly access relevant project information rather than having to wait for files saved on in-house networks and shared drives to be e-mailed to them. There are no gatekeepers to required intelligence, and cross-department, cross-company and cross-territory collaboration becomes far simpler.

As a result of this free-flow of information and ease of communication, the enterprise is becoming a more level playing field. The flat structure that is starting to replace the traditional business hierarchies can benefit everyone in the enterprise–from the management team to interns. With social technologies such as wiki-style whiteboards, instant messaging and discussion tools, user profiles and cloud-based file storage transforming the workplace, managers are no longer limited to using just the people within their team for a project. They have the ability to collaborate with people across all levels of the business and outside of the organization. There is a global, boundary-less pool of talent available and they can select the best people for the job based on their knowledge and expertise rather than their location or department.

Managers have full visibility of who is contributing what to a project, what deadlines have been set (and missed) and what elements of the project require their approval. This level of transparency is also a benefit to the unsung heroes on the workforce. Rather than being overlooked because they don’t have the correct job title or because they’re new to the team, everyone has the opportunity to participate in a project and share their ideas. People that would never come into contact with the management team can communicate with them directly and become part of the decision-making process.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha