Rapidly improving and expanding network computer technology is a key reason why workplaces today are shifting fast toward more mobile and flexible environments. Reflecting upon events of the past week, I think there is another massive revolution in workplaces still to come.
The Obama campaign demonstrated the potential of computer-facilitated personal networks to bring about change. Through Facebook and MySpace, along with websites like YouTube, supporters connected with independents and people who were potential supporters, creating a viral-like marketing campaign. People found numerous different ways to connect and spread a message. Obama rode this 21st-century communications revolution to victory – it was not a machine to build and control, but rather energy and ideas to harness.
As corporations relax their rules about “who can be doing what on their work machine when,” a new generation might just use the myriad communications options available to do something fantastic. When corporations “let go” they might find they can hitch themselves to something amazing.
Imagine a global corporation – maybe a software company or an accounting-consulting firm – in which people at all levels and positions could interconnect and network together, and then solve problems together. A company with an internal intranet containing an internal Facebook, blogs, work logs, etc. fully searchable by anyone else in the company. Perhaps employees anywhere in the world could connect in any way they needed to: video conference instantly from their laptops, or leave video messages for each other.
If all the talent in the company could connect easily, that could bring enormous innovation acceleration. Problem solving could be far more efficient. Maybe David in the office in Singapore has already solved a problem now facing new person Carly in the office in Boston? What if Carly could type in a few key words and learn that David dealt with the same issues last month?
While I’ve heard of companies trying to better connect their workforces through intranet applications, I haven’t heard of too many turning all or most of the process over to all employees, especially the younger generation (but please comment and tell me who is doing this if you know).
The first company that achieves this extreme interconnectivity would instantly have tremendous leverage against competitors from an enormous boost in productivity and innovation.
Obama was the first major politician to grasp the potential, and harness the power, of youth and technology – and just look at how far ahead it put him. He left the best late-20th century political machine in the dust (the Clinton camp) and made McCain look like a relic of the 1950s.