The changing workplace in the Internet age

By Polly Schneider, CIO |  Career

WORK HAS CHANGED SO MUCH over the past few decades, we can't help but speculate
that working 30 years from now might be like an episode from The Jetsons. In reality,
though, it's highly unlikely we'll be commuting to the office in oxygen-equipped power
suits (thank heaven). Romantic predictions that everyone will be working from the
comfort of their own living room or deck may not even come true by then. Still, there's
no doubt that there will be unfathomable changes enabled by advances in
telecommunications, multimedia technology, ubiquitous computing and the information
economy. There will be companies providing virtual experiences (a midnight visit to Sri
Lanka from a computer screen on your bedroom wall), while others will make money
manipulating and selling huge directories of data. Future organizations will create new
services we can't even begin to imagine now (10 years ago, who would have thought we'd
go back to having our milk delivered, by something called an Internet grocer?).

CIO recently invited several prominent IT leaders to discuss the workplace of
the future. Along with Senior Writer Polly Schneider, the participants were: >Anita
Borg, researcher at Xerox PARC in Palo Alto, Calif., and president and founding
director of the Institute for Women in Technology; Paul Horn, senior vice
president and director of IBM Research in Yorktown Heights, N.Y.; Haim
Mendelson
, the Theodore J. Kreps Professor of Information Systems and Management in
the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University in Palo Alto; and Jim
Sutter
, senior partner at The Peer Consulting Group in Newport Beach, Calif., and
former CIO of Xerox Corp. and Rockwell International.

In this future world, the participants foresee the disappearance of multinational
conglomerates, the emergence of a global job-bartering community on the Internet, and a
leadership style that will require expertise in corporate culture and employee
motivation. And contrary to popular belief, they say, people will choose not to
do all their work at home.

CIO: How will corporations evolve over the next few decades?

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