The changing workplace in the Internet age

By Polly Schneider, CIO |  Career

Paul Horn: The changes we'll undergo are going to be quite phenomenal and
startling. The companies of 2025 will, in my opinion, not look at all like the "The
whole concept of the virtual enterprise is going to explode.-Paul Horn"companies of
today. Twenty to 30 years from now you're going to be able to buy a terabyte of data
storage for a dollar. When we invented the first disk drive in 1954, a gigabyte of
storage cost $10 million. So the whole concept of the virtuall enterprise is going to
explode. We'll have companies with little or no physical assets, with business models
that are completely intellectual-property-centric, with essentially the entire
technological infrastructure outsourced. Business models are going to be all based on
rapidly turning data that's stored digitally on these "yada-bytes" of storage into
useful corporate knowledge.

Haim Mendelson: We're going to see companies that are looser coalitions than
the companies of today. If we talk about the corporation of the past, the prototypical
successful company was a large, vertically integrated company that controlled an entire
value chain. Today, these companies essentially are breaking down into components,
where each does a piece of that value chain, and ultimately these pieces are integrated
to create a final product. I think we're going to see this process continue on a very
large scale.

One type of company will specialize in development, where the focus is knowledge
work. It will be managed much the way Internet startups are managed. The second type of
company will focus on physical production, where economies of scale and managing
physical assets are important. We'll see even tighter control in these types of
companies. A third type of company [will be] in the distribution business, where you
see some integration of physical movement and of components. The closest to that is
something like Ingram today, but it's difficult to predict what exactly it will look
like because this structure is just evolving. The fourth type will be the ultimate
aggregators: people who specialize in customer relationship management. Their key
competence is going to be managing information about customers and providing high
quality service. These are very different types of companies that require different
skills, which is one of the reasons they need to be separated.

Anita Borg: I hope and think that one of the major changes in corporations
will be that we will get to the point where women have significant roles in nearly
equal numbers to men. That, in and of itself, will have a lot of interesting impacts on
what corporations look like, because it will no longer be the case that women are
exceptions or very much outnumbered. There will be a much more
relaxed sense of inclusiveness.

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