The changing workplace in the Internet age

By Polly Schneider, CIO |  Career

CIO: But will people care so much about belonging to an organization? There's a
lot of talk about the temporary company -- a specialized group of people that come
together only for the length of a project.

Jim Sutter: Years ago, you'd go off and do research, contribute ideas and
create a new product. Today, to minimize the risk, in part, and also to provide rewards
for those who take the risk, a new entity is often created -- to develop an Iridium or
whatever it might be. So I think corporations of the future will be much more built out
of pieces that kind of come and go, if you will, as alliances are created and equity is
generated. There will still be very large companies, but I think they'll be federations
of smaller businesses that can be easily reconfigured or spun out or sold.

Mendelson: On the demand side, there's the need for temporary, virtual
companies because the capabilities needed are changing so fast. You can't really form a
group of people that will satisfy next year's demand. There will be a people's
directory on the Internet, so that if you want to put together a company with a set of
given skills, you go to this global employment agency that has information about
millions of people. The agency will go and talk to candidates and try to convince
enough of them to join the new operation. They do their job, they may continue intoo a
couple of other generations of the product, and then they move on to another activity.
The problem is, if we have a product that's created by a large number of components,
what do you do if a component fails, for example? When the people have moved on to
something else, it's very difficult to figure out which component is at fault. So the
complexity of managing this type of operation is an order of magnitude higher than the
complexity of managing today's operations.

CIO: How will managers lead in these increasingly chaotic and loose structures?

Horn: I think the biggest management challenge will be creating a unified
corporate culture: pulling together something with a corporate value quickly -- a group
of people, very disparate, perhaps around the world, and then instilling some level of
value system. Business models will come and go more rapidly, so the whole thing strikes
me as being far more ephemeral.

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