The changing workplace in the Internet age

By Polly Schneider, CIO |  Career

Mendelson: Leadership skills [may] become less important in the future
because more of the decisions will be based on the rational analysis of information
that gets presented. The information makes the decision as opposed to the personality.
But the second perspective says, well, everybody's going to have more information, so
the source of competitive advantage is actually going to be those intangibles -- the
ability to get people to follow through a vision, the ability to create a vision that
cannot be supported by data, the ability to create a market that doesn't yet exist --
and we need to do that through our personality. So there are two perspectives, and I
don't know which is the right one.

CIO: What kinds of tools do you think we'll be using in the workplace?

Horn: First of all, the core underlying technologies, which are mostly
optical and semiconductor technology and displays, are going to get better
exponentially than they are today -- following something that's close to the existing
Moore's Law [stipulating that the data storage capacity of microchips doubles every 18
months]. Also, object-oriented programming and Java are going to allow people to build
applications fundamentally faster than they used to build them. In 2025, you'll be able
to pull together components that'll interoperate and build a complex solution like well-
defined little pieces. Just the way we can do it in silicon technology with circuits,
you'll be able to do it with software programs. More and more, the technology is going
to be invisible. It's going to be easier to use, and it'll be all around you. We're
already starting to see today what we call the dawn of the post-PC era. It's really
more correct to think of your digital phone as a client on the Internet than a phone,
for example.

Mendelson: The first wave of technology will be to replicate daily activities
in a virtual environment. Say we want two people to be able to speak to each other over
the network. We'll have low-cost storage so we can bring back a discussion that we had
two weeks ago and pop it up on the screen as we're talking. Then the question is, To
what extent can we replicate the different senses on the Internet -- as far as smell
and touch? In 20 years we'll have these technologies actually working in a way that
surpasses the quality of face-to-face communication today, and we won't pay a penalty
for assembling a company with people who are physically located in different places.

CIO: So will most people work out of their homes?

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