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'Chaos': the New World of Work; the Implications for Service Providers


August 04, 2010

Gartner analysts predict an "increasingly chaotic" organizational environment between now and 2020. That this going to have some clear implications for providers of communication services, including demand volatility, "hyperconnectedness," and a further blurring of the lines between collaboration within and outside an organization.

“Work will become less routine, characterized by increased volatility, hyperconnectedness, 'swarming' and more,” said Tom Austin, Gartner fellow and vice president. 

"By 2015, 40 percent or more of an organization’s work will be ‘non-routine’, up from 25 percent in 2010." said Austin. Greater non-routine volume will mean communications demand will be "spikey" and less location-specific. The former trend me and more need for bursting bandwidth and temporary bandwidth, the latter trend obviously plays to mobility and on-demand services.

“People will work with others with whom they have few links, and teams will include people outside the control of the organization,” he added.

"Swarming" might be more common.  Swarming might be called a flurry of collective activity by anyone that can to add value to solving a particular problem. Call it "throwing everything at the wall."

You might just call this a new form of "temporary workgroups" or temporary teams, but there might be a bit of a difference.  Teams have historically consisted of people who have worked together before and who know each other reasonably well, often working in the same organization and for the same manager. 

Swarms form quickly, attacking a problem or opportunity and then quickly dissipating. Swarming is an agile response to an observed increase in ad hoc action requirements, as ad hoc activities continue to displace structured, bureaucratic situations. That will require a more-trusting form of management than exists in many organizations. 

In swarms, if individuals know each other at all, it may be just barely. That suggests one new enterprise and business role for trusted social networks made up primarily of people one knows rather casually, but has reason to trust, based on cues from people a user does know well, and who can recommend another person's qualities. 

There are informal groups of people, outside the direct control of the organization, who often can contribute to the success or failure of a particular initiative. 

These informal groups are bound together by a common interest, a fad or a historical accident. Think about the management implications: Business executives will have to figure out how to live in a business ecosystem they cannot control; one they can only influence. Most of us can think of lots of firms that will not be able to do so, for all sorts of reasons. That adage about "nimbleness" being a business asset? Get ready for an even greater performance premium.

Most non-routine processes will also be highly informal. Gartner also does not expect most non-routine processes to follow meaningful standard patterns. Again, the implications for communications and information processes are that they must be sublimely flexible and reconfigurable "on the fly."

Work also will require more spontaneity, such as regular seeking out of new opportunities and creating new designs and models. Google probably is among the firms that do this best, allowing people to spend significant time on whatever interests them, in terms of projects. 

Hyperconnectedness is a property of most organizations, existing within networks of networks, unable to completely control any of them. While key supply chain elements, for example, may be "under contract," there is no guarantee it will perform properly, not even if the supply chain is in-house. Hyperconnectedness will lead to a push for more work to occur in both formal and informal relationships across enterprise boundaries, and that has implications for how people work and how IT supports or augments that work.

The workplace also is becoming more and more virtual, with meetings occurring across time zones and organizations and with participants who barely know each other, working on swarms attacking rapidly emerging problems. 

But the employee will still have a "place" where they work. Many will have neither a company-provided physical office nor a desk, and their work will increasingly happen 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

In this work environment, the lines between personal, professional, social and family matters, along with organization subjects, will disappear. Individuals, of course, need to manage the complexity created by overlapping demands, whether from the new world of work or from external (non-work-related) phenomena. Those that cannot manage the underlying "expectation and interrupt overloads" will suffer performance deficits as these overloads force individuals to operate in an over-stimulated (information-overload) state.

It is clear from most of these trends why on-demand provisioning; bandwidth bursting and mobility are becoming more important underpinnings of communication services. 

Read more at HERE.


Gary Kim is a contributing editor for unified communications. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi




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