Earlier this year, Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University, put together a compelling video that simultaneously demonstrates and examines the changing nature of our use of technology. The piece, entitled The Machine is Us/ing Us, provides a great snapshot into the world of Web 2.0 (often called the “human web”) and generated a huge stir in business and technology circles (also, take a look at Michael Wesch and Web 2.0: “Rethink Love” to the making of The Machine is Us/ing Us).
One of Professor Wesch’s great skills is that each video leaves you with a powerful message. For me, “we will have to rethink a few things …” stood out. And in his latest video, entitled Information R/evolution, I was struck by the term “the future isn’t what you think” — taken from the cover of a 1995 Newsweek magazine (shown on microfiche).
With the rise of social media and its adoption by an active Internet population (together with the support of an ever increasing and user-friendly supply of technologies and tools), innovations that launch in the consumer world are slowly infiltrating the corporate world. “Search” is a great example … not only did Yahoo and Google change the way that we “played” on the Internet, eventually they also changed the way that we worked. Open source software is also in this space, as are blogs, wikis and so on.
Yet while technology continues to drive personal and corporate innovation, the next generation workforce is walking through our front doors, and with them comes a very different mindset. Certainly the new knowledge worker will have an impact on enterprise applications, on business processes and performance … but they will also impact the ways in which we all participate in “work”. Without the certainty of a “job for life”, the next generation of leaders will be demanding opportunity and experience … and in a world of shrinking “talent pools”, only the enterprise that delivers a vibrant, innovative, learning oriented and flexible environment will achieve a level of competitive capacity.