Taking the theme of the new world workplace
further, this article will explore the skills /capabilities required for the
new world manager and new locations/geographies where such managers can be
The world around us is changing. The workplace is
shifting dramatically as well. Businesses are moving their IT and
infrastructure requirements to the cloud. No longer do employees have to punch
in their cards and be tied in to fixed workspaces. Device proliferation and
ubiquitous connectivity are changing not just consumer behavior but are also
dramatically shifting the way we interact with each other. As a result of
consumerization of IT, these changes have had a significant impact on the
enterprise as well. The proportion of mobile workers continues to grow and
technology (i.e., Telepresence, Blackberry Messenger, iPhone apps etc.) is
enabling increasingly productive remote interaction.
The author has in the past written about the changing
nature of the workplace and what the new world workplace will look like. The
article intends to take the theme further and explore the people aspect of the
new world workspace. The new skills/capabilities that will be required to be a
new world manager and where will organizations find such people?
The times they are a changing
Let’s face it; the world we live in is a lot different
from the one we grew up in. The stuff of science fiction that we grew up
reading – think HAL 9000, is becoming the stuff of reality : Siri anyone? We
have changed as being mere ‘consumers’ to ‘creators or collaborators’. The
desire for ownership has changed to that of the need for instant access anytime
and anywhere, giving rise to the trend of collaborative consumption. Augmented
by device proliferation in multiple form factors, ubiquitous connectivity and
ingenious applications, all of which are making work as well as play more
different than ever before.
Transformation of the enterprise
Most technology evolutions in the past have occurred in
the military, academia or industry before trickling on to retail consumers. In
recent times we have seen a reversal of this trend. Ideas such as social
networking, micro-blogging that originated in the consumer space have in a big
way found their way into the enterprise. As have devices such as the iPhone and
iPad. According to the Wall Street Journal, 65 percent of Fortune 100 companies
have deployed or piloted the device.IBM, Verizon, Salesforce are some of the
companies that have launched enterprise specific app stores.
However, the prime reason for this reversal is not
technology, but the people accessing technology. And though this
consumerization of IT has created several challenges for the traditional IT
infrastructure and the IT department, it has created an even bigger challenge
for the HR personnel. In this digitally connected world what are the skills
required for the new world manager and where does one find such managers?
What are the skills required to be a ‘New
virtual teams: Advances in collaboration technology have made organizations
location agnostic. They can hire the best possible person for the job,
irrespective of the person’s location. A new world manager will need to work
with and manage teams across cultures and time zones. New world managers will
be required to have the maturity to manage their team by outcomes rather than
by observation. New world managers will have to find smarter ways to engage and
ensure team bonding in the absence of physical presence.
technology: Needless to say, new world managers will be innovators and early
adopters of technology. They will be open in trying out and experimenting with
technology that will help in increasing the productivity of the team and at the
same time have the ability to work with (or around) traditional enterprise IT
on: Gone are the days of the traditional -9 to 5′ work days. With virtual teams
and stakeholders working across time zones, new world managers will have to be
on all the time. They will also need to be smart workers and should have
ability to switch off and go in for a digital detox once in a while to
recuperate from the information overload.
According to a study by IDC, an IT market research agency by 2013 nearly
one-third of the world’s workforce will be mobile. This meansthat nearly 1.2
billion people will be working without the observation of a supervisor. New
world managers will be expected to work with high levels of integrity and
of the World: Globalization made it necessary for managers to interact across
cultures. However, in this era of connectedness, global competition for talent
and advancements in collaboration technology such as Telepresence, the new world
manager might be a South African living in London working for an Indian MNC
managing a team spread across Singapore, India and North America!
Where will you find such people?
A recent study of S&P 500 companies found more Indian
CEOs than any other nationality except American. There are certain
characteristics about India that have made it the ideal breeding ground for the
current generation of managers and leaders.
Resource constraints, technology leap-frogging, the
diversity within the country, fierce competition, a relatively strict
educational curriculum, the hunger to make it to the IITs or IIMs and the fact
that we can speak English (often better than any other language) are some of
the contributing factors.
However, advancements in unified communications and
collaboration technology have however, opened up the playing field and made
organizations location agnostic. The leadership team at Tata Communications is
based in 4 continents in 9 cities. India does have a distinct advantage but the
next new world manager can be found almost anywhere.
By Srinivasa Addepalli, senior vice president, Corporate
Strategy, Tata Communications