Bigger, better, faster-for more than a century we have been driving toward greater efficiency by creating routine or automated processes that cut time, costs, or both.
While this single-minded focus has spurred continual growth, it has also blinded society to where the true value lies. Moving forward, perfect processes will not be of paramount importance. Future progress and prosperity may well hinge on the ability of our organizations and institutions to connect the right people with the right ideas at the right time.
"Our use of technology has sought to minimize the role of people. Now it is time to create more balance by accessing and leveraging the practices and knowledge that only people can provide," observes John Seely Brown, the former chief scientist of Xerox Corp. and co-author of the landmark business book The Only Sustainable Edge: Why Business Strategy Depends on Productive Friction and Dynamic Specialization.
In contrast to previous generations of hardware and software that focused on automating processes-effectively forcing us to adopt the workflows of the machines we operate-a new generation of technology is emerging that will put people back in control.
Clearly, so-called social software, which includes collaborative workspaces, blogs, and wikis and allows anyone to update and edit webpages instantly and democratically, will continue to be part of the solution. Indeed, this breed of software is now developing much more robust capabilities to enable individuals, organizations, and institutions to connect with each other.
However, it is the rapid advance of the mobile internet and the vast array of devices, applications, and content types that have accompanied its meteoric rise that allow us to connect in new ways and push our collective abilities in new directions.
Indeed, advances in communications and computing technologies, the advent of the mobile internet, and the proliferation of advanced high-speed networks and devices are producing a new order in business collaboration, communication, and productivity. The global village envisaged by Buckminster Fuller is emerging; a communication- and information-centric environment where individuals work in concert with technology to streamline and enhance the capture and flow of an organization's data, information, and knowledge and deliver them to individuals and teams engaged globally in accomplishing their specific goals.
Fluid, Flexible Content
Against this backdrop, the popular term "mobile enterprise" cannot fully capture the transformation taking place in companies around the globe. For Martin Frid-Nielsen, CEO of Soonr, a company offering mobile cloud services, it's not about enterprises embracing mobility: It's about them absorbing mobility into every aspect of what they do. In the not-so-distant future, "The concept of mobility will be a given for every company everywhere," Frid-Nielsen observes. Right now, the focus for companies is on cost savings and efficiency improvements associated with distributed workforces, permeable corporate boundaries, and the advance of personal mobile devices (ranging from smartphones and iPhones to laptops and notebooks). However, mobility will soon "be core to how we work and live, and connected will be our new default state."
That day could arrive sooner than we think. The worldwide economic slowdown has pushed companies to rethink investments in real estate, reduce full-time staff, and revamp the tools and technologies they offer to provide more people more fluid access to information. "Companies are shutting down offices and asking their employees or freelancers to work out of their homes and hold meetings in Starbucks," Frid-Nielsen, says. "The enterprise is decentralized, the workforce is fluid, and so is the data."
Soonr's solution enables this flexibility by providing users with an automatic and continuous way to back up files remotely to the cloud once they have marked the ones they wish to save. Soonr's file structure allows every file or folder uploaded to be copied, shared, commented on, and searched. From documents to videos, users can access and amend their files on-the-fly using the software installed on their PCs, laptops, or mobile devices, removing the need to download web-based tools. Soonr is available from any device using a web browser as well as from a recently launched iPhone app.