Impact of four way confluence on hierarchical business organizations

One day sooner than we thought Big Data, Social Media, Mobile Computing and Cloud Computing will meld in one single hand held gadget – a confluence much more powerful than sum of the individual trends that are merely converging as of today.

Confluence of converging technologies: Distinct technologies combining to form one powerful product that leverages each individual technology’s indigenous characteristics.

Confluences that changed the world

Some examples of confluence would be the steam engine (fire + wheel) , talkies (movie + audio) , and of course, the Internet too (telecom+ computing) . The steam engine, apart from propelling the Industrial Revolution, provided a catalytic approach to harnessing energy for mechanical activity. Sound films brought about a transformation in defining cinema as an industry globally. The Internet was the driving force behind the emergence of the Digital Age/Communication Revolution.

Next big confluence

Smartphones and tablets are bringing about similar upheavals that have greatly shaped history and the evolution of human life through the four-way confluence of converging technologies.

Google is already preparing you for the future by launching their “Knowledge Graph” initiative – where search results are based on “who” is searching . Your smartphone will enable this context sensitive search by providing information about you, your likes and dislikes, your location and current interests. Google also expects individuals to use their hand held devices than laptops or desktops for all the office work which is evident in this recent acquisition

This next big confluence is the confluence of social, mobile, cloud and big data packed in a hand held device. This powerhouse of technology would usher in (if it hasn’t already), the age of YOU- the individual.  BYOD really means that organizations don’t want just you – but you empowered by your own device. Next generation of professionals who are still attending school are already taking their own tablets to school . By the time this generation joins the workforce we would have completely accepted BYOD as the standard . It’s amazing to see how the most advanced, innovative and ground-breaking technologies have one ultimate aim- to fit into the palm of the user. The result is that individuals have become technologically better equipped than the organizations they work for.

Impact on corporate organizations

Lets examine how this is impacting organizations. With more easy access to emerging technologies, we will have corporations metamorphosing into flat hierarchies, more efficient, self-regulating units more like starfish than spider. Most companies believe that they will be increasingly using non-employee workforce consisting of contractors and freelancers as per this independent report .We are leveraging social media to create collaborative enterprises of tomorrow. Heirachical structures are giving way to networks– networks of suppliers, customers, partners, employees and prospects.

Unlike a hierarchy where an individual could be part of one hierarchy, networks are more flexible- allowing her to be a member of multiple networks. Networks also allow varying degrees of involvement – from a curious onlooker to a fully committed leader.  Networks are already creating millions of cross cutting relationships generating enormous amounts of social data which could only be used by employing big data tools for organizing and searching. Third component of the confluence is yet not merged – Cloud is being used by individuals to store and share e.g. iCloud, GoogleDrive, SkyDrive , DropBox etc. With cloud storage to hold more data than a hard drive we will soon stop heading to our workstation or firing up our laptops to connect, communicate or transact business. We will always be plugged into our networks- anytime, anywhere! Walls of progressive corporate organizations will become more flexible and porous trusting and empowering us as individuals.  And who knows some of them might even metamorphose into self-organizing networks.

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