Enterprises of the future - Moving beyond geography and time

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Enterprises of the future - Moving beyond geography and time

V. Gopalratnam, VP, Information Technology and CIO Globalisation, Cisco

The enterprise space has become complex and fast changing due to operating across varying geographies, new business models and new customer segments. This new type of enterprise must be able to innovate and learn at a speed equal to or greater than the speed of change in their addressable markets. Although adoption of technology is not new to enterprises, the scope of technology use has increased radically in the last few years.
Technology has redefined the way enterprises run their business, facilitate communication among stakeholders and conduct R&D Rather than simply making existing processes quicker, cheaper and more accurate, technology has actually brought about a paradigm shift in the way companies conduct their business. Future enterprises will continue to change the way we learn, live, work and play.
These changes highlight the aspect of global integration and the need for business model innovation. This presents both serious challenges and exciting opportunities. Increasingly, factors such as geography, time and distance - are becoming irrelevant with technology providing tools to collaborate and communicate irrespective of these factors. The IT organization already plays a critical role in the current business environment for enterprises and businesses that are looking for higher productivity and new business models.
As tough economic conditions put pressure on enterprises and large business organizations to improve margins, IT has proved to be a boon for enterprises who invested in technologies that bring down costs and increase business productivity, including collaboration tools such as video and TelePresence, network security, network storage and IP telephony. Additionally, Virtualization, cloud computing, video, unified communications (UCS), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is also gaining immense acceptance and relevance in the enterprise. Earlier, innovation was driven mostly by enterprises and then filtered down into consumer space.
In the new era, there has been a role reversal of sorts with enterprises increasingly adopting popular consumer technology. With shifting demographic patterns and a diverse and tech savvy Gen Y workforce coming into the workplace, our enterprises will have to provide them the technologies that they are using in their daily lives. We have seen the emergence of 'corporate social networking platforms such as Yammer, Twitter, Facebook, You-tube amongst others that are targeted at the enterprise.
While enterprises are grappling with issues such as information security and the scalability that Web 2.0 brings, it is clear that these technologies are seamlessly entering the corporate space. And finally, the new enterprise is getting more and more serious about social responsibility. This means focusing on the enterprise as genuine, not just generous. Corporate social responsibility impacts almost every aspect of the enterprise operations - including involving customers in solving issues (e.g. giving shop-per bags as a green solution). Enterprises are focusing on simultaneously improving efficiency and sustainability (e.g. online supplier exchange connecting the supply chain of the enterprise). The enterprise is focusing on doing good while doing well.
Looking at current trends, we can see a few patterns as to how future enterprises will evolve. The biggest change in enterprise IT in the next few years will be the redundancy of 'physical' office spaces. With the network as a platform for advanced communication and collaboration technologies, the very concept of going to office may become irrelevant. Increasingly, organizations are investing in technologies that help employees work remotely - while collaborating seamlessly and improving productivity. We will see increased popularity of 'mobility solutions' that allow employees to carry on their functions from their smart phones or other mobile devices, while they are on the move.
Technologies such as cloud computing, virtualization etc. will make a person's physical location completely redundant. As a result of these changes, another trend that will emerge is increased importance of secure information sharing. Since data may no longer physically reside within the organization and will be accessed from remote locations, enterprises will have to invest in enhanced security solutions. We are rapidly becoming a global knowledge society of 6 billion minds. We need to bring this knowledge to bear if we are to over-come the challenges and seize the opportunities of the 21st century.

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