Our Elastic Future

Get ready for a world of completely flexible resources

By
Tue, January 20, 2009

CIO — I recently talked with Kishore Swaminathan, Accenture's chief scientist. It's always enlightening (and somewhat nerve-racking) when you discuss the future with someone who has such a clear vision of what lies ahead. Our conversation centered on Accenture's "2009 Technology Vision" report and the trends Swaminathan is seeing.

His overarching premise is imagining "a world in which our capabilities can expand or contract at will, in essence elastic, no longer subject to the constraints of physical reality," such as location, distance, language or organizational affiliations. In such a world, organizations compete based not on what they have but rather on knowing and getting what they need.

The five dimensions of this "Everything Elastic" world are:

    1. Elastic Workforce: As work becomes more location-independent, who you work for and how you monetize your work changes. Ultimately, companies become "loose affiliations of people and work becomes 'open.'"

    2. Elastic Services: Providers will come from many different places where "branding and white labeling will be rampant." This will cause customer frustration, presenting opportunities for companies that can provide a cure for it.

    3. Elastic Processes: Business processes, just like infrastructure, will be able to expand or contract based on business demands. This outcome will be driven by the decoupling of business process from traditional software systems or by partnering with organizations outside company walls.

    4. Elastic Innovation: "Open Innovation" becomes the norm, with anyone able to partake in the traditionally closed models of R&D. We're already seeing this start to occur with the growth of open innovation communities like InnoCentive.

    5. Elastic IT: IT costs will track more closely to the immediate needs of the business. In essence, "the gap between innovation and industrialization will narrow since successful innovations can be rapidly scaled up and unsuccessful innovations scaled down without requiring large capital investments."

What makes this report worth reading is the way it explores the technology trends and market influences shaping this premise of "Everything Elastic."

If you would like a copy of your own, just send me an e-mail (mfriedenberg@cxo.com) and I will be happy to pass one along.

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