Skills & Careers

Company of the future: Global, small and unique

JP Rangaswami, managing director of BT Design, says: “The company of tomorrow won’t be worrying about using Facebook. Instead, it will focus on becoming like Facebook. More and more, companies will resemble borderless social networks with low barriers to entry, where people congregate to transact business across a variety of business models.”

This will be quite a turnaround. How many companies do you know that are supposedly involved in high-tech services yet ban their employees from using social networks, podcasts or blogs? How do they think people share information these days?

I still remember the days before email, when a memo would go around with a stapled distribution list. This is the distant past now for anyone under 30. If people organise their own life around networks of contacts then isn’t it obvious that companies will have to?

Marc Vollenweider, CEO of Evalueserve, believes so – to an extent: “Companies will be virtual but not totally. Personal relationships will still count a lot especially at senior levels and for sales. What will really change though is the global nature of companies. There won’t be this present sense of ‘onshore’ and ‘offshore’.”

And in future offshoring won’t be just about saving money by working in low-cost locations. “Global companies won’t go for cost arbitrage. They will seek skills arbitrage. This means that a lot of the present suppliers need to raise their game and provide higher value services,” says Vollenweider.

This makes sense. If a company is already operating across the globe, how can a part of it be considered offshore or onshore?

Another major force that will change how companies are structured in developed societies is a demographic shift.

Peter Brudenall, a partner in the global technology and outsourcing group of law firm Hunton & Williams, says: “Companies of the future may be forced into tapping into a global talent pool. The population in the US and across Europe is ageing – with the European population ageing faster than any other continent. This raises the possibility that companies of the future will simply not have a large enough domestic talent pool in order to satisfy their labour needs. Sourcing services offshore will therefore become a necessity if companies are to remain competitive.”

In addition to an ageing workforce, Martyn Hart, chairman of the National Outsourcing Association, says a main globalising force will be the small player – big multinationals are already in low-cost locations anyway – with virtual company structures.

He says: “In outsourcing terms, visionaries have long been speaking about virtual companies – basically a board, with a few crucial people conducting the core business whilst everything else is outsourced. Whether this becomes a reality is doubtful – a company is only as good as the people who work for it after all. Whilst it’s unlikely that UK plc will start running in this way, it could be within the grasp of many smaller enterprises.”

In thinking about the company of the future, brand will be a key factor too.

Andy Mulholland, global CTO of Capgemini, says: “Globalisation will see companies caught between matching the specification of an unknown brand with the identical specification from a known brand. In such cases technology permitting ‘intimacy’ and service will add an important differentiator to what would otherwise be a straightforward decision on price, and trust. The product/price will be the offshore-globalised offer, whilst trust and intimacy becomes the onshore brand offer.”

It sounds like global service companies may follow the path we have seen taken by the manufacturers of consumer goods in recent decades.

Mulholland adds: “The ability to granulise a ‘product’ coupled with the ability to excel at partnerships different enterprises, markets and communities will be a key factor in enlarging companies’ opportunities to make a sale. Service and services to attract and support customers will increasingly become the competitive battlefield rather than product and resources to make things.”

This sounds like the sportswear manufacturers who sell membership of a certain tribe, rather than performance on the track.

It all relates to the concept of uniqueness. A high-tech service company is a service company is a service company. So long as the company is competent, then how is it different from any other?

If some spirit of uniqueness and experience, possibly even aspiration, can be injected into that brand then it becomes an entirely new proposition in the market – and an entirely different type of company.

One day we might hire a company like IBM just because it’s the kind of partner we want in our own corporate ecosystem, rather than because of any technical competence or reputation for delivery. And by then, most CIOs will probably be wearing Converse trainers to work.


    Popular posts

    Related posts