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Mobile, Future of Work and The Collaborative Economy

What is hot? I mean, what are people clamoring to these days?

I enter a room full of futurists and I listen. Uber this and Air BNB that; these companies are changing the way business is done by reorganizing human potential into a way that is cohesive, manageable and let’s not forget useful to the rest of society.

Sure Uber has had its name drug through the mud over the past few weeks. They have some explaining to do, but like all companies, they are going through the pains of growth and the unwelcomed side effects of an always-on economy. Trust me, CEO’s have been saying stupid and insensitive things for as long as the title has existed. The only difference is today the microphone is always on. But I digress…

What is becoming more evident than ever is how consumers who are also our corporate buyers are looking to interact with technology, and perhaps the most profound outcome is this…

I believe we have entered an age of total ubiquity. No more social, cloud, big data and mobile as silos; today we are in a world where those things are just part of being. They are part of the balance that has shifted from work-life to life-work. Being connected is just what we do. We share, connect, engage and live our lives in the public realm. Our fears of privacy are futile as the lines blur between us the person and us the avatar. We are singular, human and the world will forever be different because of it.

Working In The Future

Omni-channel isn’t just a marketing ploy where we tie people’s physical and digital experiences together. In the future, work will be about endless connectivity. Mobile is bringing us to a place where we can accomplish more than we ever could in an office from anywhere we have access to data.

This isn’t going to have a small impact on work; in reality this is going to cause businesses large and small to reimagine work. Consider this…

In the future, work won’t be done in a place. Instead it will be done from anywhere and everywhere. Companies will be smaller, more nimble and more insistent on matching the work to be accomplished with the person who can best perform the work.

Futurist Faith Popcorn shares in one of her presentations about the rapid growth of freelance workers. In fact, today 33% of Americans are freelancers and the estimate is that by 2020 it will be closer to 50%.

For startups and small businesses this presents a seismic shift that is going to level the playing field and allow for rapid expansion. Just think with applications like E-lance, Odesk and Tinder how a company can access the best talent in the world at a moments notice and deploy them to solve the biggest (and smallest problems) they face in a day?

And to go beyond tools that help us access the best talent, we are also seeing evolution in the way we engage and interact within the tools we already use. Just this past week, #NewWayToWork was the top trending hashtag on Twitter with the roll out of a new brand of email from IBM called “Verse.” And while next generation of email may be how the solution is being explained, what is really happening here is we are seeing the end of the inbox as we know it. In the future, the inbox will encompass our entire connected ecosystem and then prioritize it to make sure we are as efficient and productive as possible.

Tech Matters More Than Ever In The Collaborative Economy

Now, don’t be fooled by what I said about the end of talks about the technology silos. While I fully expect the conversations about the technology to subside, their importance is going to become dramatically more important.

For Air BnB, Uber, ODesk or any other collaborative economy application to fulfill its purpose it depends on social, mobile, data and cloud to fill their roles. People learn about these applications through social and they leverage their powers through accessibility and information, which has to managed, organized and deployed to the consumer in a way that is simple to understand. All of this is powered by technology.

Having said that, work reimagined isn’t going to be about technology, but rather powered by it. The evidence is right in front of us as each day we take to the web to socialize, engage and share. Our lives are no longer defined by our work like they once were, and for those of us holding on to that demarcation, our resolve will soon be exhausted.

In the future we work smarter. We use the tools to create and inspire progress that leads to better business outcomes that solve greater challenges and hopefully, if we let it, create a better quality of life.

What do you see as the future of work?

This post was brought to you by IBM for Midsize Business and opinions are my own. To read more on this topic, visit IBM’s Midsize Insider. Dedicated to providing businesses with expertise, solutions and tools that are specific to small and midsized companies, the Midsize Business program provides businesses with the materials and knowledge they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

Image: Creative Commons

Daniel Newman

After 12 years of running technology companies including a CEO appointment at the age of 28, I traded the corner office for a chance to drive the discussion on how the digital economy is going to forever change how business is done. I'm an MBA, adjunct business professor and 5x author of best-selling business books including "The Millennial CEO" and "The New Rules of Customer Engagement." Pianist, soccer fan, husband and father, not in that order. Oh and for work...I'm the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group and President of V3 Broadsuite, a family of marketing and media agencies that help companies be found, seen and heard in a cluttered digital world. I also give keynote speeches around the world on the topics such as digital transformation, technology and marketing.