Yesterday, I met with a server manufacturer that builds high quality products and does a really good job of distributing them around the world. However, that's not their real talent. Over the years, the company has remade itself several times -- producing many types of components and systems, and offering many types of service -- in response to rapid changes in the world economy, technology, and markets. They are good at becoming whatever the market needs them to be, but they are tired of being reactive instead of proactive.
This is not unusual. Most business plans have to be altered or scrapped in response to forces outside the plan writer's control. I'm sure Google Wave seemed likely to surf to success by the folks behind it, but their barometer of the future gave a false reading.
As we all know, there's a lot of information out there-from magazines to blogs, there is more content than anyone could possibly consume in a lifetime. I don't even have time to read Page Six anymore, which says a lot. Sure, a maddening percentage of it is either garbage or recycled garbage. The problem is that a lot of it is stuff you could use. The biggest worry is of missing something useful that you didn't realize you needed to know.
This week, I looked at a perennial idea with staying power—that is the office of the future. Maybe it’s the sci fi-ish, future-adoring side of our culture, or maybe it just has to do with the never ending drive to improve efficiencies, but the quest for the better office hasn’t stopped since productivity experts began theorizing about how to reduce paper records.
Fast forward, and Hewlett Packard continues the tradition with its CoolTown Innovation Center in Singapore, which features smart surfaces that make use of RFID tags and data-reading pens, and sensors on document trays that record when a document is input or output. Cisco has its Smart + Connected building solutions, now on display at the Incheon Global Fair and Festival in Korea. There have been other models from IBM and other tech firms.
Yet, in the short run, for many workers, “tomorrow’s office” is turning out to be one based at home. Looking at these trends got me wondering if more of you are supporting greater numbers of home-based workers (or adopting other distributed workforce schemes). Maybe this is in response to the recession, or maybe it is part of a longer term plan. If so, I’d love to hear how you have been coping with the technical—and other aspects—that such a set-up requires.