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9/6/2013
11:26 AM
Vala Afshar
Vala Afshar
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Picturing Your Social Business In 2020

What will a "social business" look like seven years from now? For starters, the CIO will have a transformed role.

 Facebook's Futuristic Data Center: Inside Tour
Facebook's Futuristic Data Center: Inside Tour
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Futurists predict that by the year 2020, clothing will feature memory devices to capture our daily experiences and smartphones will beam images directly to our retinas. Doctors will test drugs that end the obesity epidemic and asteroid mining will be a new industry. But what will a "social business" look like seven years from now?

For one thing, most of today's businesses won't be around in 2020 -- 71% of them will fail within 10 years, according to Statistic Brain. To survive, all businesses will need to be highly agile and collaborative; in other words, they will all need to be social.

Today, social companies are aggressively outsourcing every function that's not strategic or mission critical. Forrester Research predicts that most central IT departments will disappear by 2020 as IT functions move into other business departments, while Dick Csaplar of Aberdeen predicts the end of data centers. (VMware CEO Paul Gelsinger begs to differ, arguing that "people who say put everything into the cloud have never met a highly regulated customer.") Software-as-a-service has already begun eliminating the traditional role of IT: For example, professionals now turn directly to the cloud for applications such as email, CRM, backup and even system management.

[ How connected will future vehicles be? Read 5 Ways Big Data Can Improve Your Car. ]

CIOs, meantime, will survive this revolution but take on vastly different roles. "The CIO will play the role of orchestrator and integrator of external services and service providers instead of internally building and owning such applications directly, while at the same time directing more front-end, customer-facing work," says Forrester Research Director Christopher Mines. In general, effective CIOs will take responsibility for turning innovation into business value.

CIOs won't be the only ones adjusting to new responsibilities. By the year 2020, the entire notion of a company employee will change. Google CEO Eric Schmidt thinks that within five years, computers might be able to pass the Turing test, indicating that a machine's intelligence is indistinguishable from a human's. Computers, some predict, will be powerful enough to simulate the human brain. Optimistically, these new levels of computing power will augment the insight and creativity of employees rather than replace them.

Because successful businesses will depend more than ever on the quality of their employees, the HR department will be pivotal. Recruiters are already looking at potential employees' social media presence and Google search results rather than just traditional resumes. By 2020, employees will rely on continually available, real-time performance feedback using gamification concepts such as badge incentives rather than just the dreaded annual performance review. Professional development will make increasing use of interactive training and massive open online courses.

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csrollyson
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csrollyson,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/1/2013 | 6:54:57 PM
re: Picturing Your Social Business In 2020
@Vala, thanks for an awesome, pithy call to action! As a corporate (social business) strategy consultant, I agree with your thesis here, that businesses need to get social and digital to survive, and they need to be aggressive if they want to thrive. For all readers who may feel afraid of machines displacing humans in many current jobs, I'll offer these insights.

Most people don't realize it, but a lot of what we still regard as "management" will be unnecessary. Because the global economy is dominated by large, complex organizations, a lot of management and coordination have been required to keep the balls in the air. I agree with Vala that orgs and networks will increasingly self-manage. Bad news for people who like relatively well paid administrivia jobs (and they do have their charm).

The good news is, the puck is going to a far more fun, creative place. The catch is, to thrive in the "Creative Class" (google Richard Florida), people need to awaken the right sides of their brains, which have too often atrophied. My new book, The Social Channel, posits that, as long as humans are the customers (instead of machines), people have nothing to worry about because people will always value the incremental value that only other people can give. Machines will get more humanlike, but people will discount their value *because* they are machines. Customer "experience" will be the bedrock of the Knowledge Economy, not what we used to think of as products.

@Vala, how would you advise people to prepare? My crystal ball says, get as close to the human elements of experience and differentiation as possible. Machines will always be inferior there.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
9/11/2013 | 7:39:35 PM
re: Picturing Your Social Business In 2020
This paints a ratings-heavy picture that will stress out many people. The social business of 2020 will face that challenge, too.
bnilsson018
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bnilsson018,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/11/2013 | 3:04:27 AM
re: Picturing Your Social Business In 2020
Combine the benefits of internal collaboration as well as extended collaboration (collective intelligence) available to social businesses with the sorts of machine-to-machine communication referenced by Chris Murphy above, and you have an unstoppable competitive advantage over non-social businesses.

The changes and new technologies coming between now and 2020 only play into the strengths of the social business. Even with these technologies, a non-social business is at a crippling disadvantage in understanding and delivering the customer experience demanded by Gen-C.
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
9/10/2013 | 10:11:50 PM
re: Picturing Your Social Business In 2020
Of all these trends, the most powerful to me is this passive collection of data. Set aside the privacy concerns a minute and think what that means for companies and for consumer expectations for product performance. How can you not know that my car stopped working, it died three hours ago?
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
9/10/2013 | 9:28:52 PM
re: Picturing Your Social Business In 2020
How much does the social element of social business really have to do with this picture of the future? Seems more like a sketch of the future of software in general
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