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Virtual life to be a reality by 2010

IN an earlier article for Business News I cited an old quote, “Yesterday’s heresy is today’s orthodoxy and tomorrow’s history”.

It has been observed that 80 per cent to 90 per cent of the organisations we work in today will not exist in twenty years time or will be radically different.

Organisations are fragmenting and dying out with ever increasing frequency and unpredictability. ‘Merger mania’ is the flavour of the month. The pace of change is accelerating and is now verging on chaos in some parts of the corporate world.

Other factors in this helter-skelter of change are new technologies. We can only start to imagine the impact these changes will have on organisations and the world of work in industrialised countries over the next decade.

So, here are a few predictions about the future, bearing in mind the old maxim: “He who lives by the crystal ball soon learns to eat ground glass”.

The ‘virtual corporation’ will be the dominant organisational form. The idea of going to the office will be redundant for many professionals. Ericsson predicts a working revolution, with up to half of its employees already working away from the office on a regular basis.

Many more employees have become highly mobile through the use of smart-phones and other devices that integrate PC technologies with email, mainframe and satellite systems.

In financial services, advertising and consulting, working away from the office most of the time will be the norm.

Forecasters predict 60 per cent of us will be doing this by 2010, marking a return to working patterns that last prevailed in the pre-industrial age.

Home shopping through the web will become the norm with 22.1 million people now shopping on the net. This is already an $88 billion a year industry in the US and it is expected to grow to be a trillion dollar industry by 2010.

Computers in our homes linked to retailers will do our shopping for us. All customer transactions with banks will be done via electronic means by 2005.

Many accountants will be either out of work, or seeking new niches, as intelligent computers take over the day to day management of accounts, inventories, billing, salaries and tax returns.

The global telecommunications industry is worth £1.5 trillion a year. US venture capital invested in these technologies exceeds all others by a factor of four. It will be the world’s single largest industry within five years.

Already 600 million people have personal email addresses. Traffic on the web doubles every 100 days. One third of the world’s population will have personal web sites by 2010.

The Internet will be the primary communication media of the 21st century. Email, work, TV, banking, medical consultations, education at all levels, learning, creativity and design will be conducted through this medium.

Instantaneous language and speech translators will be common and integrated into our onboard bio-computers. Recent errors such as the Fashion Café adverts in Brazil that ran: “Super-molecules, Nomoi Compile, Cloudy Scoffer and Else Metaphors will be at the opening”, will become a thing of the past.



• Nick Forster is a senior lecturer at UWA’s Graduate School of Management.

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