Updated: The Future of Work

One of my main investment theses over the past year or three, especially in private companies, has been that work is being rewired. As much fun as it has fun been to play in touch interfaces, cheap home videoconferencing, messaging services like Twitter, cloud services like Dropbox, streaming, and mobile apps, these have mostly been consumer-centric in their initial incarnation. My argument — and it’s one I make in presentations — is that this has been a dress rehearsal for big change in business.

It is overdue, of course. While home technologies have changed radically in the last decade, most of what you see in the modern (sic.) workplace doesn’t look very different from what you might have seen in 2000, or earlier. It’s still very locked down, fat client and asynchronous. At home, however, most of what we do centers on apps we didn’t use a decade ago, like Dropbox, Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, etc., and even the hardware we use is different, with network-attached storage rising, laptops and tablets triumphant, and smart phones ubiquitous. While those changes are trickling into large businesses, it’s still mostly calendar year 2000 in Fortune 500 land.

It’s all changing. In many ways, as I said above, it’s a kind of rewiring of work. We’re finding new, cheaper and more resilient ways to communicate, share and process information. Physical presence is become gradated, with it less important that you be … somewhere, sometime.

This all feeds back into technology. My expectation is that variants on the many current consumer companies will show up with business variants of popular consumer services, and some of the providers of those consumer services will turn out to be powerhouses in the late-adopter world of big(ish) business. I expect repurposed consumer companies, buy-outs by business incumbents, and a workplace — assuming the world doesn’t go to hell first — a decade from now that is wildly different from the current time warp. [-]

[Update] My frend Parand weighs in smartly here.

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