Retrieved from the FutureWorld Archives by popular demand...
Dateline: June 1987
"In Search of Simplicity"
(Beyond the Search for Excellence)
Information Management Tools:
Their Future and Their Potential Impact on the Corporation
by Wolfgang E Grulke
This article was published in various publications during 1987 and won the prestigious NACCA award for the best business article of the year.
Also available: The annotated "In Search of Simplicity".
Click here to see how accurate these 1987 forecasts for 1997 proved to be!
During the next ten years business will be increasingly influenced by multiple new emerging technologies across a wide front. Multiple dominant technologies from new uses of silicon to fibre-optics and super conductors to wafer-thin displays will enable advanced applications in end-user systems, the true electronic office, expert systems, artificial intelligence, intelligent buildings and networks.
This paper highlights some of these technological catalysts and extrapolates their potential impact on the corporation, and predicts:
- A change in some fundamental workstyles.
- A flattening of the corporate hierarchy as improved internal and external information flows change the structural needs of business.
- A creeping complexity that will demand more generalist rather than specialist skills.
- A change in our understanding of ‘productivity’ as the decision cycle and the elapsed time of some tasks is reduced to zero.
Based on extracts from
"Ape-Man-Robot: The Evolution Continues"
PART 1 :
THE NEXT TEN YEARS OF TECHNOLOGY
"We can neither put back the clock nor slow down our forward speed, and as we are already flying pilot-less, on instrument controls, it is even too late to ask where we are going".
Igor Stravinsky (1882 – 1971)
"We always underestimate future advances in raw technology, but, conversely, we always overestimate mankind's ability to integrate the products of technology into his society".
Wolfgang E Grulke, 1979
Over the last 200 years civilisation’s most important resources have changed from being labour and land, to energy and capital today. The key resource for the future will be information, most of it contained in and manipulated by computers. The ‘centre of the computer universe’ will move from mainframes to software and information management. We see hints of that trend already today. Rather than the institutionalised computer departments of large organisations the user will become the prime buyer.
In technology terms, we are entering a new age of multiple dominant technologies. The impact that the silicon technology had in the seventies and eighties will be surpassed by a host of emerging materials and production technologies, each of which has the potential to have a significant influence on our working and home lives.
Gallium Arsenide, optical fibres, ceramics, super-conductivity, biological engineering and macro-engineering are just a sample of some of the new terminology we are going to have to come to grips with in the future.
In addition to the new developments, many current areas are reaching maturity and levels of standardisation that will provide new impetus for growth and interaction. The much-touted ‘office of the future’, with its merging of data, text, voice and image formats is only now becoming a reality.
Telecommunications standards and architectures are beginning to be much more consistent across these types of data and increasingly across different vendors. Both vendor-initiated architectures (such as IBM’s Systems Network Architecture, and the equivalent office information architectures) and industry initiatives such as ‘open systems interconnect’ are seeing to that.
It is now possible to connect personal computers to a wide variety of information networks and data bases. Financial institutions are co-operating in sharing networks and automated teller machines. "We owe it to the future to begin to get ready now"
All these initiatives make any given computer much more powerful and useful, and a far better return on investment. That can only lead to new phenomenal growth in the long-term , which will continue to be fuelled by a host of new possibilities, some as yet unseen. Already the electronics revolution has started the convergence of the publishing, broadcasting and entertainment industries.
Medicine will be revolutionised by new tools, techniques, robots and basic research into the nature of illness. The influence of biotechnology on the electronics industry will be huge.
Mankind has never before experienced such a flood and convergence of new technologies. There will be many equally strong developmental trends influencing the future and, as in any complex system, they will have an effect on each other. Your industry will not be immune. The opportunities inherent in this flood of new technologies are there for the taking. We owe it to the future to begin to get ready now.
At the end of the next year period, the major industrialised countries, Europe, Japan and the US, will be criss-crossed by fibre optic transmission lines carrying unlimited (by today’s standards) traffic into homes and office at low cost. Some third-world countries will have leap-frogged the copper cable network era, and implemented the new technology directly, the way India did with television fed from communication satellites.
The popular media dream of a ‘workstation on every desk’ will be close to realisation. Almost everyone will have access to sophisticated computer power on the desktop, and fully one third of these will be able to converse with the technology using simple instructions, expert systems and the spoken word.
Workstations will be available in a variety of sizes and configurations, but the best seller for business and home use will be the A4 ‘Notepad Computer’, with a full range of the above functions, selling at about US$1000.
The technology inside these machines will be familiar to a time-traveller from today. It will be primarily silicon chip based, offering computer power in excess of 30 million instructions per second to drive voice and handwriting recognition. Storage will be virtually unlimited, and plug-on optical or bubble storage will allow incremental growth measured in gigabytes, the equivalent of a whole bookshelf full of paperbacks.
Mainframe computers will have become so dull and uninteresting that they will get the same publicity and star treatment as electrical power stations do today. As far as the average user is concerned, he will be able to get computer and telecommunication power ‘on tap’, wherever he is; whether at home, in the office, or away on business in a hotel. The telephone companies will offer public access to information networks the way public telephones are available today. No one will care where the computing power is being pumped from. These large mainframe computers (they will literally be computing power stations) will run largely unattended and unseen.
The growth in the biotechnology industry will begin to rival the explosive growth of the computer industry in the 1970s. Biotech spin-offs will begin to influence the computer industry. The Bio-Chip will appear in a few of the first leading-edge products in the market offering processing speeds and miniaturisation many orders of magnitude better than today's.
In third-world countries (including South Africa!) technology will play an increasing part in promoting the advancement of the industrial structure. Technology will b one the few ways in which these countries can develop niche export markets quickly. Local resources will be supplemented by seed technology and capital from outside, and an entrepreneurial determination from within.
A major drive will be to make the products of technology 'invisible'. The less the user has to think about the product he is using, the better. He should never have to alter his preferred workstyle for the sake of the technology, unless that change is desired by the user in return for real new benefits. Within this decade, using a computer will become a natural, exhilarating and pleasurable experience. Technology must become a natural extension of Man. The next decade will see to that.
In a sense, the end of the next decade could be a magical moment I time when a great number of the currently emerging technologies come together. Like a large number of skydivers who 'just happened to bump into each other' up there, and jockeyed into the most amazing free-fall star formation of all time.
We will see a new grand convergence emerging. Whereas in the late 1970s we saw the computer and telecommunications industry experiencing an astounding marriage, and text, data and voice communications being carried along the same wire for the first time, the new grand convergence in the mid-1990s will bring together the already awesome electronic family, with a whole host of new partnerships - the marriage of publishing, broadcasting and entertainment, of medicine and farming with biotechnology, and of biotechnology and the new world of electronics, expert systems and supercomputers.
We are living in the most exciting time in human history - the second half of the 20th century. There is an old Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times". Well, these are they!
Like no other industry, high technology relies totally on constant and explosive innovation for its survival. This drive is creating a new and potent technological cocktail for the 21st century. You ain't seen nothin' yet!
But…what of the effect on the corporation?
Part 2 of this article looks at four inter-related issues that illustrate the kind of pressures that you as managers and executives are likely to experience in the coming years:
- The Death of the Commuter
- The Saqqara Effect
- The Rise of the Generalist
- A New View of Productivity
The Impact on the Corporation
The Death of the Commuter
"Our traditional concept of work is that you point someone in a direction and he keeps going flat out, and that is work."
Edward de Bono, 1979.
I have yet to meet someone who enjoys commuting to and from the office each day. No one believes that, in order to be considered a serious executive, a businessman needs to sit in a traffic jam upwards of an our a day. It's crazy. We all know it, and wish it would go away.
That bad news is that it probably won't. However, the information industry, in its widest sense, offers the only opportunity to reverse the trend of traffic saturation that is increasingly being experienced by major centres of civilisation. It offers the hope for decentralisation, the opportunity for staggered work hours, fewer and lower commuting peaks.
It will be possible to do some work from home, or form some other more convivial decentralised location, using computer and telecommunications technology instead of the car - a concept now being called tele-commuting.
However, the assumption that at some future time we'll all be tele-commuting is fundamentally wrong. Marvin Centron predicts that by the year 2000 20% of the US white collar workforce will work from home part of the time, and that by the year 2025 this could be more than 50%. The key here is "part of the time". The home will not be the new place of work, but rather an alternative for some of the work, some of the time.
In the past we have drastically underestimated the role played by the office infrastructure in providing a 'safe' predictable environment, outside of the family unit. Often, when problems have beset the family, the office 'family' has provided some of the necessary stability, and vice versa!
Remove this symbiotic relationship, and the pressure on the family unit could be unbearable. In the many early trials where employees have worked from home on a full-time basis, the pressure o the family unit has often been the major negative result, often overshadowing and negating some of the more obvious benefits.
Overall there will be a greater freedom of choice, to work in the city or in the mountains, with a greatly reduced concern for the amount of commuting required. Due to the bridges to the work environment being created by telecommunications, the time to be spent actually in the office can be scheduled on a far more flexible basis, avoiding peak hour traffic and on some days avoiding the journey completely. For all routine in-company communications the employee will be equally 'in touch', whether he is at home or in the office.
The Saqqara Effect
Just 28 km outside modern Cairo, at a point 29 degrees 51 minutes north, 31 degrees 14 minutes east, is a village called Saqqara. The point at which the village now stands was called 'Sokar' in the Old Kingdom of Egypt, and it was an important reference point for the systematic mapping of Egypt. Today, Saqqara is know as the site of the famous stepped pyramid. Built before 2500BC, it is the oldest in Egypt and considered to be the oldest stone structure on the planet. It was built for King Zoser of the Third Dynasty by the architect Imhotep, the Leonardo da Vinci of ancient Egypt, who some years after his death was made a demigod, son of Ptah, the god of craftsmen and technicians.
The pyramid at Saqqara, is unusual in its appearance in that it is made up of several huge steps, in profile much like several square blocks piled on top of each other. Even at a distance it could not be mistaken for one of the familiar 'smooth' pyramids at Giza.
In the heyday of management science in the 1960s, Robert N. Anthony likened the corporate organisational hierarchy to a triangle, or a pyramid. While the concept was not new by any stretch of the imagination (remember that hierarchies date back to the depths of time with hierarchies of angels headed up by archangels), Anthony's triangle is a part of modern management folklore.
In the 1980s the curse of Imhotep hit modern business. Today, what I call 'The Saqqara Effect' is being experienced by many businesses and key executives. The modern organisational pyramid, far from resembling the smooth geometric pyramid, has increasingly turned out to be stepped, exactly like Zoser's pyramid in the barren desert at Saqqara. It is as if some giant corporate surgeon has lopped bits out of the side of Anthony's triangle, and with each cut removed a whole range of jobs in the hierarchy. Management jobs are disappearing as corporations need fewer intermediate levels of management and find that a 'flatter' organisation is more suited to today's information-oriented competitive business environment.
In effect, it was middle management that felt the brunt of the Saqqara Effect. Apart from the obvious benefit of vastly shorter chains of communications and command, the fundamental reason for this effect can be traced to information technology. It can be blamed on computers. Without computers the Saqqara Effect would simply not have been possible.
There is many a financial executive who has the complete financial soul of his business resident on a personal computer right there in his office. He is no longer dependent on a whole army of accountants to compile and analyse financial information. The company's mainframe computer does all the gathering, compilation and simply feeds necessary extracts directly to his PC. The financial executive literally has his fingers directly on the pulse of the business - without the intermediate levels of professional staff and managers.
There are many other similar examples in business today. It is no longer necessary to have to rely on several levels of management in order to have an effective corporate information and management system. Each manager and executive will be more effective and a better asset to the organisation. He will have to be to survive. To the organisation, the quality of its people, and especially its management, will be more important than ever. It will be their biggest competitive edge.
At the professional and operational levels there is an insatiable demand for more and more specialist skills. At the other end of the organisational pyramid there is a demand for more and more diverse skills to be concentrated in fewer and fewer people. This is the trend towards the business 'generalist', discussed later in this article. The middle manager is literally being 'squeezed out' by the demands at the top and bottom of the pyramid.
The effect in human terms, simply stated, is that there are, and will continue to be, fewer opportunities at the top of the organisational pyramid. The practical result in today's business environment has been a proportional increase in horizontal moves, across the hierarchy, as the only way of getting a career edge in the absence of direct upward mobility. In Japan, extreme results of sudden constrained opportunities after a period of fast career growth have included alcoholism, emotional breakdowns and suicides.
Average employee to manager ratios in large organisations will increase. From about 6:1 today, it is not unthinkable that this average could exceed 10:1, and perhaps even 20:1 or 100:1, during the next century.
The long-term effect of this phenomenon is unknown. In the past, a long and steady white collar career path has ensured the maturing of the employee through the ranks of professional, first-line management and middle management through to executive management. Without this in-built business school, how is the executive of the future to get his training and experience? Or, because of the scarcity of jobs at the top of the pyramid, will only the exceptional individual be able to make the quantum leap from professional or first-line manager directly to the boardroom?
The men at the top of the organisational tree will also have to get accustomed to a shorter tenure. They will have got there because of their brilliant entrepreneurial skills, but, while their skills may have been exactly right for the high-speed elevator ride to the boardroom during boom times, they may not necessarily have the staying power, personal discipline, administrative skills and the ability to live within a large corporate hierarchy, required to manage the established operation on a long-term basis.
There are many examples of high technology business mega-stars that fell foul of this phenomenon, of which these three are possibly the most visible. IBM's Don Estridge, who personally was responsible for the development, launch and initial runaway success of the IBM Personal Computer, was subjected to an unflattering horizontal Saqqara move into manufacturing, shortly before his tragic death in Washington's Potomac airline disaster. Steven Jobs finally handed over the reins of the floundering Apple Corporation to a conservative professional management team in 1986. Lotus's Mitchell D. Kapor, the developer of the world's most successful software package Lotus 1-2-3, did the same in July 1986.
While jeans and T-shirts, informal management styles, bull sessions around the spa bath and eastern philosophies may have been popular, and successful, in the heady days of upstart high technology companies, the stark realities of successful day-to-day business management require something rather less glamorous.
The Saqqara Effect may have happened anyway, as pressure to be more competitive and effective built up. But, at the very least, computer technology was a key catalyst. Technology certainly is changing the structure of the corporate organisational charts at an unprecedented pace. The first to feel the full impact may well be the unemployed middle manager. When he joins the blue collar workers in the dole queue, unemployment will truly have come of age.
A career up the management hierarchy will not be an option for the run-of-the-mill management aspirant within the next lifetime.
The Rise of the Generalist
"It's not that I have seen further,
it's just that I have stood higher."
Whoever it was who described a specialist as someone who progressively learns more and more about less and less, until finally he knows everything about nothing, was only partially wrong!
In a future influenced by Multiple Dominant Technologies, the generalist, rather than the expert, will have an extremely powerful role to play.
In 1926 General Smuts used the term 'holism' to describe this need. Someone who could rise above the trees to see the wood for what it really was. In today's (or tomorrow's) sense someone who can assimilate enough about many diverse factors influencing our future, their influences on each other and rise above the obvious short-term effects to see and communicate their genuine implications on the future of life on this planet.
In the future we'll have jobs for all the specialists and experts we can train. For sure the expert has a powerful role to play, but what exactly it will be in the future remains to be seen.
In his 1982 book titled 'The Cult of the Expert' research biologist Brian Ford describes the steady drop in the job complexity of the so-called expert. He cites the example of laboratory staff:
"Culture media and chemical reagents that used to be made up with care and understanding are now ladled from disposable containers. Readings and dials are all automated, so that the amount of brain-power used to obtain results is minimal.
"The way things are moving I would not be surprised to find all these people (laboratory staff who were known as laboratory assistants in the 1940s, technicians by the 1950s, experimental technologists for the 1960s and laboratory scientists by the 1970s) redesignated hyperscientific professorial fellows by the time the decade is out, for by then all they will have to do is switch everything ON in the morning and OFF at home-time."
It is questionable if not having to do these 'basic' tasks is a loss at all, but it is undeniable that technology has moved like a rising tide to engulf most low-level tasks that used to be the reserve of the specialist in many areas of endeavour. The challenge surely is for Man to rise above (and faster than) this rising tide caused by the influence of technology. In this kind of 'task hierarchy' the top-most tasks (and those most difficult for technology, computers and robots to emulate) will be in the domain of the generalist.
Man's ability to do this successfully will give him an edge over machine intelligence. Should he fail, he will lose, once and for all, his dominance and influence over other 'life-forms' on earth.
Unfortunately, generalists are rarer than hen's teeth. It s genuinely difficult to find anyone in the scientific or technical community with the ability, or indeed the inclination, to communicate what are inherently complex concepts with simplicity and clarity, in terms with which the listener is familiar.
That has certainly been my experience in the IBM Corporation. In the last decade, as computer systems have proliferated, both in their types and applications, it has become increasingly difficult to find anyone capable of digesting the plethora of 'techno speak' and translating it into anything approaching a cohesive understandable story which the average businessman understands. And understand it he should. Corporations have consistently increased their spending on computer and other high technology equipment until it now represents one of their largest capital investments.
In my experience, no more than 3 to 5 IBM employees in a thousand have this capability - and I'm convinced it is worse in other high-technology corporations that focus less on communication skills.
So bad was the IBM blight that in 1984/5 the normally conservative IBM employee magazine 'Think' ran a series of quotations and articles on 'Clunkers' (as they called the outbreak of verbal excess) in an attempt to try to get the hundreds of thousands of IBM employees to refrain.
And, it is not necessarily a lack of skill that causes this lack of communication. The lack of inclination to communicate effectively is common in the scientific and technical community also. Professional jealousy, protecting a business investment or patent are some of the typical reasons cited.
No wonder then that even back as far as 1970 Robert Townsend, formerly CEO of Avis (in his book 'Up the Organisation') called computer people "complicators rather than simplifiers"!
This phenomenon has also been a major cause of the cultural walls built by the computer gurus in large organisations, between themselves and the computer users, and management. Whenever cornered with a particularly incisive question, the Data Processing Manager would counter with an avalanche of four-letter acronyms: "The bit in VSAM bombed and overwrote a key byte in our old QSAM and then everything came down with VTAM!" To which there is absolutely no reply. VSAM, QSAM? Pay it again Sam! Who on earth is SAM anyway?
Alienated, both management and the computer people would retreat to the comfort of their own terminology, and effectively kill any further hope of real communication.
In most cases there is absolutely no need to understand the detail to appreciate the whole and its implications. In my youth I remember reading some (now considered) wise man's words to the effect that he judged his own level of progress and civilisation by the number of things he was simply able to forget (things he would be able to do automatically, without thinking).
An excellent example of this 'holism' comes from the infancy of biotechnology, when James Watson and Francis Crick dared to discern the structure of DNA "unencumbered by any knowledge of the chemistry involved". The cynical quote is from scientist Erwin Chargaff, at the time one of the world experts on DNA. While focusing on predicting their failure he, ironically, narrowly missed making the same discovery himself. He may simply have been too close to the problem to see the solution.
Similarly, many of the great 19th century inventions such as the steam engine, telephone and automobile were (in the words of sociologist Krishan Kumar) "the work of inspired and talented tinkerers, many of whom were indifferent to the fundamental scientific laws which underlay their inventions".
The ability to understand the 'whole' is certainly more potent that the ability to understand each of the component parts, no matter how detailed the understanding.
Personally I have never found the need to understand the detailed workings of the internal combustion engine and the associate peripheral equipment in my car, in order to make effective and constant use of it. I would be totally lost without it, but have never succumbed to the many temptations put before me in Popular Mechanics and Science Illustrated to learn more about it. I have simply subscribed to the belief that my particular skills are best employed elsewhere, and I am quite prepared to walk away from a car that has given up the ghost and to pay someone far more professional than I to do the necessary.
So it should be with computers and other technology. It is enough to be told that the car is a method of transport, that it moves from A to B if the controls are operated in a certain way and that it needs nourishment in the form of petrol, oil and water when indicated by the appropriate dials. Any bit of technology that is not at least that easy to use should be prevented (by law if necessary!) from being foisted on the unsuspecting public.
The technology of tomorrow must not only be useful, but immediately usable too. This is a challenge, not only for the manufacturers of computer equipment, but also for the information systems departments of large organisations. Somehow, the promise of high technology will have to be realise quickly, and brought to bear on the company's bottom line. Only a generalist - or a manager/generalist in charge of a team of specialists - will be capable of achieving this.
This business demand for this rare skill is already high and increasing. It's high time it was included in the high-school and business-school syllabus.
Today, you should be able to identify the generalists important to your business. can you?
You should ensure that you employ/identify/train a generalist in each of your key business functions. He should be available at any time to give you an immediate snapshot of the business status, challenges, opportunities, directions and implications - from a holistic perspective.
The best generalist is almost never the best manager. If the company culture allows it, they should work closely together but there are many companies where a 'conflict management' situation might produce better results.
Technology will provide the physical communication channels to disperse new-found knowledge and ideas in an instant, through advanced telecommunications facilities, satellites and fibre-optic links. All that is needed in addition is the skill and willingness to make it accessible in the public domain where appropriate, or, in the business environment, to the key decision makers.
In the future all companies will be able to afford all the technology they can use. In this environment the quality of their people will be the key factor that will differentiate them in the marketplace. While there will continue to be a need for as many specialists as we can find, a few key people will make all the difference, and most of these will be generalists. The expert 'culture' must be developed and maintained, but it will be the generalists that will make the difference on the bottom line.
Without a liberal dose of generalists we will not be able to deal effectively with our complex multi-faceted future.
A New View of Productivity
I have been using an electronic mail system for more than 10 years, every working day. Over the years the reliability of the system and networks has increased continually to the pint where I take 100% availability for granted. Any 'outage' is an event to be treated seriously.
During these many years the functions available to me, and their ease-of-use, have increased proportionally. I am now able to keep my diary electronically, access my electronic mail and telephone messages from anywhere in the country, keep an on-line file of all historic business records and search these at my leisure.
Most importantly though, I have found the electronic community of which I am a part growing by leaps and bounds every year. I South Africa alone my electronic colleagues number almost 1500, and internationally I can be in instant contact with more than 400 000 people and their more than 2000 mainframe computer systems. If I include the people and businesses to which I have access through the Beltel and Videotex links this electronic community numbers in the millions. I can search hundreds of business and technical data bases world-wide and extract information from them as required. All this is available on my desk-top at a cost a little more than twice the cost of a telephone! This is the reality of Marshall McLuhan's "Global Village" in action. This isn't a dream, it is today's reality.
As this community of users has grown in numbers and as they have all become more comfortable with, and proficient in, the use of the technology, I have noticed some interesting effect on workstyles.
Originally most of these electronic mail systems and networks were justified on the basis of increased productivity in communications, decision making etc. and of course to consolidate voice and data communication networks and reduce costs. Amazing productivity increases have undoubtedly been achieved, as have cost reductions in travel. The need for multiple layers of management in the corporate hierarchy to act as the communication system has been severely reduced. In some cases a whole level of management has been made redundant. Decision cycles have been reduced from days to hours or minutes as electronic approvals flash through the networks. It is not unrealistic to say that in selected areas the elapsed time of the decision cycle and some tasks has been reduced to totally insignificant times, effectively to zero!
The frightening realisation that one comes to is that in this environment no more productivity gains are possible! And really, if we are totally honest about it, our overall business processes have not seen the same improvement in productivity. WE have not increased our business volumes by an infinite amount. The reasons for this are obvious in retrospect. The task which we have automated through the use of electronic technology represent only a small part of the business cycle. If we have improved the efficiency of 10% of the process by 90% then the overall effect on the business is still less than 10%.
The 'secret' learnt only quite recently was that the time you save in one area of the business can almost never be used effectively in the same area of the business. An example of this might be a 90% saving in order administration. The only way to capitalise on this saving is by bringing in more orders to administer! You must increase your sales effectiveness or ire more sales people. Or move the 'excess' administrative resource into the sales function (if such a skill transfer were possible)!
Today's technology can have vast benefits in your organisation. The time taken on some tasks will effectively be reduced to zero and some tasks will be eliminated altogether. I is imperative to study the 'hidden' implications of these benefits, and search out the opportunities that are afforded outside of the function in which the technology is employed. Simply driving productivity up and up will 'unbalance' the organisation, and could kill it.
Productivity per se is not an issue for the future, balancing opportunities across the organisation to capitalise on radical change will be.
The way 'excellence' was a corporate slogan for the early 1980s, so 'simplicity' will be the key to the 1990s. We have a plethora of tools and technologies heading towards us in the next ten years that will allow us to complicate ourselves totally out of existence. You will be able to have the most perfect support systems I every aspect of your business.
But you have to ask yourself: Do we need them? Will they help me win more business? What will be the effects of increased productivity? Technology opens up vast new opportunities, but they must be managed and directed, and its implications must be understood and planned for.
The future will be more competitive than ever before. It will be a war for market share. You will have to re-examine concepts that you think you understand well right now. Concepts such as excellence, productivity, the management hierarchy and customer service, and it is imperative for the successful manager to understand how technology will help re-define these terms.
IT is never easy to recommend a solution so productive that it threatens to change the fundamentals of one's own job. Only with tremendous vision and courage will it be possible to see, and act, beyond today's preconceived views. These are some of the characteristics of a 'generalist'.
If, in the future, you are not at the forefront in your use of technology then you will not be a market leader. If you are not grooming a team of generalists to help you in your corporate drive 'In Search of Simplicity' then also, you will not exhibit the vision to be a market leader in the 1990s.
"Technology always advances faster (and at more tangents) than we would expect. Man's ability to use and integrate the technology always lags perceptibly behind even our most conservative expectations. Technology is predictable, society is far less so.
"The balance between technology and vision will be a critical success factor for the future.
"In this, the real future will find its equilibrium."
Wolfgang Grulke, 1987
Copyright FutureWorld 1987 All Rights Reserved
Also available: The annotated "In Search of Simplicity".
Click here to see how accurate these 1987 forecasts for 1997 proved to be!
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