Business Management

More robots, more freelancers, more openness: Samsung's vision for the future

Businesses will need to radically rethink their structure and working processes in the next few years, according to Samsung.

The tech giant revealed its Open Economy concept at an event in London last night. The report paints a picture for how people and businesses could be transformed in the near future: largely autonomous organizations, run by a core executive team which outsources much of its non-automated work to freelancers.

“The Open Economy describes a fundamental shift in the way businesses are going to need to operate in the very, very near future, just a few years down the road,” said Nick Dawson, Global Director, Knox Strategy, Samsung Electronics.

“There's a great danger of being complacent about this. It's going to happen faster than you think, and you better be ready for it. Organizations that are serious are transforming themselves and being ready for the next shift in the way we do new business.”


The Open Economy

The idea brings together a range of current trends under one umbrella: Remote working, BYOD & mobility, the gig economy, consumerization of IT & shadow IT, automation & AI plus greater focus on collaboration with other companies and embracing startup culture no matter the size of the organization. All of which will require large amounts of change from organizations.

“Just like consumer brand loyalty has dissipated, internal corporate loyalty is going to dissipate as well, so how do we enable them?” said Dawson.

Up to 40% of workers will be self-employed by 2020, according to an Intuit report referenced by Samsung, and while some will come to your office for a short time, many will work remotely, handling your data on their own devices (which could well be VR/AR-based tech with all kinds of voice and gesture controls). These self-employed freelancers, according to Samsun will connect deeply within multiple organisations simultaneously, working hours that suit them.

“People want to go to an office, it's just the definition of ‘office’ which is changing,” said Dr. Marie Puybaraud, Global Head of Research, JLL Corporate.

“Home is where you are, the future office is where I am, where my team is at this very moment,” added Marcos Eguillor, Founder & Managing Partner, BinaryKnowledge. “We don't care if this space is our office, or our office for today at this very moment.

“Once we are at the front of our office we are forced to behave in a fashion that is 20 years old. Brands will need to transit from being the owners of the work dungeons to the providers of business technologies that allow a much bigger and more powerful gig workforce to do their best work.”

This shift in the way people work – driven by the new demands of ‘millennials’ – means HR has an opportunity to become a close ally of the CEO, as they will be key to understanding what the new generations wants and needs to be happy and productive in the workplace.

“It will take time to become the dominant model, but we will have teams of robots, teams of algorithms, and teams of millennials and 65 year-olds,” said Anthony Bruce, UK Human Resource Consultancy, PwC. “We're going to have these blended teams. But what does leadership look like, how do you manage a robot, there's some really important debates that are going to become more dominant.”

Given that the event was hosted by Samsung’s Knox unit, security was a continuous theme throughout the night. Dawson repeatedly warned that in this gig economy, where ‘digital freelancers’ will be constantly going in and out of your (and your competitors’) systems, companies will need ways to ensure the right workers get access to the right data at the right time while ensuring they stay locked out of areas of the business they have no reason to be in.

“In an Open Economy, your biggest competitors might be your closest collaborators: co-opetition is a new reality. It's absolutely critical, that if I'm the employer I need to protect my intellectual property, my assets, my network.”

“The problem with security is that it can be obtrusive, it can be oppressive, and if you implement it in the wrong way users are going to find a way around your security policies to use the tools to do the things they want to do.”


For everyone, or else

The panel acknowledged that many companies might find some of these ideas fanciful, but warned against ignoring them.

“The open economy concept, it is not just for a few industries that are close to millennials,” said Eguillor. “It is for everybody. You have you to at least consider it proactively if you want to stay in business.”

Dawson was equally stern on the future for companies who refuse to change.

“We can absolutely guarantee you, those of you who have this dinosaur-like thinking that "No, I know best," you're wrong. This is the way it's going to be, and you don't want to be left behind.”


The discussion about the concept of the Open Economy was livestreamed and is available to watch below:


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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect. Writes about all manner of tech from driverless cars, AI, and Green IT to Cloudy stuff, security, and IoT. Dislikes autoplay ads/videos and garbage written about 'milliennials'.  

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