Published on January 15, 2010
When Marshall McLuhan coined the term "The Global Village" in the early 1960s he couldn't have known just how accurate a description that would be for the business world of 2010. Whether you're the chief executive of a large multinational or a street vendor, the ebbs and flows of the global market will affect you sooner or later. And as Thailand's business community picks itself up from the latest global recession, it may occur to many managers that it is probably time for a radical re-think about the nature of managing in today's marketplace.
In particular, there is now an unprecedented change going on in the way that business operates across the globe. The business leaders of tomorrow will see a radical change in the demographic characteristics of the workforce they manage. In fact, they may never actually meet many members of that workforce - at least, not in a physical sense.
The business environment of the future will be one populated by virtual individuals and virtual teams, scattered across the world, and what that implies for business managers is that they need to raise their competence levels in a variety of new skills, including how to manage in a virtual world - or what could be called managing "virtuality" - if they want to manage people successfully.
The new generation of employees entering the job market is tech-savvy in a way that previous ones weren't, and they're bringing with them a different level of expertise, along with an expectation of what a modern working environment should look like.
What all that means is that work skills and work habits are changing, and while it may not exactly mean "out with the old and in with the new" for everyone, it certainly means that smart businesses, and smart business managers, are learning from the new in order to remain successful and relevant.
This new breed of managers will need to be capable of giving leadership in the use of new technologies, including mobile devices, video conferencing and social-media tools such as Twitter and Facebook.
In North America, many businesses are exploring these tools seriously from a corporate perspective. For instance, Motorola recently deployed a Twitter-like technology to encourage collaboration, information exchange and the creation of communities. Employees can access it via their desktops, the Web, their mobiles or e-mail. Already, more than 7,000 are using it. This use in the business place of what was previously considered personal technology will become the norm before long.
It seems like its time for Thai companies to start thinking along these same lines if they want to stay competitive.
In the next article in this series, I'll be looking further into the changing role of the manager.
NIALL SINCLAIR is director of knowledge management at Bangkok University's Institute for Knowledge and Innovation. He is also founder and managing director of Nterprise Consulting in Ottawa. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.