MBA Research

Trend #24: Ongoing Change in Organizational Models Prompted by Adoption of Cloud Computing, Software Integration, and Alternative Staffing Models

Business Trend

Our trend for July is a hot topic with business leaders: the ongoing change in organizational models prompted by adoption of cloud computing, software integration, and alternative staffing models.  Businesses have continued to focus on lean operations that took center stage during the 2007/2008 recession. During that time, staff were downsized, and the remaining employees were asked to do more with less.  Companies also sought out opportunities to automate manual processes and to reduce costs through the use of contracted or outsourced services. Functions and specializations previously immune to staff reductions and alternative sourcing (e.g., accounting, human resources) were also affected.

Workplace Implications

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) and similar cloud computing arrangements are enabling small- to medium-sized businesses to automate various functions and activities. By capitalizing on advancements in technology, businesses of all sizes are able to replace their legacy departmental databases with company-wide software packages that provide holistic views of business operations in less time and with fewer manual resources.  This integration has reduced data-entry redundancy and improved data accuracy. Also, it has reduced the need for what were traditionally viewed as clerical functions.

As a result, employees’ job responsibilities have changed. Employees are expected to spend more time in analyzing and interpreting information. They are expected to extract value from the information and provide insights to management on how to improve the business performance.

Cloud computing technology has also expanded the pool of talent available to businesses. Geographic location is becoming less and less a barrier as the cost of virtualization decreases and the effectiveness of virtual communication channels improves. Current employees and job seekers are no longer competing with the local labor market. Rather, they are competing with individuals around the world.

Concurrently, the educational market is undergoing its own innovation cycle. Open course platforms have been used to provide access to world class college-level courses and certificates to individuals anywhere in the world with access to Wi-Fi networks. Through the use of technology, people can upgrade their existing skills or acquire new skills at a fraction of the cost of a traditional college education.

Classroom Implications

Students need to develop the skill sets that will enable them to compete in a virtual, global workforce. They must be able to analyze and interpret data, translate data into meaningful insights and recommendations, and communicate their observations clearly and concisely. They need to develop deep competencies in their chosen area of specialization to differentiate themselves in a crowded market. Students need to be taught how to learn and how to develop a habit of continual learning. They need to know that businesses expect them to assume responsibility for their own learning.