For GM, the Internet is a vehicle, a veritable turbo-charged one, that helps us race toward becoming a fully globalized, digitally based business. The Internet is one of the important technologies that help us facilitate our global engineering collaboration.
Such globalization of business will help give rise to a broadband mobile Internet as ubiquitous as today’s landline phone network – rendering remaining geographical boundaries ever more meaningless. By definition, Internet ubiquity will mean connection points and access portals far more numerous than today, extending to our most mundane daily devices and tools, with many usable wherever we are. All these changes will help markedly blur, or even erase altogether, the traditional demarcation line between work and personal life. And that will likely force a complete redefinition of the traditional concept of the work day.
If people are able to so easily access the Internet from so many different types of devices in so many different places at all hours of the day, it will become far more difficult, if not wholly undesirable, to keep them from taking work home and keeping home from work. In short, your home, office, and vehicles will all seem blended together through the Internet. “Going on-line” will essentially be replaced by living on-line, all the time.
In the midst of this sea change, vexing workplace issues of privacy and security, already of paramount importance, are likely to become even more daunting – requiring a new range of technical solutions. And as the range of modalities for Internet communications and interaction expands, so will the workload for the human resources profession.
Among the Internet issues that HR professionals will likely have to tackle: how personal communications devices are funded, whether by the employee or the company, or perhaps a combination thereof; specification of data ownership policies; what are the rules for personal use vs. office use for user devices – which can be used at home and which can be used in the office – and what specific applications can be used on user devices. And that is likely just the tip of the virtual iceberg.
Perhaps the most sweeping long-term changes wrought by the Internet in the business arena may not be economic or even social in nature, but psychological. It will not just be our offices, work tools, and machines that will need to adjust to the rapidly evolving Internet, but also the very ways we conceive of ourselves as employers, employees, and co-workers.
Comprehensively planning now for these changes is an absolute imperative. Just leisurely thinking ahead will be grossly inadequate, and possibly very costly. The Internet is the most empowering mass communications and social-interaction technology yet invented. For that very reason, we can certainly harness the Internet of tomorrow to generate great benefits – but only if we invest the requisite time to shape its development today.
— Ralph Szygenda, CIO, General Motors