Back to life, back to reality. The world may return to some semblance of what it looked like before the pandemic, but many realities have changed irrevocably – how businesses operate being one of them. Many aspects of value delivery are now entirely independent from location and time. People work together in different ways, in different setups, increasingly at the very edges of what used to be considered the “core organization.” Consumers and employees expect integrated experiences, with their latest online endeavors fresh in mind. It requires a new level of cross-organization, cross-sector partnering to meet these expectations. Distribution is the leading design principle, together with mesh-style, loosely coupled collaboration. And with physical and digital worlds fusing, it’s no longer clear where the technology network ends, and the business network begins. Oh, it’s back to life. But not as we know it.

As employees transitioned from office spaces to their homes, organizations have seen unprecedented changes in value creation and delivery, critically without compromising on productivity. The transformation is only not limited to the change in physical location but is also evident in how the workforce is compiled. Permanent employee teams are increasingly augmented by the “gig economy,” as enterprises look for more adaptive, more resilient sourcing models. Virtual workplaces have necessitated the advent of new productivity tools and techniques, bolstering the team as the default entry into the workday. An always connected – yet asynchronous – collaborative style of

working is breaking barriers of geography and time zones, redefining what we call “just another day at the office” now and in the future.

Customer demand for seamless experiences across services has given rise to meshed, cross-industry business models. It introduces an era of co-opetition, as organizations reach beyond the boundaries of their own industry to develop new value propositions with ecosystem partners, startups – and yes, even competitors. It’s also by far the best way to achieve joint targets for sustainability and areas of social good.

The convergence of the physical and virtual worlds leads to a new, distributed online economy, powered by trust. Digitization of assets is spreading, from Financial

Services to other sectors as well. Distributed ledger technology now finds use in areas as diverse as art, retail, real estate, and the upcoming Metaverse. This new economy certainly looks decentralized, with autonomy enabled via peer-to-peer transactions. At the very foundation of it all are the ever-evolving technologies, such as IoT and AI, enabled by ubiquitous (5G) connectivity. The sheer volume and speed of connections and data demand more intelligence and actionability at the very edges of business and IT. That way, technology becomes business, business becomes technology. Sound familiar?

Sudhir Pai Expert in Residence

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