LAFAYETTE, La., April 22, 2010 - The growth of the internet-connected workplace will force political leaders to re-think the policies needed to foster economic growth, argued Cisco Systems researcher Norman Jacknis Wednesday.
"Mayors traditionally want big companies to move to their cities to generate jobs. But the reality is, as we’ve seen, is that it’s extremely difficult for companies to move jobs. I’m a good example, I live 3,000 miles away from San Jose. I live the same place as I did before," Jacknis said during a presentation at FiberFete, a conference about the relationship between municipalities and high-speed fiber-to-the-home internet networks.
"In the past companies supplied the glue that allowed folks and organizations to work together," Jacknis said. "The internet, however, has reduced the cost of working together. The company has been replaced by what the internet can now provide. And indeed, big companies aren’t going to look like a big monolithic structure."
Instead, individuals are going to increasingly work in smaller groups, and will increasingly be contractors rather than full-time employees, he said.
"In a sense it enables them to become the primary unit of economic activity, and this means that more individuals will have more of a choice about where they live ... looking at it this way, a region’s wealth will be increasingly measured by the sum of the wealth of its individual residents, and not as much by the sales of businesses that happen to have a local address on its headquarters."
While he noted that the transition is already underway, it'll really accelerate when video-conferencing takes off as a result of better bandwidth capacity.
He predicts that the United States will have a world of ubiquitous, high quality broadband by 2030, which will free up knowledge-economy workers to work anywhere they want.
Editor's Note: Travel and accomodations for this series of stories was provided by the organizers of FiberFête.