The Future of Work-Life Innovation: The Role of Networked Technologies

February 8, 2012 - 0 Comments

A number of forces are changing how we work, live, and innovate: pervasive technologies, distributed ways of working, “space rather than place” as a work ethos, new methods and modes of work, access to shared services, open versus closed innovation, a new generation of workers, environmental concerns, and macro socioeconomic shifts.

Given a choice, people will demand freedom to work, live, and innovate in ways that meet their individual lifestyles, unfettered by place. Meanwhile, pressures to reduce costs and seek new approaches to innovation are causing many private and public organizations to rethink how work gets done.

The application of networked technologies, as highlighted in a recent Cisco® blog post on “new ways of working,” is creating a new paradigm we call Smart Work:  a results-oriented act of production performed independent of time and place. Networked technologies are creating choice, and enabling open and peer-driven approaches to innovation. Smart Work is results- oriented: it is often social and collaborative, and the result of a networked way of operating, with exchange, collaboration, and co-creation processes optimizing work and its output. Emerging technologies are also changing the nature of work, shifting society’s attitudes and the way we manage our personal lives.

Technology is constantly changing the balance between work and life. A more mobile, virtual community affects human movement patterns, impacting requirements for transportation, urban planning, building design, and spatial land management. For example, the changing nature of “place” in terms of where work is conducted, as highlighted in a Cisco blog post on co-working spaces, influences overall requirements for office space, creating opportunities to make better use of different spaces over time. Technology-enabled third-place working is also fueling innovation: from individual co-working spaces, to local networks of Smart Work Centers, to collaborative production “FabLabs,” and the resulting emergence of clusters of economic and social activity is accelerating discovery, experimentation, and scaling processes.

The Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) just launched a new report that looks at these trends, the technologies currently in use and how they are impacting our work and personal lives, and the processes of innovation. The report further discusses the most influential technologies currently enabling smarter ways of working and living, and those that will become pervasive in the next few years—cloud computing, connected devices, smart applications, collaboration platforms, flexible security-policy applications, and high-bandwidth networks. Such technologies are also driving innovation processes—empowering organizations and communities, and contributing to new premises and ethics that result in social, economic, and environmental outcomes otherwise unachievable.

An extended Cisco IBSG perspective on this topic is available for download: Work-Life Innovation: The Role of Networked Technologies

Further perspectives from Cisco IBSG on public sector and work-life innovation are provided at: and

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