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People Cloud: The Future of Social Media “A White Paper Exploring the Social Network of the Future”


The People Cloud Most experts agree that companies in the future will have two key assets to manage – their technological infrastructure and their human capital. Moving forward, there is an increasing overlap between the two. The Cloud is a set of technologies that enables the sharing, storage, and delivery of computing services over the Internet in real-time, allowing end users instant access to data and application from any device with Internet access. In the future, open-source talent sharing will be so common that there will be, in effect, a “People Cloud” where work is shared, collaboration across the globe is instantaneous, and “cloud” employees work for multiple enterprises on a variety of projects simultaneously. We are quickly entering an age where access to assets will trump ownership. In fact, soon traditional employment may be seen as an Industrial Age relic.

“I see the world as networks…The Internet itself is a network and in that sense it is almost spiritual. You see this great unity of life. It’s kind of amazing, actually. We are quickly becoming a global-neural network. The power of a correct idea in this internet-connected age spreads so quickly that scale can happen on a never before pace” (Dare to Imagine). Enabling the creation of the People Cloud is the broad adoption of social technology. Both adults (72%) and teens (81%) in the U.S. actively use social media. People spend anywhere from a half-hour to three hours a day on these platforms. More than 30 billion pieces of content are shared each month on Facebook alone and the half-life of content on Facebook and Twitter is just three hours. In three to four years, 5 billion people are expected to use some sort of social media tool, revolutionizing the way we link and communicate. “Social media has become the most prevalent way of communication around the world…[businesses and consumers are headed toward a] future place [that] is undoubtedly ruled by digital communications” (Urban Times).


Adoption of social media tools among corporate organizations has been mixed as companies struggle to measure the impact of these new tools using traditional means. However, firms that discover how to unleash the power of social media through new metrics are likely be part of its continued growth in the coming years. “While social media is the least utilized of all communication methods CEOs use today, it stands to become the number two organizational engagement method within the next five years, a close second to face-to-face interactions” (CEO Study). Within other HR functions, such as recruitment, the growth of social media is not surprising given broader shifts in society. Digital dating, for example, is now the second most common way that couples meet. “As the number of Internet connections continues to grow, so will our opportunity to foster creativity and reinvent the very nature of work” (Cisco Blog). The essence of the People Cloud is rooted in the emerging pattern of work becoming more social. Even prior to the introduction of connective technology, the best and brightest talent understood the power of collaboration. Carnegie Mellon, for instance, conducted a 1985 study at Bell Labs to explore the characteristics of their top performers, finding that their superstars proactively networked before it was even required of them, harnessing those connections at critical junctures. The shift to a knowledge economy and the broader push in technology creates an increased imperative for firms to broaden their networks. To be successful in the social future, firms must figure out how to leverage the crowd. Research suggests that our brains struggle to be analytical and social simultaneously. If we continue to focus only on data and metrics, we will create leaders, organizations and processes that will not support the development of a social ecosystem and, as a result, will not be prepared for the challenges of the socially connected 21st century. As boundaries between internal and external social networks continue to blur, businesses have begun to embrace the wisdom of crowds to execute their business strategies. The signals pointing to this crowd—driven People Cloud future include (C.L.O.U.D.):  A more COLLABORATIVE society  Stronger LINKS between individuals and groups  A shift to an OPEN environment  The UBIQUITOUS nature of mobile and sentient technology and  The DISRUPTIVE impact of these new organizational models “Within perhaps one generation and certainly no more than two, the vast majority of value created by human beings will almost certainly take place . . . through the volunteered efforts of people who are electronically connected with others, united by common objectives, but only indirectly motivated by economic incentives” (LinkedIn).



Collaboration Gone are the days of siloed networks, organizations, departments, economies, and countries. In today’s global and connected world, success stems from entities working together, using the power of the many to thrive. “Most of today's businesses won't be around in 2020 -- 71% of them will fail within 10 years, according to Statistic Brain. To survive, all businesses will need to be highly agile and collaborative; in other words, they will all need to be social” (InformationWeek). Spawned by the confluence of the economic crisis, environmental concerns, and the maturation of the social web, we see a movement toward a more collaborative marketplace – the sharing economy. It is redefining consumption across industries. “Governments and economies struggle to find a clear path, while the people can turn to each other to be self-sufficient…[people] get what they want from each other – not big corporations” (Crowd Companies). New business models enable the sharing of cars, bikes, couches, apartments, tools, meals, and even skills. From the car-rental service ZipCar to couch-sharing sites like Airbnb and the cloud services available on Amazon, there is just-in-time access to the outputs that goods and services provide, making ownership a fading model. The same collaborative approaches can apply to human capital. “The convergence of the cloud, social and mobile in emerging enterprise technologies is revolutionising how businesses share and collaborate, and radically flattening them in the process… We finally have the technology to connect one another, to leverage the knowledge and expertise of those next to us and far away, and to work with little friction” (BBC). The top-down, command and control organization popular during the Industrial Age is giving way to a more “flattened” structure where collaboration is borderless. “Social media is actually contributing to the demise of the large organization… It's the 21st century version of the water cooler. It's how we get our news, keep up with friends and colleagues, make our social arrangements, establish our identities and view the world” (CNN). In fact, Fast Company surveyed 64,000 people and 84% believe their career success is highly dependent on their ability to collaborate and “share” with one another. To facilitate this shift, companies are leveraging new platforms and methods to foster internal collaboration.


With increased awareness around its benefits, organizations are attempting to intentionally engineer collaboration. Researchers at the University of Michigan are studying how to increase serendipitous interactions in the workplace because these typically passive moments create important opportunities for information transfer. Scientists are seeking to understand how employees occupy buildings in order to bring typically disparate people and departments together. “We found that an increase of 100 feet in path overlap – so if the paths I walk every day overlap with yours by 200 feet rather than 100 – all things being equal, you and I are somewhere around 17 percent more likely in our models to form a new collaboration” (IEEE). Similarly, Bank of America conducted a study to analyze the importance of face-time in its call centers. Through the use of wearable sensors, they discovered that their employees were more productive when they belonged to teams and could actively interact with their co-workers. As a result, Bank of America purposely scheduled its employees to take group breaks, causing productivity to increase by 10%. The growing awareness of the need for collaboration has many companies exploring how they can better leverage social media. While many are still wary of allowing employees to access popular social networking sites due to concerns around IP and company regulations, some are solving this riddle by creating their own, internal social collaboration tools. “By 2016, 50% of large organizations will have internal Facebooklike networks and 30% of these will be considered as essential as email and telephone are today” (Mashable). As the lines between our physical and digital worlds become increasingly blurred, so does our ability to seamlessly collaborate across both of these domains. Integrating haptic technology in clothing, for example, allows wearers of the T.Jacket to feel the physical manifestation of virtual hugs from their friends across cyberspace. The increased popularity of other social products like Nike Fuel Band is creating micro communities for people of like passions to connect, encourage one another, and work toward common goals. Individuals are also becoming more comfortable interacting and sharing knowledge in video chats. Recently, these informal webcam channels got a boost when Google debuted Google Helpouts, which allows people to more formally share their skills and services with others in exchange for money. Clearly, physical proximity is diminishing as a factor in collaboration and work. The ever-growing popularity of gaming adds another interesting layer to the expanding social nexus of work. “The best experiences forged through gaming are unforgettable moments in people’s lives, images that remain embedded in our identity and often correlate closely with the creation of social bonds and deep-seated loyalties” (Future Conscience). Companies have already discovered the power of gaming psychology as a way to impact consumer behavior, and now some firms are experimenting with virtual awards (like peer


badges) to manage employee performance. As game research within companies matures and we move beyond the superficial application of these tools, organizations will find success by using not only “points” to incent positive behavior (e.g. successful innovation development) but also more tangible compensation. “By 2020, employees will rely on continually available, real-time performance feedback using gamification concepts such as badge incentives rather than just the dreaded annual performance review” (Information Week). Businesses are using gaming techniques as a tool in recruitment and screening. Companies are even playfully hiding their “we’re hiring” ads in the source code so only qualified candidates can apply for the position. “Not only can [gamification] help employees to engage with positive behaviors, but can actually get them addicted to habits of excellence” (Forbes). Taking the gamification trend to a new level, neuro-gaming, or using the mind to operate and control games and play, opens the door to new collaboration and interaction opportunities. Samsung is already researching how people can use their thoughts to control mobile devices, specifically targeting people with impairments to help them more effectively connect with the world. The Muse headband, for instance, studies an individual’s brain waves in order to provide feedback on how to improve one’s lifestyle. Taking this one step further, scientists are exploring what the sharing of brain waves looks like between human beings. Researchers at the University of Washington have already made human-to-human brain interface a reality. Currently, they have figured out how one subject can play a computer game with his mind and instantaneously transmit it across campus where another subject carries out the command. They are one step closer to accomplishing mind control, an idea that was once considered to be relegated to science fiction. In 30 to 40 years, these researchers believe neuro-collaboration will be completely plausible. Someone on the ground may be able to help an inexperienced passenger land a plane during an emergency situation. Or, professionals in different occupations across the globe can quickly work together on a complex project. All of our social and technological advancements are pointing us toward a world of collaboration in every domain. “The Internet was a way to connect computers, and now it can be the way to connect brains…The next step is having a more equitable twoway conversation directly between the two brains” (BBC).



Linked “Online culture is the culture” ( Digital natives were born into a “linked” network, causing all facets of their lives to be influenced by social media. There are more than 362 million digital natives across the globe who will ultimately impact the nature and definition of work due to their heightened relationship with technology and desire for connected and collaborative environments. They make no distinction between their physical and virtual worlds because, for them, the two are interwoven. “Young people are more likely to mediate identity through the perpetual feedback loop of social media and online personae…At a moment of decision, this immediate feedback offers a way to mediate more than simply a purchase, one’s sense of self within a community of peers is also at stake” (Fast Company). Social media platforms contribute to the creation of new as well as the management of existing identities in both the physical and digital domains. For example, a recent Stanford study shows that identities women create in video games impact how they perceive themselves in the physical world. More specifically, personifying a sexualized avatar in a game made women feel objectified offline. “It [gaming] used to be passive and you watched the characters. You now enter the media and become the protagonist. You become the characters” (Stanford). Another example can be seen in a boys’ homeless shelter in New Delhi, India that is home to many youth who have experienced a life of violence, fear and hunger. The shelter provides computer classes where the boys have been exposed to social networking sites. Many have opened two Facebook accounts – one represents who they are today and the other personifies who they aspire to become. They create fake personas in order to connect with people across the globe who mirror the identity they are seeking. It allows them to escape the barriers of their small community and dream of other opportunities. In essence, their perceived anonymity online helps them create their aspirational futures. “Facebook is a lifeline to a fiercely imagined future” (The Globe and Mail). The desire to “manage” online personas and keep them separate from our physical beings is common but is nonetheless pointless. Believing that only the physical world is fully “real” while the online environment is not is the equivalent to the 17th century philosophers who thought the mind was separate from the body. People may act as if their physical and virtual worlds are on separate planes, but subconsciously the mind sees no difference. As work environments become increasingly meshed between on-site and on-line, new hybrid organizational cultures will form that represent this reality. “What is more important today than ever before, is not just technology as the enabler, but how technology relates to the


humanity of the organization, to the culture of the organization. I think social media is just one aspect of that. But on a deeper level technology is becoming enmeshed in the humanity in the organization, which was never the case before… Technology doesn’t just help create the social enterprise. At its best it enables people to be themselves, to be more human, in how they work with each other and engage with customers and the broader ecosystem around them” (Ross Dawson Blog). While Digital Natives may be touted as the group most comfortable adopting virtual technology, they are not alone in turning to social networking. The ability to connect through social media is enabling people from all walks of life to form bonds around common passions, both professional and personal. In fact, the transformational shift in society and business along with the convergence of emerging technology, social change, and entirely new landscapes of complexity are causing the well-defined notion of the socio-historical generation to begin to fade. These traditional generations are giving way to passion-oriented cohorts or the concept of GenCohort. While there are still Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, GenX, and GenY, as well as new generations emerging, the lines are increasingly blurring in the face of what many are now recognizing as a new stage in human development. In this new world where resilience and flexibility are king, the meshing of social technology and collaborative communities is not only allowing open-source ideas and grass-roots initiatives to thrive, but is rallying individuals from across the generations to activities of like-passions. An example of this shift to GenCohort is Generation Flux, a term coined by Fast Company. Rather than a common birth year, GenFlux shares characteristics like resiliency, adaptability, collaboration, and the desire for passionspecific career paths. “This is less a demographic designation than a psychographic one: What defines GenFlux is a mind-set that embraces instability that tolerates--and even enjoys--recalibrating careers, business models, and assumptions. Not everyone will join Generation Flux, but to be successful, businesses and individuals will have to work at it” (Fast Company). However, the same ability to “link” around common interests has also led to an interesting counter trend. There is a group of social networking sites that have parameters for access, such as social stature, only allowing individuals with those desired characteristics to join the social platform. ASmallWorld, for instance, is an invite only international network of influential people who are connected by a maximum of only three degrees of separation. Even apps are being used to essentially silo people from certain groups of individuals. Ghetto Tracker, now renamed to Good Part of Town, helps wealthy people avoid lower socio-economic and crime ridden areas. Our “linked” world has also impacted learning and education. Massively open online courses (MOOCs) have already dramatically changed and democratized learning (i.e. Khan Academy), creating the “flipped classroom.” The pace of change is leading many organizations to realize that learning will need to reach out to include every level of employee, calling for a reinvention of the corporate university. Firms will likely turn to MOOCs to ensure all employees learn how to


be adaptable team players, subject matter experts, and potential sources of innovation. Corporations using these new learning strategies have already seen lucrative results, with improvements in employee performance and reduced training costs. The upside potential of these new learning platforms which leverage the People Cloud could not come soon enough. The accelerating pace of change and increasing accessibility of information is making most traditional degree and certification programs out-dated. In fact, for many disciplines, half of the information students learn as freshmen is obsolete by the time they reach their senior year. The declining value of a formal education coupled with the growing popularity of social media has shifted the emphasis from “what you know” to “who you know.” Evaluating an individual’s online influence via this “reputation currency” has increasingly become a primary way to recruit and select candidates. This new currency is fueling the open, sharing economy but its impact is being felt in traditional markets as well. “78% of executive recruiters routinely use search engines to learn more about candidates, and 35% have eliminated candidates based on the information they found” ( Recognizing increased attention on reputation and the diminished prestige of degrees, applicants are being innovative in the way they position themselves to recruiters on social networks. Instead of simply presenting a paper resume, people and organizations are taking a transmedia approach, utilizing multiple platforms to stand out from their competitors. For instance, Philippe Dubost created an Amazon page resume where he was the product for sale, providing his dimensions and ratings. Taking this idea a step further, people are creating interactive resumes that showcase content and skill level. These new resumes actively demonstrate to organizations that candidates are qualified beyond degree and certification parameters. Robby Leonardi made an interactive resume that resembled the video game Super Mario Bros. The resume viewer becomes immersed in Robby’s life as “Player 1” and is guided through his various skills and achievements in a game-like format. It is engaging and shows his coding skills, which would be hard to capture in a traditional interview. Candidates are using more than just multimedia gimmicks to garner the attention of recruiters; they are actually creating personal brands. The shift from a tangible to an intangible-based economic system (manufacturing to knowledge) has increased the importance and popularity of personal branding while contributing to a holistic workforce. “Your Personal Brand is like your Trademark. When you live your Personal Brand, you are being true to yourself. It contributes to authentic leadership because you're acting in a way that's consistent with your vision of who you are … both professionally and personally” (Huffington Post). How far personal branding could go in the future is uncertain; however, there is at least one instance of an individual who has successfully created a company in which investors hold and trade shares of him. As the founder of KMikeyM, Mike Merrill runs a virtual stock market that deals exclusively in shares of himself. Investors get to vote on everything from whether he should have a vasectomy to the brands he wears. Clearly this is an extreme version of personal branding; however, it demonstrates how shifting societal norms coupled with crowd-enabling technology and social media identities are blurring the lines between individual and entity.



Ultimately, our “linked” social networks place greater power in the hands of the individual. More than ever before applicants have the ability to test whether or not potential organizations are good matches for them. For example, the Pop Up Agency was created to offer an alternative internship, challenging traditional ways of work by spending short periods of time with companies to work on specific projects. Likewise, programs such as the Experience Institute are accepting students that want to learn through stints with various organizations and ultimately create and customize their education. “Rather than accepting one of several job offers, I’ve decided to explore how experiential education can become a more prevalent and highly regarded route for students” (GOOD). The customization of these experiences helps candidates guarantee that they are pursuing the right organization for them. Before entering, they want to have an authentic look into the company culture. We already see consumers demanding transparency in products they purchase (i.e. using an app to scan product origins in your shopping cart), so it is reasonable that this also occurs in the talent space. Some companies offer outsiders an open look into their organization’s life. In fact, Tagboard lets companies create accounts for their employees to post pictures and updates throughout their actual workday, showcasing a “day in the life.” TheFIT website served as a “matchmaking” site for employers and employees, exploring the cultural fit between the parties through an assessment-based approach.



Open Open-sourced networks unleash creativity, solve big world problems, uncover new ideas and opportunities, and bring human capital together. The shift from closed to open systems has both given rise to and been strengthened by the Maker Movement (or DIY Movement). In this system, value is derived through participation and the driving force is innovation. People no longer seek cookie-cutter products, experiences or careers. Instead, individuals are drawn to opportunities that allow them to leave their unique fingerprint, whether it is in their personal or professional pursuits. A great example of the power of the maker movement can be seen in the shift of cities becoming laboratories for new ideas and creative ways of reframing old systems. “Today, consumers want to participate in forming and promoting their concepts in a very personal way, with themselves in the spotlight. They want to nurture and develop their own individual creative visions. And share them on a world stage via social media” (Fortune). Technology clearly has enabled the acceleration of the Maker Movement, reframing traditional organizational and consumer frameworks. Companies are leveraging the power of the crowd by utilizing unpaid, passionate people who simply want to help solve internal issues that the company is facing (i.e. McAfee Maniacs). Organizations are crowd sourcing their problems to an unknown group of solvers, creating an open call for solutions. For instance, scientists were perplexed for 10 years on how to unlock the structure of an AIDS-related enzyme. However, after creating a game called Foldit where gamers could earn points by creating the best structures, the solution was found in just 10 days, 365 times faster than the work produced by the scientists. Crowd sourcing can also be used to commercialize companies’ unused intellectual property. For example, instead of letting IP sit in a “vault,” Samsung has partnered with the crowd-sourcing firm Marblar. The founder of the website believes it’s time to open up unused IP to allow for new opportunities. Approximately 14,000 people in the Marblar community will be satisfied just seeing their suggestions become actual products. “There’s also a strong sense that the site might serve as a recruitment opportunity, with those making the most useful suggestions essentially advertising their entrepreneurial instincts to Samsung” (Nature News Blog). Sourcing ideas from the crowd does not have to occur outside of organizational walls. Often, businesses neglect their own internal “crowd” or talent. Successful organizations understand how to leverage talent across departments in order to solve problems and seize opportunities. The common complaint of the “talent shortage” can often be addressed by constructing creative ways to more efficiently access existing internal resources.


“There's a lot of talent in an organization that is just untapped. If you ask employees for suggestions on how to solve a problem, they usually will. We are now listening to our employees differently” (Human Resource Executive). Some firms are mimicking crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter to surface great ideas and inspire employees. For example, IBM used enterprise crowdfunding to promote employee engagement and increase internal innovation and collaboration. “The Kickstarter model should be a part of the innovation infrastructure of every global enterprise that takes intrapreneurial creativity and coherent corporate culture seriously” (Harvard Business Review). Open systems allow the crowd to surpass corporations. Companies will no longer be able to hide behind their intellectual property firewalls attempting to litigate all potential threats. The music industry, for example, has experienced backlash regarding the strict laws it is trying to implement around digital ownership. Acknowledging the movement toward openness, some companies are creating business models where all of their intellectual property is accessible to the public, including employee salaries. The shift from closed to open systems and eased access to others through the Internet has begun to impact currency models, with new, digital currencies going mainstream. For instance, Bitcoin, a virtual currency used online as an alternative to traditional money, is not currently backed by any government entity. Rather, people have come together to establish its value and uses. In Pensacola, Florida a homeless man has his own laptop and accesses free Wi-Fi at a local park. Instead of panhandling, he watches YouTube videos for a service called BitcoinGet that seeks to drive Internet traffic and, in exchange, he receives Bitcoins. “And when he does odd jobs for people around Pensacola – here in the physical world – he still gets paid in Bitcoin, just because it’s easier and safer. He doesn’t have to worry as much about getting robbed” (Wired). Like traditional currency, Bitcoin is also used for less constructive purposes. The website Silk Road had over 900,000 users and was just shut down because people were buying and selling drugs with the alternative currency. “The Silk Road website has emerged as part of a darker side to the use of digital currencies” (Telegraph). The additional channels using Bitcoins has led to its transition from the virtual to the physical space. The first Bitcoin ATM will appear in Canada, exchanging cash for Bitcoins and vice versa. The rise of digital currency further demonstrates the convergence of our physical and virtual worlds as well as how a movement toward a more open world allows people to act as creators.



Ubiquitous “We won't just be connected to the network. We'll be the network” (Gigaom). As social media and collaboration expand, the People Cloud can be found in every discipline and domain. Technology is seamlessly linking the animate and inanimate worlds (Internet of Things), and giving rise to the proliferation of personal computing and sensors known as wearables. “This revolution isn’t just about connecting clever gadgets and digital devices to the internet; it’s about connecting people to untold opportunities” (Gigaom). This smart technology is accelerating the quantified self movement, where various measurements are taken and tracked on technological devices that can then share the data through social networks. For example, wearable technology is already greatly impacting the health industry, giving doctors real-time access to patient information and allowing surgeons to retrieve crucial information during medical procedures through a simple voice command on their Google Glasses. “We create more data that companies can and will use to evaluate our worthiness – or lack thereof – for their products, services, and opportunities” (Pando Daily). Ultimately, all of the information that we can now collect contributes to a pool of big data that allows others (even employers) to know more about each individual than they know about themselves. The People Cloud can create a massive pool of talent which can cause recruiters to be overrun with applicants. To respond to this, companies are harnessing the power of big data to assess potential candidates. Access to this data can lead to selective recruiting, with firms evaluating employees’ performance, productivity, risk level (i.e. overheating), and eligibility for certain benefits based on health conditions. As a response, firms like Corp are creating measures to analyze whether or not candidates’ personalities match the company they are applying for. “You have this enormous pool of people that’s being missed because of the way the entire industry goes after the same kinds of people, asking, did you go to Stanford, did you work at this company…You miss what you’re looking for, which is – what is this person going to bring to the table” (Bloomberg). The ubiquity of the People Cloud makes global talent accessible. By 2020, half of the global talent pool will be available to companies located anywhere in the world. “For perhaps the first time ever, industrious citizens in almost every nation can be your competitor or business partner” (Inc).


A key element driving the globalized talent landscape is Internet accessibility. Today 39% of the world’s population, or over 2.7 billion people, are on-line with the number projected to double to about 4.0 billion by the year 2020. Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt believes these estimates are understated and has gone on record with the bold claim that “everyone on Earth” will be connected by the end of the decade. Fueling the exponential trajectory of Internet adoption is the fact that countries are recognizing the opportunity pervasive and ubiquitous Internet brings to their people. Places like France and Finland have declared that access to the Internet should be a basic human right and have amended their constitutions to reflect this shift. With abundant access to the Internet, we can share knowledge, innovations, experiences, human capital, and more on a global scale. “As the poor gain access to the Internet through smartphones and tablets and the middle-class gets better connectivity, the country will witness nothing less than a revolution in commerce, education and social values… Technology will make it possible for any poor child to gain the same knowledge as the privileged anywhere in India and across the world” (LinkedIn). To remain competitive, companies will need to cast wider nets and employees must develop the ability to work in diverse cultural environments. This trend is already apparent in the U.S. and Europe with multi-nationals expanding their reach with extensive expat strategies. “It seems much of that shift to mobile work has already happened in developed countries, however now we are seeing literally hundreds of millions people join the world of connected work, instantly giving them access to employers around the world” (Ross Dawson Blog). Work in the People Cloud can be done anywhere at any time. The rise in freelance workers (17 million Americans) validates that more people will work in non-traditional workspaces, such as their homes or in a co-working space, ultimately saving companies money. Over time, ubiquitous computing through networked chips embedded into everything around us means that the mobile phone, and eventually goggles and active contact lenses, will be the gateway to virtual work spaces and collaborative projects. One blink and we can be transported right into the heart of our "offices" (BBC News). Some view the ability to work at various times and locations as a means to creating balance in their professional and personal lives. However, the opposite may also occur. In a 2012 Good Technology study, 80% of participants continued working after leaving the office, 69% could not go to bed until they checked their work inbox a final time, and 38% checked their work e-mails while eating dinner. With continuous access to the Internet, some employees are “overworking” which can lead to burnout. The advancement in computing power and mobile connectivity is also further enabling the combination of people and technology. Currently, there are more than 1.1 billion people who own smartphones or tablets. In fact, by the end of 2013 mobile-connected devices will surpass


the number of people on the planet and by 2017 there will be close to “1.4 mobile devices per person.” It is expected for the Internet to be hosted on 5 billion devices by 2020. This will change future work teams to include people AND sentient technology – redefining who and what are included as “talent.” The world will soon have humans and machines working together to create, think and produce. We already see robots increasingly occupying jobs that once were fulfilled only by humans due to their expanded computing power and “needle-in-ahaystack” problem solving skills. IBM’s sentient technology Watson already has the capability to diagnose cancer better than human doctors. Today’s robots not only easily complete routine tasks but they are also being tapped to fill more personal, customer-facing roles. “Society as a whole will have to grapple with the idea of technology replacing service jobs” (Economist). In order to stay competitive, humans will need to utilize their emotional/social intelligence, skills that robots do not currently possess. “Judgment, emotion, and creativity…those unquantifiables are still hard to stimulate, even for Siri” (Fast Company). In some cases, advanced technology is increasingly being used to supplement rather than replace traditional teams. For example, BMW has taken a huge step toward revolutionizing the role of robots in automotive manufacturing by having a handful of robots work side-by-side with human workers at its plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina. In addition, more robots are being created to resemble human beings in order to make human and robot collaboration a more natural interaction.



Disruptive “We are in the middle of this great disruption. We are still at the incunabula, the infant stage of the great internet upheaval” (BBC). Disruptive landscapes challenges organizations and people to gain new perspectives and see opportunity within problems and risks. We have entered a new era of disruptive opportunity, which is fueled by our increasingly connected world and the convergence of broad trends. The disruptive effects of the People Cloud are apparent in numerous ways. “The Internet was disruptive as a connected infrastructure, but it became explosive when it got social” (HBR Blogs). Clearly, the rising power and influence of digital communication tools is a common factor in world protests, acting as a powerful accelerator that can quickly rally the masses. This is demonstrated by recent global uprisings in the Middle East and beyond. Interestingly, Fast Company considered the Occupy Movement the world’s seventh most innovative company in 2012, which shows how power has shifted to the crowd in an increasingly intangible, knowledgebased and decentralized economy. People have the unprecedented ability to join ranks to create a collective intelligence, also known as the metaphoric global brain. “We can mobilize crowds faster and more effectively than in the past, and have the same impact, if not more” (Venture Beat). Social media is also influencing smaller-scale activism with somewhat less disruptive impacts. One example is how social connections can determine creditworthiness. Some institutions believe that connections are representative of a person’s character and overall responsibility. “Some leading financial institutions have found that social connections can be a good indicator of a person’s creditworthiness…It turns out that humans are really good at knowing who is trustworthy and reliable in their community” (CNN Money). A series of current legal cases from across the globe demonstrate that "liking" something on social media can also have significant implications. For instance, leaving comments on Facebook about incidents like Sandy Hook has resulted in criminal prosecution. The concerns for employers grow each day as new tools are developed for people to share and collaborate: “Employers who are just concerned about what their employees are just doing on Facebook are missing the bigger picture of how smartphones are infiltrating the workplace. Plugging in terms like “hatework” or “bored” or “work” into a Vine search box, … results in a number of clips showing employees doing things that would make their bosses cringe” (The Wall Street Journal). The People Cloud allows for creative and transformational disruption from people anywhere in the world. A traditional form of disruption, hacking, typically carries a negative connation, but


when harnessed by organizations, employees, and the crowd it has tremendous positive impacts. Even motivated “solopreneurs” are quickly becoming the talent-of-choice for some of the world’s most successful enterprises (i.e. rise of start-up visas). They reframe the concept of “employee” to include outside partners who can open the doors for thinking and innovation that are not limited to organizational culture or assumptions. This approach allows for new ideas that essentially “hack” an existing system, highlighting weaknesses and opportunities that an organization would otherwise miss. Hacking is a skill that needs to be developed and embraced in our new complex and changing environment. The trend of exploring the dream environment further demonstrates that collaboration is moving from the physical to the digital domain and beyond. In essence, the People Cloud is becoming transpacial, creating a whole new space and definition for collaboration beyond traditional social media. The emergence of cloud computing makes the possibility of leveraging human dreams a tangible reality. Scientists in Japan are already using MRI scans to understand specific aspects of dreams such as emotions and meaning, with the hopes of revealing dream content through brain scans. Taking “dreamscaping” to the next step, Hunter Lee Soik is in the beta stages of creating the Shadow App, which records and stores individuals’ dreams. The app allows people to set an alarm that will gradually wake them up so the dream can be recorded through writing it in the app or speaking it aloud. The dream is then transcribed and key words are pulled. The goal is for the app “to evolve into a cloud-based global dream repository.” Users would then have the capability to share their dream details with one another to learn even more about their commonalities or differences. “Dreams are inherently social but intensely private…We can get the data and start looking at it – we can make the invisible visible” (PSFK). Mimicking the plot from the popular movie, Inception, the U.S. Army developed the “Power Dreaming” program that has already been proven helpful for veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder induced nightmares. “During our conscious hours most can hide what they have become…but in sleep this vigilance slacks and the dream world can become a frightening and uncontrolled experience with waking consequences” (Wired). Ultimately, the experiment is demonstrating how digitally altering dreams can counteract nightmares. Veterans work with professionals to create customized dream scenarios with avatars that use the individual’s physio-emotional state to offset stress. Similarly, scientists are studying how to store and upload a person’s memories, personality or consciousness onto a computer, with the potential ability to access those memories – or even communicate with that person – far into the future. This concept, known as digital immortality, is the focus of various research efforts at institutions such as MIT. Russian media mogul Dmitry Itskov has even taken this idea on step further, launching an initiative to create robots and holographic bodies that can house the human consciousness and allow it to be accessed indefinitely.


“You have the ability to finance the extension of your own life up to immortality. Our civilization has come very close to the creation of such technologies: it’s not a science fiction fantasy” (Yahoo News). Some believe that the Internet of Things and the increased integration of humans and robots puts humanity one step closer to transhumanism, the burgeoning movement toward modifying and re-engineering the human body for increased performance. Researchers are also studying how radically amplified human intelligence, the technologically-boosted brain, could be equally or more powerful than artificial intelligence. According to Andy Miah, director of the Creative Futures Institute and professor of ethics and emerging technologies at the University of the West Scotland: “The human enhancement market will reveal the truth about our biological conditions – we are all disabled. This is why human enhancements are here to stay and likely to become more popular” (Guardian). Future employment candidates will likely find aspects of themselves to enhance, making them more marketable and productive. Recruiters may even begin to seek out certain augmentations as a filter for employment.




Conclusion Social media’s growth in recent years is not a technological phenomenon. This movement towards a networked society is under girthed by a significant global cultural shift towards collaboration and openness as well as an accelerating pace of change which demands fluid knowledge exchange. These underlying causes represent major drivers that will continue to influence the proliferation and framework of social technology in the future. Social media as a technology is morphing into the People Cloud as a new social architecture in which we collaborate fluidly, innovate transformatively, and live differently emerges. On a micro level, peer-to-peer networks are flourishing worldwide but on a macro level, social media is being itself redefined even as it reframes elements of our culture like work and talent. The People Cloud is how humanity’s age-old need for collaboration is manifesting itself in the digital age, showcasing how we are increasingly moving from the physical space to a virtual environment. As the technology supporting these shifts advances further and social norms continue to be redefined, the People Cloud will transform yet again. This time it will move beyond digital and ultimately create a whole new ecosystem for collaboration that will redefine human consciousness, completely altering the way we work, play, and learn.


People Cloud - 2013 White Paper