Thanks to technology, society is moving at an insatiable speed. Our to-do lists are in overdrive, constantly expanding thanks to increased mobile connectivity.
We’ve all become accustomed to record levels of productivity, and are probably unaware of just how drastic the recent shift towards societal efficiency has been. Scrolling through news feeds in line at the supermarket and checking work emails on the metro are new normal behaviours, and are practiced every day from Europe, to the GCC, to Asia.
A new workforce, heavily influenced by productivity resulting from information and communications technology (ICT), is entering the labour market. Their lifestyle is characterised by greater individual freedom, openness to mixing work and private life, and a tendency to challenge established ideas and authority. These are the digital natives, and they are revolutionizing our traditional ideas of business.
This latest breed of entrepreneurs is not that different from those of us holding 9-to-5 jobs in terms of how often we incorporate mobile connectivity into our everyday lives. Entrepreneurs have, however, been able to focus their energies on utilising mobility for profit beyond the confines of their employers, becoming business owners in their own right.
To digital natives, work is much more than just a pay cheque. They reject unhealthy relationships with office life, and instead believe work should fuel their ambitions and help them complete personal goals. Organisations that want to attract them must foster a culture of openness, creativity and innovation. At the same time, they must also take advantage of the experience and knowledge of their current workforce.
Timothy Ferriss, a celebrity in entrepreneurial circles, is an American entrepreneur who has designed his work to fit around his ideal lifestyle. He is part of this new group of individuals who have quickly found ways to translate mobility into productive and profitable business, and he has even boasted that he is able to make in a month what some make in a year, by only working four hours a week.
Everything has changed for entrepreneurs with the advancement of mobile connectivity – working hours can be set at leisure, and business can be conducted from anywhere. ICT can help employers adapt to these new demands for flexible working environments, but when employers are slow to adapt, inspired employees become entrepreneurs.
The Broadband and Entrepreneurship report by the Stockholm School of Economics looked into the correlation between broadband and entrepreneurship, and concluded that a one percentage point increase in broadband penetration increases new business registration by 3.8 per cent.
Considering this, the effect of ICT on entrepreneurship is incredible, and leads to increased numbers of entrepreneurial opportunities, improved market access for entrepreneurs and reduced transactional costs, as well as reduced costs for starting a new business.
We at Ericsson have found that individuals embrace innovation before groups do. This explains why individual entrepreneurs, rather than businesses as a whole, have been much quicker to completely reinvent what it means to hold a job, run a business, and profit from rapid advancements in ICT.
Changing behaviours and fostering innovation are hallmarks of entrepreneurship, and of ICT. Connectivity allows aspiring business owners to be more productive, more efficient, and more tuned in than ever. It also empowers individuals, leading to self-education through online courses, analytical reading and peer-to-peer discussions.
This has marked a noticeable shift in mindset. More and more, entrepreneurs focus on being productive rather than being busy. For them, gone are the days of allocating specified amounts of time on emails, as most of us do five days a week. With internet access available at any time, from anywhere, the new entrepreneurs formulate their ideal days at will, only paying attention to emails when convenient or necessary to meet their business goals.
The increasing demands of a global and digital marketplace are pushing firms to move away from traditional hierarchical forms of decision-making and towards a more organic, networked-based structure. By providing people with the tools and infrastructure to make it easy for them to start a business, ICT nurtures innovation and helps people to realise their ideas for new companies, products and services. It provides access to a market far greater than what was previously possible for start-ups, making the future of business unpredictable, but exciting.
Ericsson will discuss technology as a value creator at the upcoming Networked Society Forum today in Dubai