The way we get things done at work is changing at a rapid pace

By 2015, millennials will comprise 50 percent of the workforce.

By 2020, it’s estimated that there will be 75 billion connected devices in the world. These changes mean that the way businesses are structured and employees interact will evolve as well.

The accelerated adoption of mobile devices and now, more broadly, connected devices means that incredible computing power is available to employees around the world. And not just the sales team or outside reps.

With cloud-based services and software, systems like ERP are now available via mobile devices. The CEO of an American company can review sales orders while traveling in Asia. A person on the shop floor can view inventory levels in a location across the country. A company can be on 24/7 and — with systems like cloud ERP — everyone has real-time access to information when they need it.

This distributed capability means greater productivity on the fly, and it also supports greater flexibility in work schedules.

Innovation by collaboration

The innovation-driven culture of Silicon Valley has slowly crept into management practices across industries.

Management teams have long looked to Google, Facebook and other companies for guidance on delivering incentives and environments designed to build loyalty and spur creativity among employees. In the near future, plan to invest in tools that break down barriers — including cubicles — bring employees across the world together and encourage team-based accountability with less of the traditional hierarchy of corporate America.

What has been successful for software development and engineering teams — agile ‘sprint’ work with small groups — will be used in other contexts to encourage faster collaboration and more exchanging of ideas. To this end, we can expect even more social elements to be built into software and tools throughout the enterprise to support an immersive Facebook-like experience.

A brave, new data-driven era

Millennials came of age in the world of Google and, notably, in a world where questions can be answered quickly, forums can be accessed for new ideas, and training and information are free flowing. We expect as much information as we want, when and where we want it.

In the midst of this, the Internet of Things is generating data about when our products are made, shipped, delivered, used and serviced. The amount of data we have available at our fingertips is extraordinary.

This means two things:

Businesses must start tracking an ever-increasing pool of data and they must have the tools to help mine the data and a workforce that knows how to put it to use.

A manufacturer can easily know how often his product is being serviced, and what is breaking down. With that knowledge in hand, the product can only improve.

The ways that we’re consuming information and communicating with one another has forever changed. A business can keep pace, but executives must recognize and prepare for the changes that will advance their businesses and contribute to a healthy, engaged workforce. ●