Communication is at the forefront of a world of weak ties that form and break up uninterruptedly. By showing their ability to respond to instability and paradoxes, specialists may convert a threatening progress into an opportunity to give a full meaning to their activity: integrate the company into a narrative of common good. But communication of the future will have to reinvent itself.
Should we imagine, come the 2030 horizon, new forms of entrepreneurial leadership? Even with the support of Big Data technologies, future managers and business leaders will have to cope with increasing complexity and uncertainty. The credo of there being a single one-best-way already belongs the past. Authority will no longer depend on who owns the knowledge. So, what will the skills and qualities of tomorrow's managerial class look like?
With the rapid advances in information technology, a new approach to knowledge is emerging which changes the very idea of skillfulness: what employees know matters less than what they are able to find, and, more relevantly, what they are able to share. Working alone creates less value than teamwork. Hierarchies tend to fade out, while collaboration becomes paramount. In these circumstances, the employees cease to be seen only as a productivity lever. Their personal performance continues to count, but now companies are also interested, and perhaps even more, in their ability to enter a dynamic and to nurture it. The employees can be valued for their creativity, capacity to innovate, their empathy and their intellectual curiosity.
Mathematical skills have become strategic for the business world and the most advanced companies hire high level scientists who tackle the underlying, fundamental, theoretical questions. However, this increasingly vital role of the boffins dedicated maths specialists often brings with it new demands and unforeseen responsibilities.
Here we have yet another of those crazy ideas that excites California, but this one potentially sounds a shade more ominous. In order to meet the shortfall of qualified engineers in Silicon Valley, a group of young entrepreneurs of the Golden State have proposed to anchor a floating city in international waters, off the Californian coast, capable of accommodating 2 000 engineers from all round the world, none of whom having a US entry visa. This would cut the dire and endless thirst for grey matter in the USA, a country where young students are shunning scientific and technical courses. Here we are witnessing a situation that is taking on the proportions of a national, strategic crisis. Other countries, other difficulties. But eveywhere the same question arises: how to train tomorrow's engineers?
Is engineering destined to remain a man's world? Not everywhere. In China, 40% of engineers are women and in the USSR of the 1980s, women accounted for 58% of the engineering workforce. But in Western countries, and in a large number of emerging economies, the feminization of the profession continues to be very slow and now seems to have reached its limit. This plateau is of concern to policy experts. For the last 10 years, the European Commission has highlighted the risks related to the shortage of engineers and has called on member states to draw more widely on the pool of female talent. In Australia and India, the press has taken up the matter. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics warned last year that the demand for computer engineers would see an increase of 36% by the year 2012 in the United States alone. It seems urgent in these conditions to train more women. But first, one has to ask what the obstacles are.