The Bankwatch

Tracking the consumer evolution of financial services

The Impact of the Internet on Institutions in the Future | PEW

There is lots of wishful thinking contained in this PEW report which is not one of their better ones imho.  The people interviewed are by PEW’s admission skewed and several silicon valley names are included.  However the views follow the predictable linear thought process, such as, we have social networks therefore tomorrow everything will be social.  Clearly there are themes and directional indicators, but there are competing themes such as organisational inertia, shareholder needs, economic crises and last but not least, human nature. 

Some extracts.

The Impact of the Internet on Institutions in the Future | PEW

Some 26% agreed with the opposite statement, which posited:

  • ”By 2020, governments, businesses, non-profits and other mainstream institutions will primarily retain familiar 20th century models for conduct of relationships with citizens and consumers online and offline.”

Once past the headline, the sense of change remains, but some doubt expressed about the 2020 date and that it might be too early for consequential change. 

While their overall assessment anticipates that humans’ use of the internet will prompt institutional change, many elaborated with written explanations that expressed significant concerns over organization’s resistance to change. They cited fears that bureaucracies of all stripes – especially government agencies – can resist outside encouragement to evolve. Some wrote that the level of change will affect different kinds of institutions at different times. The consensus among them was that businesses will transform themselves much more quickly than public and non-profit agencies.

Many selected the “change” option, but said they were not sure drastic change will occur in organizations by the 2020 time frame. They said the most significant impact of the internet on institutions will occur after that. Some noted this change will cause tension and disruption.

And this final pessimistic note from Andy Oram is one that I can see being true.

The positives and negatives of technological change do battle. Will the result be a triumph of networking or more-concentrated, centralized control?
“I’m sure the survey designers picked this question knowing that its breadth makes it hard to answer, but in consequence it’s something of a joy to explore. The widespread sharing of information and ideas will definitely change the relative power relationships of institutions and the masses, but they could move in two very different directions. In one scenario offered by many commentators, the ease of whistle-blowing and of promulgating news about institutions will combine with the ability of individuals to associate over social networking to create movements for change that hold institutions more accountable and make them more responsive to the public. In the other scenario, large institutions exploit high-speed communications and large data stores to enforce even greater centralized control, and use surveillance to crush opposition. I don’t know which way things will go. Experts continually urge governments and businesses to open up and accept public input, and those institutions resist doing so despite all the benefits. So I have to admit that in this area I tend toward pessimism.” – Andy Oram, editor and blogger, O’Reilly Media.

Thoughts?  What will organisations look like in 2050 say?  Will the enterprise be open and participative with looking more like todays Google, or todays Bank of America?

Written by Colin Henderson

March 31, 2010 at 19:20

Posted in Business Models

One Response

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  1. I found this good information and I would like to show it on my website.

    Yvette Werksman

    May 4, 2010 at 01:59


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