Digital technologies already cover all areas of life of a modern person. They not only create new products and services, but also encourage the formation of new industries and businesses. And if even a few years ago, businesses typically used digital technology as a tool to improve the management of companies, today there are business models that are fully built on digital technology. And so there is a need to manage «cloud» businesses and teams. This is not just about interacting with remote teams, but first of all about the ability to build teamwork and business processes in the entire company in a non-standard format.
Digital technology initially transmitted a significant part of communications to the network, and then storage and data exchange too. Companies have started to implement CRM and ERP systems that allow «digitization» of most business processes. This made it possible to actively use new forms of employment — freelance and remote work. The challenge for companies is to learn how to effectively manage teams that have both office staff, freelancers and employees working remotely.
Today we are already at the stage of creating new management structures — network management. And in this context a number of questions arise from managers and entrepreneurs. How to translate an existing business into network management? How to build and manage mixed and «cloud» teams? What skills do you need to own management and staff? Let’s consider each of these issues separately.
Digital technologies and network communications
Digital technology simplify work, eliminate a number of unnecessary operations, speed up processes. And they also allow you to fully control the staff: CRM and ERP systems capture every action and time in the system.
To increase productivity and reduce the inefficient use of working time, companies have begun implementing programs that track employee actions. For example, companies in the agrarian sector and logistics can plan routes more efficiently and use resources to implement them.
Meanwhile, for example, on the first day of the introduction of such a program for the banking sector, it was found that in the entire central office of one of the Calgary banks, only six employees actually worked during the working day, and the rest searched for various information on the Internet and communicated on personal topics in social networks.
Consequently, not all employees are prepared to ensure that each of their actions can be tracked and fixed by the management. And awareness of this aspect can radically change the organizational culture of companies.
Talking about network communications, they have already absorbed a significant part of the workspace: customer engagement and sales through social networks and Internet marketing tools, discussion of working issues and management decisions in chats and social networks are all realities of the present. Companies began to measure the effectiveness of their work through network communications, introducing in KPI’s the number of customers involved through social networks, the number of transactions conducted or sales.
«Cloud» commands and network management
Already today, every 10th worker in the world is a freelancer or a remote worker. And this trend is growing rapidly. In general, in the United States, the number of employees who work entirely or partially remotely increased from 19% in 2003 to 24% in 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and this figure continues to grow (more than 60% of employees expect to be able to work remotely in the future).
Now, companies need to quickly determine: what types of work to give on outsourcing or translate into a remote job, how to manage mixed or completely «cloud» teams?
Management of remote workers is not only the establishment of effective cooperation, communication systems, control and coordination of work. It is also a search for new motivation systems, methods for attracting and retaining workers in one team. A freelancer or a remote employee is always more autonomous and can move to a different structure than an office worker much faster. Therefore, the management faces the task of developing such motivational proposals and an internal corporate culture that can keep them in one team.
«Cloud» management structures and new organizational forms
Mixed and «cloud» teams change the structure of management, making it as flat as possible. So we can see the transition from the vertical control to the horizontal. There is no need for the middle link, and the top management is no longer a constant team. It is based on new realities depending on who is currently representing «cloud» teams at the board of the company.
Teams consist of performers (performing simple operations), experts (implementation of highly specialized and highly professional tasks) and team leaders. At the same time, leadership is situational — in different situations, different team members can act as leaders. And the generation of ideas and management decisions takes place collectively, with the involvement of all members of the team.
Most «cloud» teams interact as project teams. This makes the communication more flexible (reduces the hierarchy, and sometimes it completely eliminates) and results-oriented (the evaluation is based on achievements rather than participation in work processes). This, in turn, also changes organizational forms.
«Cloud» management structures do not have an established organizational form — workers are united not around a single structural unit, but around the tasks and results they are working on. Structural units disappear. Therefore, moving to team, joining a team and making managerial decisions is easier and more efficient. This increases the efficiency of work time and allows you to scale things up much faster than traditional forms of organization.
How does this happen in practice?
All team members collaborate in a single «cloud» space. They have the opportunity to join one or more projects that the company is working on. At the same time, the admission to the project can take place at different stages and at different intervals. Someone having analyzed the course of work gives good advice and then returns to his main project; Someone moves into another, completing it with his own competencies.
When workers are united around common tasks, collaborative decisions or achievements, they learn to interact with each other not on hierarchical principles, but on the basis of trust, flexibility, openness and equality.
For the startups that just emerged in the market, it is a real opportunity to form cloud teams, and that will become a key competitive advantage for them in the creative economy that is already here.