Business Books: Author sees future for cloud companies

Thu Aug 27, 2009 4:36pm EDT
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CHICAGO (Reuters) - Twenty years ago, the idea that technology would be at the center of business was still part of the future. Computers were just starting to land on desks as fledgling companies like Microsoft Corp and Apple Inc said their products would change the way we work.

Back then, Michael Malone co-authored a book called "The Virtual Corporation," describing the future as adaptive, driven by technology and global in reach.

Now, in the age of constant communication and social networking, Malone has written "The Future Arrived Yesterday, the Rise of the Protean Corporation and what it Means for You" (Crown Business, $27.50) as a kind of update.

While business has changed in radical ways, with computers and smartphones always tethered to the Internet, Malone argues that companies have not changed fast enough.

Employees have changed radically from who they were 20 years ago thanks to new technology, but today's companies "no longer reflect who we are now."

Increased mobility, both technologically and in terms of career, is another factor shaping companies.

"We accept that working at home or as a road warrior or as a part of a global virtual work team entails a certain loneliness and detachment," writes Malone.

Companies, he argues, need to change -- radically -- to keep ahead.

Malone points to IBM, Apple, and Cisco Systems, all of whom have changed their core business to meet future needs, as examples of what he calls protean corporations -- those that are versatile and can change their form, appearance or behavior.   Continued...

<p>The cover of "The Future Arrived Yesterday, the Rise of the Protean Corporation and what it Means for You" by Michael Malone is seen in this handout photo. REUTERS/Handout</p>