The Cyber-Organisation and the New World of Work: Advocating a twin governance and collaborative intelligence solution to overcome a constant disruptive business context

By Mario Raich, Simon L. Dolan, Dave Ulrich and Claudio Cisullo

This paper explores the concept of the cyber-organisation and, in particular, the so-called cyber-enterprise and its functionality in a business context that is constantly generating disruption due to rapid technological advances and a shift in the definition of work. The cyber-enterprise is, and will be, operating in this fast-changing context driven by artificial intelligence. We argue that cyber-reality will change the fundamental roles of all stakeholders, be they employees, suppliers, customers, investors, partners, associations or governmental agencies, and will require corresponding changes in the governing bodies of organisations. Today, we are living in a world in transition and transformation(1). There are three powerful converging megatrends that may explain the shaping of the new world of work: globalisation, digitalisation and creation / destruction. Add to this the rise in cyber-reality, artificial intelligence (AI), global connectivity, as well as hybrid reality, hybrid work and business entity, and, finally, new, disruptive technologies like quantum computing, blockchain, neurotech and robotics, and you will understand that a new form of cyber-organisation is emerging. It is not a luxury; it is a vital necessity in order to survive and sustain business. We propose a new structure of twin boards to deal with this new business environment strategically and operationally.


Beyond contexts related to business, we are also facing global challenges threatening our sheer existence: demographics and global migration; environmental deterioration through global pollution; climate change; asymmetric conflicts and wars. Other contributing factors that are shaping, or will shape, the cyber-enterprise include the emerging new “Intelligent Internet” (including the Internet of Things), combined with machine learning, mobile technology and new technologies encompassing people, artefacts and cyber-entities (CE)1, which is on the way to becoming the first autonomous cyber-entity existing and acting in hybrid reality.

Beyond digital reality, a new, much-more-potent and disruptive revolution is surfacing: cyber-reality (CR). Cyber-reality is a powerful configuration of elements from digital reality, augmented reality and virtual reality. Together with artificial intelligence (AI), it will lead to a far more radical transformation than anything we have seen before. In fact, digitalisation is just one step, albeit a necessary one, in the transition towards virtual reality (VR). The progress of VR is tightly linked to the development of computer technology and artificial intelligence.

The radical changes in business environments occurring as a result of the rise of cyber reality and advanced AI are causing a totally new design of the enterprise, including structure and governance. We argue that a new form of corporate governance is emerging (or perhaps needed), based on the twinning of more-traditional executive boards with a replica of the coronation in virtual reality.

Adding to this complexity are new forms of higher education which are becoming a core part of cyber-business development. Education has become strategically important and will definitely move to the corporate board level. In a recent paper, we asserted that the design of lifetime education is essential for the Cyber-Age, and it is based on four pillars: learning, research and design, development and deployment(2).

The new generation joining the workforce and entering the markets is highly “cyber-savvy”. Social and professional life are shifting increasingly into virtual reality. People need to be willing and able to coexist, live and work side by side with smart machines and cyber-entities, creating collaborative intelligence.

To prepare for the big transformation ahead, we need to understand what is happening right now, what is on the horizon, and how and where all this will shape the cyber-organisation and its corresponding governance. Since transformation is already in effect, we wish to alert the readers that there are issues that need to be dealt with immediately (here and now), while other important issues can be left for the future2.

A large part of the human population lives and works extensively in hybrid reality, composed of “our reality” and cyber-reality. With virtual reality becoming seamless with “our reality”, the boundaries between the different realities are increasingly blurred.

Today, we may wonder how it is to live and work in a world characterised by permanent transitions, where highly smart cyber-entities are present as companions of humans. Make no mistake; this type of world is not far away; smart cyber-entities are already supporting people throughout the day, at home and at work, in politics, in the arts, in science and technology, in education, in entertainment, in “our reality” and in cyber-reality. Cyber-reality consists of digital, augmented and virtual reality.

Coexistence and collaboration have become an integral part of human civilisation. Robots and smart machines are taking care of a significant proportion of manual and administrative work. A large part of the human population lives and works extensively in hybrid reality, composed of “our reality” and cyber-reality. With virtual reality becoming seamless with “our reality”, the boundaries between the different realities are increasingly blurred. Moreover, the new spatial Internet based on highly sophisticated AI and advanced VR leads to a plethora of private and corporate communication networks with restricted access.

Imagine, in a not-too-distant future, situations where some people have physical and mental abilities way beyond the rest, simply because they have augmented their competences, thanks to advanced technologies and techniques. The mentally enhanced humans are considered to be the intellectual elite, with coaching and mentoring duties towards the rest of the population. They create the talent pool of scientists, technicians, engineers, future researchers and future designers or even spiritual leaders. Imagine how social and professional life will shift into virtual reality. By the same token, crime and wars can also occur in this virtual reality. In countries ruled by powerful lords, advanced technologies permit control over the citizens.


Reality or imagination

Digital reality has already made big inroads into all domains of our life. Augmented reality is expanding fast in gaming, education and business. The market for augmented reality is expected to be worth $61.39 billion by 2023, growing at a 55.71-percent compound annual growth rate3. Virtual reality is establishing its presence in many industries in a number of ways, such as experiences and business processes4.

So, we are witnessing different elements of new forms and structures of organisation that are unfolding: the so called “cyber-organisation” or “cyber-enterprise”. Once fully developed, these will be very different kinds of organisations. We do not argue that all organisations will become cyber-organisations, as we will most likely see a mix of traditional forms side by side. Some organisations will be relatively stable, such as those in charge of infrastructure, but there will also be those who will constantly be adjusting in a highly automated environment, and these will struggle to satisfy the growing and changing needs, requirements and wishes of its multiple stakeholders. They will have a structure that is highly nimble and agile, creating and driving new markets in the hybrid reality as a substitute for, or an addition to, the more traditional markets.

Many working activities will be executed collectively by highly sophisticated, AI-based entities (machines and robots) in a joint effort with humans. Technology will accomplish routine, standardised tasks that are often seen as repetitive. Humans will spend their working years performing a mix of productive, creative and educational activities. An increasing part of work and education will be shifting into cyber-reality, in particular virtual reality.


Re-examining AI and CR: Taking a closer look

If we look at the world today, waves of new applications which employ artificial intelligence are being introduced across all spectrums of life – work, business and leisure.

People are using various AI applications in daily activities and work tasks without even being aware of them5. Research by McKinsey has gone as far as describing AI as contributing to a transformation of society “happening ten times faster and at 300 times the scale” of the Industrial Revolution6. Several authors see AI as the new driver of growth.

Purdy and Daugherty argue that AI has the potential to overcome the physical limitations of capital and labour, and open new sources of value and growth7. A report entitled “How AI Boosts Industry Profits and Innovation”, published by Accenture Research and Frontier Economics, claims that AI technologies have the potential to increase productivity by 40 percent or more by 2035. Accordingly, they will increase economic growth by an average of 1.7 percent across 16 industries, with information and communication, manufacturing and financial services leading all industries8. In the same vein, Columbus, in an article published in Forbes magazine, claims that artificial intelligence will enable 38-percent profit gains by 20359. Profitability will be noticed mostly in education, accommodation and food services, as well as the construction industries.

AI is already enabling a wave of innovation across many sectors of the global economy. By and large, it helps businesses use resources more efficiently.

The number of AI applications and AI start-ups is continuing to grow. AI is on the way to becoming omnipresent in our world, and we are increasingly dependent on functioning AI applications.

A McKinsey article entitled “Global AI Survey: AI proves its worth, but few scale impact” looks at AI adoption across industries, regions, and capabilities, and the research bears out the instincts of those early movers10. Healthcare is emerging as the prominent area for AI research and applications. According to a 2016 report from CB Insights, about 86 percent of healthcare provider organisations, life science companies and technology vendors to healthcare are using artificial intelligence technology11. Healthcare AI start-ups have raised $4.3bn across 576 deals since 2013, topping all other industries in AI deal activity12. Bioz, for example, has developed advanced AI that reads and understands life science articles, helping researchers to accelerate the discovery of cures for diseases and the development of new treatments and medications13.

The number of AI applications and AI start-ups is continuing to grow14. AI is on the way to becoming omnipresent in our world, and we are increasingly dependent on functioning AI applications. A recent Siemens report entitled “Unlocking the potential of digitalization”15 shows the growth of various forms of AI and its increase between 2014 and 2019:

  • Autonomous robots: 31% increase (from 3,582 to 3,927) (including self-driving vehicles)
  • Digital assistants: 30% increase ( from 2,175 to 8,075) (e.g., Siri, automated online assistants)
  • Neurocomputers: 22% increase (from 1,590 to 4,685)
  • Embedded systems: 19% increase (from 877 to 2,095 (machine monitoring and control systems)
  • Expert systems: 12% increase (from 7,055 to 12,433) (e.g., medical decision support systems, smart grid)


In addition, we can see AI and CR converging16. Future progress depends very much on the development of ICT, but also on new technologies, like photonic computers, quantum computing and Web 3.0 (which may well be the spatial web17). According to CB Insights18:

  • AI applications begin to go beyond the focus on narrow tasks, moving towards general AI.
  • New techniques for the creation of AI applications are being invented. For example, deep learning is getting a makeover, thanks to capsule networks.
  • The effect of AI is increasingly entering into the activities of white-collar workers, such as lawyers, consultants, financial advisors, journalists, traders, and more.
  • China is catching up fast with the United States in AI development. In some areas, China already has the lead.

Nevertheless, it will take a while before we see fully fledged cyber-organisations in a hybrid world.


Applications of Cyber-Reality (CR)

CR is being used in different industries, such as finance, healthcare, architecture, construction, manufacturing, retail, tourism, transportation (air, water, land, outer space), mining, etc. For more, see overviews of applications19. Obviously, the development of CR is tightly linked to the progress of AI. VR is being deployed in different areas of business: procurement, production, R&D, innovation, HR, marketing and sales, etc. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Virtual and augmented reality is creating innovative methods in healthcare for treatment and training, and for the collaboration of doctors. Shafi Ahmed, Professor of Surgery and Associate Dean at Barts Medical School, has based his efforts to solve the huge global shortage of trained surgeons on merging the world of medicine, global education, and virtual and augmented reality to democratise and scale surgical education, so as to make it affordable and accessible to everyone, using the power of connectivity to allow equitable surgical care20. See also a list of top healthcare VR and AI start-ups21.
  • Researchers at Nvidia22 have taught artificial intelligence systems how to generate and detail new virtual cityscapes, by training neural networks on real video footage23.
  • At AImotive24, self-driving AI is learning to drive almost entirely in a virtual world. The company is doing 90 percent of its testing in virtual reality25.
  • eXp Realty is the largest residential real estate brokerage by geography in North America. eXp Realty has 11,000 agents (and counting), who connect through a virtual office reminiscent of the massive online multiplayer game Second Life26. Inman27, the industry’s leading source of real estate information, is calling eXp Realty28 one of the most innovative real estate companies in the world.

In the next couple of years, we will most likely see the biggest progress in applications based on augmented reality. In this way, people will bring VR into their daily and working lives, preparing for its deployment across the entire spectrum of life and business. We will see many specific VR applications for conferences, the gaming industry, the movie business, the travel industry, education, etc.

Nonetheless, the biggest progress is anticipated in human-machine collaboration, where the two sides will complement each other. This will open the way for future enhancements of human capabilities based on sophisticated AI, neurotech, biotech and gentech. Perhaps one of the killer sets of applications will reside within the fast deployment of VR, and research suggests that it will be implemented in the healthcare sector, helping to contain the cost explosion.

In an earlier article published in this journal,29 we presented a classification of the realities that we are facing or will be facing. Based on the different “realities”, multiple “hybrid realities” will be created. The full power of cyber-reality will come when virtual reality is seamless with “our reality”. This will be the result of the convergence of AI and CR.


So, what are the implications for governance and ownership?

A new form of organisation is emerging – the “hybrid organisation” – which operates simultaneously in several or all “realities”. Some areas of organisational activities are already shifting towards virtual reality, e.g. marketing, education and R&D. The cyber-organisation, therefore, focuses on providing solutions in the Cyber-Age. Each solution is a project, based on a digital solution, which becomes available later on a virtual platform. As challenges and solutions are far more complex, core members of the interdisciplinary hybrid project teams will be carefully selected and assigned to specific purposes. Additionally, ad hoc talents will support them across the globe. This new organisational species has also been called the Market Oriented Ecosystem (MOE), which evolves and melds the traditional holding company and multidivisional firm30.


What is the purpose of the cyber-enterprise?

The cyber-enterprise is a self-sustaining adaptive CR network of relations acting as an engine for multiple value creation. It has the capacity to produce and deliver the corporate promise (i.e. the creation of meaningful solutions, products and services, leading to multiple value creation). The form of the enterprise is based on value creation networks. The key issue is the ability to form networks and relationships by working on digital platforms and virtual networks within multiple ecosystems.

The digital value platform and, later on, the hybrid value network will be the most important structure of an organisation. This kind of structure allows for several contact points with the environment. The three most important will be marketing, sales delivery and procurement.

The cyber-enterprise represents the Zeitgeist of the Cyber-Age at its best31. Its sustainability is not based on stability of the structure and linear continuation of “more of the same”. It is the product of continuous change, transformation and innovation based on its agility, flexibility and rapid adaptation. Many cyber-enterprises are the outcome of unexpected, often disruptive changes. It is a model for future education, deploying the full range of learning, understanding, development, creative solutions for the future and, finally, implementation. It is constantly exploring and analysing a thousand possible futures, and designing its own – ever-changing – future as well. This requires the interlinking of many disciplines of knowledge on a global scale, with interdisciplinary teams composed of humans with enhanced abilities and cyber-entities using and leveraging technology on the edge.

The leading members of the cyber-enterprise can be called the “high priests” of the future, since they explore and design constantly, watching the context changes and in particular the emerging changes, their investigations supported by special exploratory platforms 32.


The challenge of governance in the cyber-enterprise

Due to the constant transformations in the business environment, strategic entrepreneurship is becoming a main driver of business. Permanent change, sometimes highly disruptive, requires a permanent adaptation of the strategic direction, sometimes even of the purpose of business.

Quick reaction and agility alone are not enough. Agility without strategic entrepreneurship can lead to wrong decisions. Therefore, strong business leadership requires a combination of strategic leadership and strategic entrepreneurship to play a major role in the executive board of directors. This means that “strategic twins”, or individuals with two core competences – leadership and entrepreneurship – will be indispensable.

This leads to the critical issue of getting a corresponding talent with multiple competences to run in parallel. As companies need more and more digital- and virtual-savvy employees, the question becomes whether just substituting senior executives with digital natives is sufficient, or whether perhaps it is risky, since the organisation is losing decades of precious executive experience. This is a real dilemma.

The solution to this dilemma, perhaps, is to create parallel boards (we call them “twin boards”) that will together maintain agility, future-oriented and responsible for the overall strategy. The two executive committees need to be working side by side. We argue that we will need, perhaps, one board consisting of young, high-potential executive talents that will oversee future business, and another board with senior executives in charge of taking care of the actual business
effectively and efficiently.

Future business means preparation for virtual-age technology, with corresponding innovative projects and initiatives, and start-ups. The actual business represents not only the generation of profits, but also securing the necessary funds for the creation and development of future business. In addition, the senior executives will also have the role of mentoring and coaching the members of the “future business board” in their talent development and executive decisions.

Adding to this complexity is the fact that business in the future will also be composed of AI entities working in tandem with humans. So, we may need to draw scenarios of collective intelligence in order to predict what is coming and aid the selection of the best paths and solutions. We are talking about joint governance of human leaders and intelligent digital and virtual entities. This joint governance will be based on blockchain principles. Blockchain is a peer-to-peer network, which distributes power among the different members, using technology. This means no single person or system can ever shut down the blockchain. It would require many users with serious computing power to run the blockchain down, and even then they might not be successful. Blockchain is robust and resistant to attacks and fraud, due to a distributed power system. The new form of corporate governance, therefore, will put an end to most of the administrative management work, as it will be delegated to AI entities34.

In other words, business in the future will need to have a structure on two levels: agile and transforming ongoing business, and at the same time preparing new business ventures for emerging and uncertain future business. This will have a deep impact on corporate governance and structure. It will require a double executive board, as we have suggested before, but with a different focus: one for existing business and one for future business. Each one will have its own budget, strategy and strategy implementation, business development and projects. But, at the same time, they will use a common corporate structure and have a common board of directors in charge of the entire corporate strategy.

The above proposal may lead to the creation and deployment of new business practices and the spreading of digital and virtual expertise within the corporation. In addition, it is a smart way to attract young, promising talent to the organisation.

Successful new business ventures can be incorporated into the running business, or become separate business units, or be spun off.


More about strategic twin governance

In the Cyber-Age firm, we will see at the strategic level core executive competences converging and creating what we call “strategic twins”: leadership and entrepreneurship, as well as management and business acumen. Recall that the main reason is permanent business transformation in hybrid reality. The operational part of the executive work will be increasingly done by cyber-entities. The top executives will have to take care of the transformational ability and readiness of the enterprise. The speed of transformation will vary in the different industries, and will from time to time be subject to unexpected disruptions. Only quick and adequate adaptation will allow them to survive and to thrive. The list of business challenges is growing: managing hybrid teams composed of humans, robots and intelligent programs; enhancing human talents; digital and, later on, virtual entities on the board and the executive committee; blockchain in governance; emerging new leadership competences, etc.

It is assumed that in the Cyber-Age, the economy and business paradigms will be shifting from a focus on growth towards sustainable transformation and innovation36. Permanent transformation and innovation will be the rule. The business paradigm in the Cyber-Age will move towards partnership with cyber-entities, creating collaborative intelligence and allowing business to leverage the achievements of the Cyber-Age, to deliver values for multiple stakeholders.


Broadening the core competences for executives in the cyber-organisation

Traditionally, the core competences for executives were considered to be: leadership, entrepreneurship, management, and business acumen. These now need to be expanded to include “cyber savviness”, which will enable executives to use and leverage ICT, AI, CR & CE, etc. for the well-being and survival of their organisations.


We argue that, in the future, leaders will become enablers of education. The cyber-organisation will become a “hyper-education community”.

Towards transition and expansion of key executive competences

We argue that, in the future, leaders will become enablers of education. The cyber-organisation, therefore, will become a “hyper-education community”, embedded with continuous learning and unlearning processes, involving its entire ecosystem and, according to some experts in particular, its customers37.


Revisiting the concepts of work, workforce, industry and technology

Let’s redefine the concept of work. We may consider work to be any activity (physical, virtual or mental) which creates value for quality of life. Initially, work was mainly necessary for survival. Later, there came a split between paid and unpaid “work”.

Some key questions arise. How will future work be positioned within the new business models based on digital platforms and, later, hybrid value networks? How will the framework of supply and value creation affect work? What will be considered work in the future? Where do we have untapped potential of work? What role will working time play in the future? How much time will be allocated for work, for education and for private life?

First and foremost, we need to understand the uniqueness of people and their core competences on one side, and those of smart machines on the other. In addition, we need to explore the synergies and the collaboration of people with smart machines. Probably there will not be an either/or situation. Smart machines will just enter gradually into many job areas, enhancing people’s work. It will be a complementary collaboration, rather than a competitive one. But there will also, no doubt, be a total shift in the content of work from people to smart machines.

Collaborative intelligence, i.e. the smart collaboration of people and smart machines, is therefore an important theme to be discussed. Just fuelling people’s fears about job losses does not seem constructive. In the Cyber-Age era, the problem is not “work, or no work”, but rather the way in which work is remunerated and the values which we attach to work. We need to stop paying for working time and start remunerating for meaningful activities that add value to quality of life in society.

The perceived value of work needs to shift from materialistic outcomes and values towards life values. This would allow shifting from paying working time towards paying for outcome and value created. In this way, work can become a meaningful activity again. Maybe we should start to base taxation on value created and shift part of these to a universal income.

No doubt within the next decade we will have a massive reduction and transformation of human work and working activities as a result of cyber-entities (some estimates go as high as 50 percent). But these numbers are unevenly distributed; some jobs will vanish, while others will be only slightly affected. Moreover, many jobs will simply be enhanced by cyber-entities38. The workforce will be engaged in a mix of “old” jobs, jobs changed because of cyber-entities, and many new jobs, most of them not known today.


The shift from Leadership 4.0 towards Leadership 5.0

In a world that is undergoing revolutionary technological transformation, the way we work, live and act an eventually have an effect on leader transformation, too. Leadership in the Fourth Industrial Revolution will be defined by the ability to rapidly align and engage empowered, networked teams with clarity of purpose and a fierce resolve to win (this is Leadership 4.0)39. According to the Oxford Leadership programme, agility is the principal competence of digital leadership, coupled with the involvement of employees. In addition, leaders need to be open and transparent and create an innovative culture40. Today even the most advanced agile enterprises – Amazon, Spotify, Google, Netflix, Bosch, Saab, SAP, Salesforce, Riot Games, Tesla, and SpaceX, to name but a few – operate with a mix of agile teams and traditional structures41.

Leadership 5.0, on the other hand, operates in a volatile VUCA context, which requires the ability to anticipate disruptive changes, adapt purpose and business models and do it almost instantly. It will require collateral leadership and future affinity on all levels. This means, among other things, access to the necessary talents and resources on a “just in time” basis. These leaders will have to deal with a rapidly changing “workforce” composed of humans and smart machines, operating in symbiosis in cyber-reality.

Keeping a sense of meaningfulness and sharing corporate values will represent a permanent challenge to both models of leadership. Collateral talent development and deployment and access to necessary talent in time will entail a higher level of responsibility for leaders. Collaboration and co-creation amongst hybrid teams composed of people and CEs will become a key competitive advantage. Lastly, leadership will also require lifelong education in the leadership competences. Fine-tuning and acquisition of additional competences represent the characteristics of these new leaders.

Most key competences in the near future are strongly related to specific human competences42. They include:

  • Life competences (self)
    Generic and digital literacy, verbal and written communication, negotiation, critical and future thinking, imagination, creative problem-solving, generic entrepreneurship; self-development
  • Social competences (important other people)
    Relationships and empathy, life partnerships, parenting, collaboration, trust and respect, empathy, collaboration, virtual collaboration, negotiation
    Living and working in different realities
  • Cognitive / mental competences
    Rational and irrational thinking, mental switching between the different realities, common sense and sense-making, computational thinking, cognitive flexibility, finding creative solutions, complex problem-solving, critical thinking, future thinking, design thinking, transdisciplinary. holistic and systemic, encompassing thinking and actions
  • Work competences (work)
    Performance, value creation, adaptation, collaboration and co-creation, entrepreneurship, care, and specific professional and executive competencies
  • Future orientation, anticipation and design and meaningful and purposeful action based on free will and autonomy
  • Creation based on creativity and entrepreneurship
    Curiosity, exploration, imagination, resourcefulness creative problem-solving
  • Caring (social and healthcare, sustainability,
    service orientation)
  • New media literacy (social media, visual media)
  • Business competences Partnership and collaboration with CEs; cyber-reality competencies; coping with permanent transformation and innovation; business expertise and hybrid organisations know-how. Executive competences: leadership, entrepreneurship, management and business acumen. Tightly linked strategic leadership and entrepreneurship. Coping with cyber-entities, cyber-reality, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and the “Future Internet”
  • Value based leadership / Leading by values (see also:


A note on collateral development and talent enhancement
The aim of collateral development is to educate a few selected, talented individuals within the organisation and enable them to spread what they have learned across the organisation. Since talent development is the most important element of education, let’s look at executive talent development. It begins with focus on individualised talent development for talented executives and those with high potential. After an in-depth talent exploration, they need to complete an executive challenge, with collateral development of the competences and talents of the project team. At the core of collateral talent development is the talent development project, which deals with a key issue selected for each participant in the talent development. This is the beginning of a talent development journey called the “talent challenge”. During their engagement in the talent development project, the participants work on their core competences and have an opportunity to develop them within the project. The participants in these projects are also learning how to develop their talents in a sustainable way through specific on-site and online projects. Sustainable talent development is driven by specific personal characteristics, in particular, curiosity, perseverance and resourcefulness. It is fuelled by passion, joy and pleasure. Collateral talent development needs to have strong links with the development and implementation of solutions for corporate key issues and the future development of the corporation. It creates and enhances entrepreneurial spirit in the corporation. Later on, a roll-out into the organisation takes place. The aim of collateral education is to spread talent development practices across the organisation, making it more entrepreneurial and innovative. Research on the future of higher education indicates that talent development will become the most prominent topic in education during a large part of our lives – in particular, our working lives. Talent development begins with the definition of key skills and the focus domain (expertise) where these skills will be deployed. This leads to the development of core competences, and their successful deployment leads to the creation of talents. Talents can only be developed in their application. Higher and postgraduate education, in particular executive education, will converge towards dual education, because there is no talent development without proper deployment. Lifetime education will be based on four pillars: learning, research, development and deployment. Collateral development allows the transformation of an organisation into a ‘talent forge’, shaping talents and securing the development of critical competences.43


Cyber-work with a focus on Web 3.0

Evolving AI and CR are changing the nature of markets, geographical boundaries are increasingly blurred, and technology has emerged as a powerful creator of new markets. They also are increasingly reshaping how companies interact with their customers.

In his work on the future of marketing, Kumar has introduced the concept of “transformational marketing”44 as a response to marketplace changes and future trends, in order to present customers with superior-value offerings over the competition. Over the next 2-5 years, convergence into the virtual market, including the introduction of 5G technology, will be a fact. Peter Diamandis, the co-creator of Singularity Hub, wrote in a recent blog that all this transformation will create a trillion-sensor economy that will “enable us to both map our physical world into virtual space and superimpose a digital data layer onto our physical environments. Suddenly, all our information will be manipulated, stored, understood and experienced in spatial ways”45.

Given that current knowledge and competences will become obsolete in a very short time, the growing demand will be for lifelong learning, which will also be achieved using Web 3.0 and its innovative new VR interfaces and platforms. And again, Diamandis argues that tomorrow’s career model will shift from a “one-and-done graduate degree” to continuous, lifelong education, professional VR-based re-education, which, all in all, will reduce barriers to entry for anyone wanting to enter a new industry.

Today we can see several trends in the virtual workplace which redefine what work really means:

  • Technology development (e.g. AI, CR , Blockchain) and new technologies (e.g. IoT, spatial Internet) are reshaping marketing; “imagine showing up at your building’s concierge and your AR glasses automatically check you into the building, authenticating your identity and pulling up any reminders you’ve linked to that specific location” (Diamandis, 2020, op. cit).
  • Multiple channels are leading towards an “encompassing platform-based, all-channels marketing”.
  • Social media and influencer marketing are gaining in importance.
  • Positive brand perception becomes crucial in the ever-changing markets. Emotional branding becomes crucial46.
  • Focus on individual customers and extreme personalisation are crucial for success. This is leading to hyper-personalisation of content, and a one-to-one relationship.47
  • Mobile connectivity is moving to the core of marketing and communication.


Conclusions and implications

The advancement of artificial intelligence, the rise of the virtual workplace, the developments in 3D technologies, the shift to Web 3.0 and the improvements in digital data integrity via blockchain technologies are unstoppable. They are already present in all areas of our life and work. To prepare for the big transformation ahead of us, it is important to understand what is happening right now, what is already emerging and what is coming later on.

  • Due to the development of cyber-reality (digital reality, augmented reality and virtual reality) and artificial intelligence, we are also experiencing the transformation of reality towards “hybrid realities”.
  • Organisations need to define the best way to leverage the growth potential for themselves
  • New technologies, materials and technological solutions will bring new challenges and opportunities. All this will require organisational readiness for change and transformation to cope with the coming challenges; i.e. agility, fast adaptation, flexibility and resourcefulness.
  • Each organisation needs to organise its own “future intelligence”, which enables the exploration of what will have the biggest impact in the short and long term on the organisation. It also needs to create mechanisms to translate these insights into meaningful action.
  • This means also exploring available AI and CR solutions to find out which ones are relevant for the organisation, and testing the best way of deploying them. Teach leaders how to create and use contextual and future frameworks.
  • To be ahead of the competition, the organisation may need to create a “Future Executive Board”. In this article, we proposed the idea of a “twin board”. It also needs to find out what the critical corporate assets of the organisation in the Cyber-Age are and refocus the organisation accordingly.
  • The workforce needs to be prepared for collaboration with smart machines and robots, so as to harness “collaborative intelligence”. Lifetime education solutions for the employees of the organisation must be introduced, in particular collateral education and talent development.

About the Authors

Mario Raich is a Swiss futurist, book author and global management consultant. He was a Senior Executive in several global financial organisations, and Invited Professor to some leading business schools like ESADE (Barcelona). He is the co-founder and Chairman of e-Merit Academy (, and Managing Director for the Innovation Services at Frei+Raich Ltd. in Zurich. In addition he is a member of the advisory board of the Global Future of Work Foundation in Barcelona. Currently he is researching the impact of Cyber-Reality and Artificial Intelligence on society, education, business and work.

Simon L. Dolan is currently the president of the Global Future of Work Foundation ( He used to be the Future of Work Chair at ESADE Business School in Barcelona, and before that he taught for many years at McGill and Montreal Universities (Canada), Boston and University of Colorado (U.S.). He is a prolific author with over 70 books on themes connected with managing people, culture reengineering, values and coaching. His full c.v. can be seen at:

Dr. Dave Ulrich is the Rensis Likert Professor, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan and Partner at the RBL Group ( He has written over 30 books and 200 articles on talent, leadership, organisation and human resources.

Claudio Cisullo is a Swiss-based serial entrepreneur and investor. He is the founder and Chairman of CC Trust, a family office invested across the biotech, leisure, pharmaceuticals, professional services, real estate and technology sectors. Among his most recent investment is Chain IQ Group, a globally active provider of procurement services.


Endnotes and references

1. By cyber-entities (CE), we mean all digital and virtual programs and algorithms; AI-based smart machines; robots; digital and virtual assistants; smart communication devices; all kinds of computing devices and the Internet.

2. We have presented ideas and insights about the future of higher education in a separate article: “Rethinking future Higher Education”. TEBR January/February 2019.

3. The Many Different Ways That Augmented Reality is Deployed Today – Many – Different – Ways – That – Augmented – Reality – is – Deployed – Today / 117

4. What industries are using virtual reality? Hannah Williams March 23, 2018 – industries – are – using – virtual – reality – 3674149/

5. Applications of artificial intelligence,; 14 Applications of artificial intelligence that you’ve never thought of,

6. Dobbs, Richard, James Manyika, Jonathan Woetzel, (2015) ‘The four global forces breaking all the trends’, McKinsey Global Institute. Quoted in “Artificial Intelligence. The Road Ahead in Low and Middle-Income Countries” June 2017,

7. Mark Purdy and Paul Daugherty, Why Artificial Intelligence is the Future of Growth,

8. Mark Purdy and Paul Daugherty , How AI boosts industry profits and innovation,

9. Louis Columbus, Artificial Intelligence will enable 38% profit gains by 2035, / sites / louiscolumbus / 2017 / 06 / 22 / artificial – intelligence – will – enable – 38 – profit -gains – by – 2035 / #6531deff1969


11. 10 Common Applications of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare, – common – applications – artificial – intelligence – healthcare/

5 Applications of Artificial Intelligence That Are Used (And Useful),

Brian KalisMatt CollierRichard Fu 10 Promising AI Applications in Health Care,

12. CBINSIGHTS, Top Healthcare AI Trends To Watch,


15 Business Applications For Artificial Intelligence And Machine Learning,

14. Nine charts that really bring home just how fast AI is growing. Artificial intelligence is booming in Europe, China, and the US, but it’s still a very male industry.–Mu9llmXtY3rUBAv_vrpx0X1fmp9E3FIIyzG8lHTB9ZLWKNBKgos1yeEZjTO_eeOoqGEdSxX3M6f8kwqDFG3Uq0vwK4Q&_hsmi=68299807

AI Index 2018 Report,

Christina Mercer & Thomas Macaulay How tech giants are investing in artificial intelligence, Nov 27, 2018,

Andy Patrizio, Posted July 18, 2018 25 Top AI Startups,

Anna Thorsen The Best AI Startups in Europe, November 27, 2018


16. John DeCleene, August 30, 2018, The Convergence of AI & VR – What You Can Expect – convergence – of – ai – rv – what – you – can – expect/

17. What Is The Spatial Web? November 19, 2018

How the Spatial Web Will Transform Every Element of Our Careers

Peter H. Diamandis, MD, Dec 12, 2018 ,

Annlee Ellingson , Aug 20, 2018, Verses introduces Web 3.0: The ‘Spatial Web’,

18. AI Trends To Watch In 2018, Artificial Intelligence Trends To Watch – CB-Insights_State-of-Artificial-Intelligence-2018.pdf

https: / / – Insights _ State – of – Artificial- Intelligence – 2018.pdf? utm_campaign=state – of – ai _2018 – 02&utm _ medium = email&_hsenc =p2ANqtz-8IBREjAnvr2m1Bs8TjuVaUquTkQgj13RHDBwQocIoXeFOD84x0WlpOzkyCYGqTfHgDk6fDocxUYa3yA_6l5fEhCBVrvw&_hsmi=60665752&utm_content=60665752&utm_source=hs_automation&hsCtaTracking=be5990ad-0aed-432b-a2e3-c76dfdc898e8%7C57a6f99e-da54-4bac-8857-8e3ad466c8ba

19. Applications Of Virtual Reality,;

VR Training Next Generation of Workers, Oct 30, 2017, 08:42am – training -next – generation – of – workers /#

20. Shafi Ahmed, PhD, FRCS , Professor of Surgery and Associate Dean, Barts Medical School / medicine / faculty2018 / shafi-ahmed /?utm_source=hub&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=xmed17&utm_content=nov12body

Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare | Accenture – Accenture-Health-Artificial-Intelligence.pdf

21. Top 19 Healthcare Virtual Reality startups ;;

Top 91 AI startups in Healthcare, Updated: December 08, 2018,


23. Michael Irving, AI neural network builds new virtual cities by studying real ones, 04.12.2018

Video-to-Video Synthesis, Ting-Chun Wang, Ming-Yu Liu, Jun-Yan Zhu, Guilin Liu, Andrew Tao, Jan Kautz, Bryan Catanzaro,


25. Vanessa Bates Ramire, Dec 18, 2017, This Self-Driving AI Is Learning to Drive Almost Entirely in a Virtual World, – self – driving – ai – is – learning – to – drive – almost – entirely – in – a – virtual – world/



Emma Hinchliffe, Inside the billion-dollar virtual brokerage,


29. Mario Raich, Dave Ulrich, Simon Dolan, Claudio Cisullo, Insights into the transformation of business in the Cyber-Age, The European Business Review – March-April 2018, – into – the – transformation – of – business – in – the – cyber – age/

30. Arthur Yeung and Dave Ulrich. Reinventing the Organization. 2019. Harvard Business Press).

31. Mario Raich, Dave Ulrich, Simon Dolan, Claudio Cisullo, Insights into the transformation of business in the Cyber-Age The European Business Review – March-April 2018, pp. 16-17

32. Examples of AI helping development to follow the fast changing world: Shaping tomorrow’s AI-driven, systems thinking model that delivers strategic foresight and anticipatory thinking in real time; tech market intelligence platform CB Insights,

33. Traction is a new management concept replacing strategy. In development

34. The promise of artificial intelligence,, p. 3

35. A strategic leader should, depending on the situation, be able to be analytical and focus on people- not just employees.

36. Discussed by Raich and Dolan, in Beyond Business and Society in Transformation, 2008

37. Edward Hess presents some interesting ideas in this direction, although he uses the concept of the “hyper-learning community“. Becoming a Hyper-Learning Community: The Future of Business

25 Jan 2018 – a – hyper – learning – community – the – future – of – business/

38. Mario Raich, Simon Dolan, Dave Ulrich, and Claudio Cisullo, Gloom vs. bloom of the future of work. Can We Chart A Positive Roadmap? The European Business Review September – October 2017

39. Brian Bacon, Chairman and founder – Oxford Leadership

40. 7 Characteristics of Leadership 4.0 – What successful leaders do differently

41. Darrell K. Rigby, Jeff Sutherland, Andy Noble, Agile at Scale,

42. Already mentioned in the article Mario Raich, Simon Dolan, Paweł Rowiński, Claudio Cisullo, Courtney Abraham and Jan Klimek ,Rethinking future higher education, The European Business Review, January/February, 2019

43. For collateral talent development

44. V. Kumar, Transformative Marketing: The Next 20 Years, First Published July 1, 2018

45. – in – the – age – of – web – 3 – /#.Xj04py2NQPA.mailto) .

46. Natalia Chrzanowska, 9 Thoughts About the Future of Marketing

47. ibid

(1) See: Beyond: Business and Society in Transformation, Mario Raich and Simon L. Dolan, Palgrave, London 2008

– The great transformation in business and society. Also “Reflections on current culture and extrapolation for the future” Simon Dolan, Mario Raich, Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal, Vol. 16 No. 2, 2009, pp. 121-130

(2) Some of these issues concerning business in the Cyber-Age, are presented in other chapters of this book (Raich & Dolan, op.cit. 2008

(3)  Collaborative Intelligence is a combination of human mind (HM) (individual & collective) and artificial intelligence (AI) in different forms and levels. It leads to co-working and co-creation of humans and AI-based systems and machines.

(4) Higher focus on human competences and talents


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