The inevitability of the Web-Footed Boomer

The mothers of invention - the big factors that will drive necessities at a global scale - are quite clear: energy and water shortages (and conflicts), aging populations with increased health care needs and fewer younger payers, rapid market and power shifts from West to East and temperate to tropic, climate change, and more. The general enabler is the ubiquity of low-cost communication via cell phones, computers, and the Internet.

It is very easy to get millions of people blogging and moaning about the necessities but crafting solutions is a different task. Into this vacuum will step the active boomers, a loose-knit cadre of millions of professionals ages 50-70.

Over the next 10 years the active boomers, a loose-knit cadre of millions of professionals ages 50-70, will provide creative solutions in the business world.

Driven by their own economic and social needs, they will play to their strength: addressing complex problems with a host of detail-oriented operational and project management processes (what they did in their first careers). They will work for large businesses and governments, not as traditional small salaried teams of employees but as huge ad-hoc clouds of talent that come and go with the tasks. They will need clear objectives, little guidance or supervision, and a modest electronic architecture with which they can form their own sub-teams and tap diverse expertise as they go.

The edge of change is being pushed inside organizations by firms like Imaginatik, Brightidea, and Spigit, and outside the firewalls by Innocentive, Nine Sigma, and Your Encore which serve as central brokers to match needs with skills. The barrier to entry is low and the opportunity rising; after a period of growth, refinement, and shakeout, a stable recognized marketplace will arise.

In 10 years this will seem an entirely normal way of doing business, of addressing complex issues.

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