Thought for the day:The end of history or the end of trust?

Hard-hitting IT commentator Dr Simon Moores gives his personal take on the hot issue of the day.When Francis Fukuyama wrote The...

Hard-hitting IT commentator Dr Simon Moores gives his personal take on the hot issue of the day.When Francis Fukuyama wrote The End of History, he was thinking of a new world order that followed the end of the cold war. One where unrestrained capitalism had prevailed over what we understand as democracy.

However, mix capitalism and technology and you also stimulate the expansion of two separate but connected forces: globalisation and virtualisation.

Today, business is both everywhere and nowhere simultaneously and concepts of corporate governance, have, in a number of prominent examples, been discarded as irrelevant luxury. Fifteen years after the film Wall Street, greed, it appears, is still good, and business degeneracy is on the rise.

If investor credulity and the dotcom "bubble" defined the end of the 20th century, trust is an early casualty of the 21st century. Trust in governments and trust in institutions, such as Andersen, which were once recognised as pillars of professionalism and integrity, now appear to be riddled by conflicts of interest.

Theoretically, technology should offer a company tighter control of its decision-making and accountability functions than before in human history but, quite demonstrably, it doesn't. Why is this?

My own theory is that the management theories of the 1980s and 1990s, re-engineering, downsizing, upshifting and many more, produced post-modern businesses with a single profit-driven purpose.

Anything else was "streamlined" and viewed as irrelevant. But I believe that these days business is so streamlined and downsized that management spends much of its time reading e-mail and hoping that all the spinning plates don't stop at once.

In a flat corporation, nobody really owns the responsibility until, like Barings before or Deloittes or Andersen and Enron today, it's too late. The technology at our disposal should offer the means of facilitating a wider sense of corporate responsibility and of tightening the governance that is so obviously failing.

As a global business community, we need to start concentrating a little less frantically on creative management theories that drive profitability and rather more on measures and systems that encourage trust, responsibility and good management. Integrity for a business of any size is a currency that once lost, can never be recovered.

Does IT make business less or more accountable? >> reserves the right to edit and publish answers on the Web site. Please state if your response is not for publication.

Zentelligence: Setting the world to rights with the collected thoughts and ramblings of the futurist writer, broadcaster and Computer Weekly columnist Simon Moores.

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