Think about how the cloud changed the way startups were run when we went from 20th centure Web 1.0 to Web 2.0. During the dot-com boom it was all amount of money and big hardware. Success started with $1M set of Sun hardware. Then came the cloud and changed this. Big upfront hardware investments were no longer needed. Throw in your credit card and pay as you grow. Few gigabytes of data today, some tera- or petabytes next week. One server today, hundred servers next month. Amazon is happy to handle that for you – just credit card needed. A perfect companion for business models where income is proportional to the number of users or amount of data.
The next thing about to change is the way the work is done. Just a the cloud allowed a person with just a credit card to run enormous web sites, the new way of doing work will allow the same guy to run teams of unlimited scale – just with his credit card, paying as he goes. The work being done will range from highly specialized activities to bulk work that can be essentially done by anybody with an Internet access. The specialized tasks are likely to go via services like ODesk or Elance. The bulk work via services like Microtask or Amazon Mechanical Turk.
This new way of working will create very good opportunities for people with very sharp focus area. For example suppose you are working with a project that needs a web browser extension. Why pay for an average developer to learn how to write those, when you can hire somebody who is specialized in writing browser extensions. People with focus can win, because they know their domain, have experience from similar work and can therefore give good references and tight quotes.
There will be also opportunities for those who can manage all this. It is one thing to come with a good idea and arrange the funding, a completely other to make it all happen. This is not just a about project management. Somebody needs to come up with the high level architecture, split the work into appropriate pieces, select the resources, negotiate prices, manage actual work and testing, resolve conflicts and so on.
As all this will take place over the Internet, location and nationality will matter a lot less than before. This will be also a challenge for the society. Money is probably no longer flowing through national banking systems, payments go via credit cards and services like PayPal. When work is happening in the cloud, money is in the cloud, servers are in the cloud and customers all over the world who will be collecting the taxes?