Towards the smart organization: An emerging organizational paradigm and the contribution of the European RTD programs

Research paper by Erastos Filos, Eoin Banahan

Indexed on: 01 Apr '01Published on: 01 Apr '01Published in: Journal of Intelligent Manufacturing


The new economy is the result of the information revolution, of shrinking and ever more powerful computers, and the emergence of an efficient, ubiquitous and invisible communications infrastructure. It is characterized by three distinctive attributes: it is global, it favors intangible things—ideas, information, knowledge, relationships, and it is intensely inter-linked. As more and more organizations prepare to “go digital”, only few of them really seem to recognize what implications this transition will have on their business processes and on the organization as a whole. The transformation involves much more than setting up a digital infrastructure and requires even more than the ability to enter into a virtual collaboration with other partners. Organizations need to become “smart”, i.e. knowledge driven, internetworked, dynamically adaptive to new organizational forms and practices, learning as well as agile in their ability to create and exploit the opportunities offered by the digital economy. The article considers technologies and trends towards inter-operable tools for organizational agility and flexibility based on distributed business operations. The European Commission has been supporting these developments through its various research programmes since the early 1980s. Besides the notable research and technological development (RTD) achievements, important progress has also been made in the area of standardization and through consensus building between the research and business communities in Europe. It is further recognised that technology alone will not be able to sustain the creative potential of the digital economy if the socio-economic, the legal and regulatory frameworks are not adequately taken into account.