Much has been made of the international experience of Philip Clarke, who will succeed Sir Terry Leahy at the top of Tesco from next March.

Clarke, currently the retailer's international and IT director, has led the march overseas, running operations in Asia and Europe. Yes, there are challenges in the global portfolio, not least the US business, but international is the fastest-growing part of the Tesco empire.

However, I have another theory as to why Clarke is the right choice for the top spot and it focuses on his other role, as head of IT. As the global economy moves from a knowledge-based one to what the Future Foundation calls an "ideas and innovation" economy, new technologies will alter the way we work and innovate.

Tesco, of course, has always led the way when it comes to innovation, be it the move into banking (a key driver of growth going forward), the introduction of Clubcard or development of its online business. Behind all this is IT.

Tesco has also been a leader when it comes to people. And now, according to new research from Google, IT and HR are about to come closer together. A study of 3,500 employees, 100 HR managers and 100 IT managers across the UK, France, Germany, the US and Japan, points to a transformation of the workplace by 2020 thanks to the sharing and development of ideas.

The research finds an 81% correlation between collaboration and innovation, with employees in the UK who are given the opportunity to collaborate at work almost twice as likely to have contributed new ideas to their company.

Judith kleine Holthaus, account director at the Future Foundation, warns that businesses that fail to create an environment encouraging collaboration and innovation will be "less likely to exist in five years".

So far, however, the picture is bleak. While employees are using collaborative tools such as Facebook and Twitter to share information and ideas in their personal life, one in five says there is no process in place to contribute ideas to their employer. Only one in 10 thinks management will be the source of ideas in the business, with nearly a third thinking other employees will bring innovation.

"It is inconceivable that the future will not be more forcibly brought about by insight, knowledge and information. Nothing can stop the process of collaboration," warns Dr Carsten Sørensen, senior lecturer in information systems and innovation at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Geography, silo thinking and the impenetrable language used by IT and HR have all been barriers to progress in the past. In Clarke, Tesco has someone who can break all these down.

Siân Harrington is editor of Human Resources magazine.