– Welcome to a New World of Work

Plans to build a new Digital Scotland virtual consulting network

With this blog now up and running as the front end to the Digital Scotland network, the next main step is to establish, a consulting services supplier.

This will offer customers a route to tap into the expertise and ideas showcased here for the benefit of their business, with a range of services being developed for needs such as social media marketing, competitive advantage analysis, DevOps enablement and many more, via workshops, online support and other flexible options.

The flexibility and wide range of options highlights the interesting dynamic – It will be a virtual organization formed through the union of self-employed consultants, an ‘On Demand’ business utilizing the same principles as Uber and Airbnb, but applied to professional services.

The On Demand Economy

Back in June 2003 I introduced the idea of the coming ‘On Demand Economy’, through describing the Anatomy of an On Demand Enterprise, with an accompanying white paper guide.

This described utilizing a ‘loosely coupled’ service architecture to build more agile organizational structures that enable On Demand markets which unite freelance workers into “organic supply chains”.

The Cloud is a platform for On Demand computing, which itself is then a platform for a broader transformation of society towards an ‘On Demand Economy‘, exemplified by ventures like Uber taxis and Airbnb. These ventures apply these principles to disrupt traditional industries, by overlaying a ‘digital mesh’ across cities to better harness their idling resources.

Smart entrepreneurs like Uber are those who are tapping this workforce, combining both dynamic computing and resource employment to enable the organic adaptability of their business models that is central to the massive scalability. It is this efficiency that powers their competitive advantage, so that they can ‘satisfy the needs of consumers in a far more cost-effective, scalable and efficient manner than their predecessors.’

Another Economist article There’s An App for That covers how the model is rapidly expanding into numerous industries, citing numerous Uber-like startups repeating the success for markets like cleaning, food delivery and home handyman services.

In the Business Insider article they highlight this exploding trend and the underlying dynamic:

“Every week, new services launch that aggregate and organizes freelancer labor (those with excess time) to help those who have money but not time.”

Workers on Tap – The Future of Portfolio Working

With On Demand computing as the foundation the broader and more profound transformation will come from the same effect repeating for work itself, for the evolution to an On Demand workforce model for employment.

This Economist article Workers on Tap introduces and summarizes this effect of utility employment.

It’s not a new idea, also back in 2004 Thomas Malone wrote about the coming Future of Work, and long before that the original visionary Charles Handy described how our employment will evolve to become ‘portfolio working‘. Malone said:

“Imagine organizations where most workers aren’t employees at all, but electronically connected freelancers living wherever they want to.”

Platform Co-ops vs the Gig Economy

Critics will be quick to highlight the dark side that has arisen as part of this trend. Neil Mackay writes in the Herald about the realities of the ‘Gig Economy’, citing horrible stories about experiences for workers in fields like deliveries and catering.

The simple explanation is that as always it’s possible to have bad implementations of a good idea. These are just the mechanics of employment models and they can be utilized in a positive or a negative way; if a company sees it only as an opportunity to reduce the rights and pay of their staff to boost their profits then naturally the consequences will be negative.

Irrespective of the approach used the onus is still on the organization to define and implement a culture that values and prioritizes people and their work experiences. One key dynamic to highlight is that in many of these negative examples they are where the corporation still operates via a traditional employee model for their management, and only utilizes on demand for the front line workers.

Instead the goal with is to organize via a ‘Platform Co-operative‘ – There is no distinguishing between management and workers, where “they are owned and governed by those who depend on them most—workers, users, and other relevant stakeholders.”

Handy offers a blueprint for how to practically structure such a virtual team that we will implement, describing a ‘Shamrock organization‘.

So, if you are looking to break free of the corporate shackles but don’t want to go it entirely alone, this could be ideal for you – Send through a contact us or connect directly with me on Linkedin to discuss.

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