Posts Tagged ‘Communities’

The Challenges of a Digital Artisan in the 21st Century Workplace

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

A recent article on top technology trends talks about “wiki-work”, which describes today’s seamless internet-facilitated creation and distribution of work, and the “porous workplace” where mobile technology enables work to be carried out in any location and at any time. Trend spotter, Howard Tullman, believes that these and other trends will contribute to a future where more people will piecemeal their workloads, working multiple freelance jobs instead of one full-time position. “By 2020”, Tullman claims, “40% of the U.S. population is going to be acting as free agents.”

This projection aligns with the concept of the “digital artisan” that we have defined in our previous blogs; an individual who is adept at leveraging digital capability to create, enhance and deliver high quality products or services in small quantities, tailored specifically for select customers and markets. In other words, it’s the antithesis of today’s world of mass-production and mass-markets.

For me, however, Tullman’s forecast arouses some concerns and prompts me to pose the following questions: if 40% of the population becomes freelance by 2020, what will the overall economy look like? Will large companies still dominate the economic landscape? Will mass-production and consumption still be the drivers of economic growth? What will be the role of Wall Street in this new world? How will labor law and human resources operate? How will people transition into these new roles? And how will society and the ecosystem evolve to support them?

I’ve also recently been reading about the new Catch 55 – a derivative of the famous Catch 22! Catch 55 refers to the requirement for employees to now work beyond the traditional retirement age, primarily due to dwindling pension funds. This is becoming complicated, however, at a time when companies are being forced to ease the 55+ year olds out of their positions as the younger generation – which is cheaper to employ – push for promotion and the top jobs.  Again, this is something that we have written about – with the loss of the older, more experienced worker goes a wealth of tacit or aggregate knowledge that corporations traditionally hold so close to their chest as proprietary capability. This loss of know-how is effectively released out into the collective where it can, potentially, become fuel for the fire of competitors or new entrants.  The question then arises – how do these 55+ year olds transition into a new world where the corporate workplace considers them too expensive to hire, even though they invariably bring valuable experience-based capabilities and a keen desire to continue working for at least another 10 to 15 years?

Having been one of those 55+ year olds who made the transition from corporate life to free agent / freelancer / consultant, I can attest to the challenges that this brings, and in particular the acquisition and application of new and practical skills. Aspects such as learning how to sell and market yourself,  building a pipeline of work, ensuring that projects are in various stages of completion and execution to maintain a continuous cash flow, dealing with large companies that often delay projects, don’t pay or delay payment – all these are taken care of by others in a corporate environment. There is clearly an opportunity for a new type of agency to emerge – one that seeks and feeds jobs and projects to this select group of freelancers, and leverages their talents to meet corporate requirements. In a report by Vistage “The Future of Work”, this concept is referred to as “Going Hollywood”,  where in movie making today a different set of actors, directors, screenwriters and producers are brought in each time to fill the necessary roles, versus the days when large movie studios controlled the whole process.

One final thought that comes to mind is that, if 40% of the working population is going to become free agents with no guaranteed employer or income, then credit bureaus, mortgage companies and banks will have to drastically rethink and readjust their perspectives on how they assess people for loans and mortgages, or otherwise the future implications for home ownership and wealth creation, as well as the building industry, appear pretty grim.

Since collaboration is now the name of the game, the social networks and communities that have rapidly emerged over the last 5-6 years should now be evolved into broader learning and support mechanisms for today’s digital artisans, to ensure that this group of individuals acquires the necessary skills, support and training to make a smooth transition into the 21st century workplace.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

Social media boot camps – is that all it takes to re-boot your business?

Friday, May 13th, 2011

You can tell when the hype cycle on social media has reached its pinnacle when you see a Sunday newspaper running an advertisement for a “Social Media CEO Boot Camp”. In 90 minutes, this crash course is going to provide you with Social Media 101, successful case studies, proven strategies and tested techniques, and will result in generating new customers for you. And the reason that you’d be interested in this is because “your existing traditional advertising and marketing has stalled”!

The likely probability is that this course will tell you about social networks, including Facebook, forums like Yelp or Trip Advisor, and micro-blogging Twitter, as well as content communities like YouTube; perhaps it will also mention wiki’s and social search sites such as Digg, and the power of RSS. It will inform you about the explosion in social media created by users generating content and companies exponentially increasing their participation, while emphasizing why you must have a voice in this expanding universe. At the same time it will preach to you about the value of search engine optimization and, if the program is really good, it will stress the need to engage listening programs to hear what people are saying about your company and its brands. As a CEO, you will come away in one of two states: either total amazement and full of energy or, more likely, filled with concern about the ability of your organization to catch up.

The reality is that social media is one element of a larger movement resulting from the impact that digital technologies and social business have in changing the interactions of companies, customers and employees on a daily basis. It is no longer about monologue conversations between the company or its employees and consumers; it’s not about control and selling; instead the emphasis is shifting to community engagement, openness and participation.

At a recent seminar on social business run by IBM and “Information Week”, the following component pieces were identified as critical elements in social business architecture:

1. The ability to understand the market dynamics of the industry, including how competition, brands and customers are socially engaging.
2. The utilization of social software, including platforms, applications and technology.
3. The identification of social objectives, including customer engagement, employee empowerment, partner enablement and supplier engagement.
4. The determination of social output, including consistent social media, the creation of communities and the participation in social networks.

The key take-away was that a social business strategy is not just about the deployment of social technology and software but that it is about the organizational, cultural and process shifts that also need to be recognized and planned for.

The audience at this seminar was comprised of technology and information savvy subscribers of Information Week, and yet the majority of the questions related to these four major themes:

1. How do I work with IT so that they don’t stall implementation of our social media strategy?
2. How do I sell the need & concept of a social business strategy to my boss?
3. How do I ensure that my social business strategy addresses security and compliance issues?
4. How do I prevent organizational overload derailing my social business strategy?

At the heart of all this complexity and constant change, resulting from the increasing utilization of new technologies, software and business processes, is the need to take a holistic planning perspective and to recognize the need for good human relations and change management.

As a CEO, you are smart, flexible and adaptable but even you can’t keep pace with what is occurring, so don’t anticipate that a single individual in the organization can either. What is required is the creation of a community of people with the common purpose of acquiring the necessary knowledge and pushing forward with the transformation that is required. In this way you will facilitate, shape and ensure the success of your company in the digital world.

We at KeySo Global understand the importance of having a strong social business strategy and we’d be happy to show you how converged technologies can be used to help your business run more efficiently and effectively. To set up an appointment, call us at +1 847-478-1633, email us at info@keysoglobal.com or visit our website at www.keysoglobal.com.
Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC