The Death of Employer/Employee Paradigm in the Digital Age

August 17, 2016 09:40

With the proliferation of connectivity, the measure of “an hourly wage” has become irrelevant. If a business can’t afford the national average for a particular task, the employer can simply go online, and find an equivalent skill set in a less developed economy with lower hourly wages. Not only has the world gotten more competitive – it has become more flat as to the wage scale. This is why “hourly and salary” no long make any sense. In the next years, I predict the minimum wage will evaporate, and benefits will be provided in new ways to those who earn them.

Employment, like business, is facing ‘disruption’. Just look at Uber. Electronic access to employment base is a new reality, a global experience, that is shaping the linked, global, economy. Every individual, business owner and government needs to embrace the possibility, instead of fear the future – because, the future is here, and it has only begun to emerge.

Not only will employment continue to go to the most efficient, cost effective, productive place, and people, regardless of geography. But, as with the beginning of the industrial age, when machines were feared, today we fear further automation, through the use of Artificial Intelligence.

Like the industrial revolution, however, these fears have been overstated. Human’s are not yet obsolete. Humanoid employment won’t diminish. We don’t have to “fear the (mechanized) reaper,” or the wages in other countries. We have to embrace what else a productive thinking sentient human being, no matter of country, race, culture, language, gender or wage scale, can do. People can no longer go to work and park all or a portion of their brain – or park their butt, in an office chair. Nor, can they say they are “working from home” and not do productive work. It’s become to easy to identify what productivity is, and when something’s not getting done.

Humans are getting better, more productive, with technology advances.

Sure, there is more competition as a result. It is compelling us to become more creative at problem solving, and use more of our brains. In short, it is taking out the “slack” of inefficiency, and compelling everyone, every business, every government go get smarter, better, and do more things that are of more benefit to, well, everyone.

Need to grab a ride easier than the outdated taxi system allowed? Great! Uber it!

Need a less expensive place to sleep than a $400 a night hotel room in San Francisco? Hop on AirBnB and snag that spare room.

Need a transfer from Canadian Dollars to Indian Rupees immediately, to pay someone overseas? Fantastic, use TransferWise or the recently acquired XOOM (bought by PayPal), instead of the age old banking wire system!

All of the examples above demonstrate how the internet age has brought better service, at a better price point. It’s the same with wages and employment. The trick is the platform – how employers engage on the platform. How employees make their time more valuable and productive. And how “sharing” the wealth is formed and divided. These will form the new basis of “job security” – on a global scale.

From the most basic work, to the most complex, what technology is telling us as employers and employees is, get smarter, better, more productive and faster. Those who embrace this dictate will drive the next generation of stream-lined business. Those who don’t, will falter and eventually fail.

This goes for employees, business leaders, entrepreneurs and entire countries. Get smarter! It’s time to change your systems. It’s time to adapt, to become more in line with today’s reality. Adopt a Global Integrated Platform (G.I.P.) mentality that enables engagement on many levels, and establishes a new “sovereignty” of nation and state, one that can be integrated into a truly global economy. The protectionist mentality of the old system will fall. Ditch the old way of thinking, find new ways of productive creation, for both the employer and employee – supporting the effectiveness of the business and then nation, is the way to evolve on the global landscape. And it doesn’t have to be difficult.

Every business, no matter how large or small, can incorporate the balance between making a living and living life.

It’s happening already, it’s simply not well organized in our companies or personal lives yet. There is still that tension between work is work, and “time off” is all about me. These are leftovers from the industrial revolution. The “employer - employee mentality” won’t give up easy.

But, the innovators of platforms, when you go to Google, or Apple, or Twitter, the “office” is more like a “welcome home” than a set of cubicles with miserable environments. And there are successful companies that don’t even have “offices” any more – completely virtual enterprises that blend cultures all over the world, where gatherings are by web conference.

These companies are seeking to blend what “life” is – since the better part of our lives is spent working, it should be an experience we love and enjoy, rather than a grind we dread every day. And “flexibility” is a responsibility all need to embrace – from the business to the employee, to the Governments and bankers who deal with both.

Every one, every business owner, every person who works for a company, is “on the front lines” in some way today. Employer-Employee relationships built for production lines, manufacturing and the industrial age, are giving way to a new era of intelligent, and committed engagement. More than ever before the competitive landscape is bigger and more effective.

This is all happening because of the platform we currently call the Cloud.

Today, employers who embrace and provide platforms on the Cloud for work, and even snappy, fun, environments “when and if” employees show up to the office, will succeed more and more. The idea, however, of the flexibility to work from anywhere, to an employee who works for a company that has a platform that allows this sort of work, means, too, that that same platform can be open for business and employment anywhere in the world.

Mom always said, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” Sorry, mom, but thanks to the internet, yes I can. Want to work from home or from a hotel room at any time, day or night? If your employer has a system to allow you to do that, you love that flexibility. What’s the trade off ? We’ll that means you now have about 4 Billlion other possible candidates for your job from every wage scale, and a giant talent pool to compete with! So, you better be effective, smart, and really WORK to make your work the best you can, for your employer – or guess what? Someone else will.

The idea of being an employee, then, is to engage 100% in the future of your primary employers platform. When the going gets tough for the business, which it always does, you don’t just skip ship, you stick it out and become better, make that business better. That is how to earn “job security”. Become smarter, more valuable, supportive and committed. Then, not only will the employee earn and learn more – the business they work with will thrive and consider them irreplaceable.

The next organizations we form, will not require “work hours” or even “pay by the hour” – but “pay by the engagement” and “work accomplishment.” The Employment office is rapidly being replaced by digital platforms like UpWork and Fiverr. Economics, at various levels, in the cycle, will be based on outcomes.

What does this mean in real dollar terms? A $50 an hour job, is a $96,000 income. If that job, at the basic level can be done for $24,000 somewhere else on the planet, then what innovative, special talent and effort, creative work, does the employee bring to the employer to make that worth a factor of 5? So the $96,000 wage, actually is a value of $120,000 when the work is done during the year.

Are you faster? Did you find a new way to do something, produce something, that can be replicated and delivered to more customers or clients? Did your experience become such that you can do the job in 25% of the time it would take someone else? Are you helping expand the outcomes of the work you do (deliver it better, to more people, for more revenue to the business), or are you just doing the job and leaving it to the business to figure out what to do with your work?

And employers, are you always looking for a way to improve the access to your work force, your customers and clients, your products and services, through your platforms? If you aren’t, you’ll pay more in wages, deliver less to your team and customers, than your competitors. Think Blockbuster vs. Netflix. Who has more “employees” today? What made that possible?

The platform! Instead of employer/employee, it’s time to think about platformer/platformee.

New business models will look a lot more like video game platforms “Worlds” where resources and players operate on different levels, with different rights, tools and permissions. The most skilled players (platformees) will become critical and rise to be the top players of the game. The most successful games (platformers) will have designed a World that will attract devoted platformees.

Revenue, will be split in creative new ways too – based on productivity, performance and delivered between the platformer and platformees at the various levels. Accounting, as we know it will change (see my prior blog post “The End of Accounting”), and, so too, must the Government concerns, programs and operations of agencies that were part of the Industrial Revolution, that “protect workers rights”.

There is no “think tank” that can solve the climate change issues in the world, it has been recognized from climate to human equality, there needs to be global effort, cooperation across borders, and platforms that work together. This is as true for employees, employers and governments who value their economic engines of business, as it is for the air we breathe.

Global trends show us that the Platform is more important than anything else in any business. Competition, no longer, is defined by geography. It is defined by how easily one can reach beyond geography to access resources, be it human resources, raw materials or finished good, globally.

This is just the beginning. When we look at the H.I.T. (Human Intelligence Tasks) today that the Millennial have to compete for, from far and wide, to find an “acceptable wage” - the next generation will have to compete with AI (Artificial Intelligence) workers that achieve things, without health care benefits, without “time off” and for a fixed cost, do as much work as the processor speeds allow – which are increasing exponentially.

We need to recognize that our employment systems, our ideas of what employment even is, has been stripped away, and is falling further and further behind. The Global Platform is already here. And, that Platform, composed of exponential intelligence and opportunity, will become more and more available. The world we live in will be more and more automated, available, and recreated, or created, over and over again, by technological advances.

“Platformers” who are today’s employers, will maximize resources, and build their business operations better – it is what must happen for a Platformer to stay relevant and in business. Platofrmees, then, must adopt a new level of thinking and engagement, to be relevant, important, and to rise to the upper levels in the age of the Platform.

Our systems, understanding of what is “employment” and what it is to be an “employer” must change too. It’s no longer the “owner – employers” world. And there is no longer room for the “hourly wage – employee rights” systems that were critical during the industrial age. It is the engagement, access and platform generation that will shift all of these outdated mind-sets and systems that have supported them for the last few hundred years.

Algorithmic Data Process: “Manipulation” or “Magic” for People and Business?

April 22, 2015 12:55

Facebook and the Power of Algorithms

According to an article written by Professor Karrie Karahalios, from the University Illinois, and published in the MIT Technology Review October 2014 Issue, the power of algorithms is becoming a, mostly unknown, breeding ground for “corporate psychology research” on consumer behavior.  In the article, Professor Karahalios identifies the Facebook study on “emotion contagion”, which documents and identifies the contagious effects of newsfeeds, pitting negative vs. positive feeds posted on unknowing Facebook users pages, to identify their reaction.

The result?  More negative feeds, more negative posts.  More positive feeds, more positive posts.   Professor Karahalios then conducted a small study to determine what people knew about how algorithms affect their opinions online – only this time, the participants knew they were being monitored and manipulated on their feeds.  The result of this study?  One person “quit” Facebook all together after the project.  The other 39 participants modeled their own feeds, with more control, and a better result.

Algorithms, interactions online and acro5397276650_3ec1775117_bss mobile devices are now basically ubiquitous across most societies.  The surprise is not that the algorithms affect the way people interact, nor even that Facebook would use this method to “study” users actions.  After all, Google, Yahoo, eBay, Amazon and iTunes have all done this for years.  There are even algorithms we really love, like Amazons “other recommended books for you” based on our behaviour of reading interests, or Netflix’s suggestions, or iTunes “Genius” playlist creation that saves us the time of creating a playlist, based on the mood of the music we are listening to. But then this kind of data mining can have dangers too, like when Facebook got a ton of bad press after their “Year in Review” algorithm ended up highlighting the worst events of some people lives, and replaying them alongside a snappy tune.

Of course, it can be argued that algorithms, that are more stealth, surreptitiously invading our most inner psychology of surfing, searching and posting, are all “bad” and “evil” plots, but, like anything it is more a matter of the grey area.  We must ask the questions like “what if” and “how” and “why” with this evolving part of our social infrastructure that tracks, collects, recommends and influences us, most of us, unknowingly. Like anything in life, there’s both a good and a bad side to the level of detailed information algorithms make possible.


How to use Algorithms Positively

What if, in enterprise, we make our businesses smarter with algorithms?  What if, those practices that prove to be the best practices are tracked, in the daily work we do, whether on a production line or, like most businesses in the western world today, and increasingly globally, with intelligent service tasks?

What if, algorithms were linked, through enterprise Apps to not only the information we deal with, but the processes we follow after having information, better information, more clear information, about how the things we do daily are done best?  Call it big data analytics, meets process dynamics.  Call it micro data of our HITS “Human Intelligence Tasks”, meeting the process we followed to accomplish the best result in the least amount of time, and/or, with the best outcome.

The argument can be made that “emotion contagion” which Facebook seem interested in, when coupled with actual functions of workers in their roles, can capture a better set of “best practices”. Perhaps this will help save staff’s time, or create better engagement with customers on a broad scale.  Perhaps making our businesses better, more emotionally positive places to work, with increased productivity, could result in a win-win scenario of teams of people and the organizations they work for, getting an improved careers, bottom lines, lifestyles, while customers could have improved interactions with products and services.

The Genius Process List

Call it the “Genius Process List”.  How do we create Genius Process Lists, smart “to-do” lists?  With what we call smart tags, process flow chains, where we start with a study of what our business does, at each role level, and then extend that to mobile, to desk tops, to the devices people already use daily to get their work done.  It doesn’t have to be “hidden” either.  Like Professor Karahalios research shows, it’s better if it is not.  When people are more aware about what they are doing, they improve the results, improve their “genius”.  This phenomenon, also known as the Hawthorne Effect, was demonstrated way before the internet age, in a study done at the Hawthorne Electricity plant in 1924-1932. People work harder at becoming smarter and thinking more about how they do things, when they know they are being observed.

The challenge isn’t with algorithms, or how to use them.  The challenge is with the old style of management, the things that businesses do in the “hierarchical mindset” of management who love “control”.   It is well known, now, that the more progressive organizations, who let go of “control” and let people become more natural and passionate about what they do, are the most successful organizations in the world.  Daniel Pink has spoken on TED talks about this reality, what he calls the “Puzzle of Motivation“.

Organizations, Enterprises, can effectively engage process flows, algorithmic “smart lists” tagged To-Dos to help capture, direct and engage participants from their workers, if they begin to engage Enterprise level tools and let their staffs participate at the level where the HITS “Human Intelligence Tasks”, the work “actually” gets done.

The problem is with algorithms.  The challenge lies with the way that management traditionally “thinks” about BI (business intelligence) analytics, and so they (management) can use BI to figure it out.

Shocker for managers, and executives.  Your teams and people are smart, and getting smarter.  They do the work, so let them participate.  When Harley Davidson did this a few decades ago, talked to the mechanics and the workers on the “floor” – and learned how they would manage the failing bike manufactures business, it re-invented the company into a brilliant global resurgence and brand that dominated the new “bike” culture – offering some of the most expensive and sought after motorcycles in the world.  And this was learned well before algorithms could be accessed to help any business get smarter.

Getting smart in our businesses is in and of itself, a process.  Business is a process.  A decade ago when I wrote about Business in Process Enterprise Design (BIPED) and developed the process flow algorithms that drive our Patents-Pending which drive the 1to1Real platform, I was thinking how business managers could learn more from their staffs than any Accenture type system design of the day.  Today, a decade later, we are seeing the reality of algorithmic intelligence that is not going to go away.  The only questions now are, how and who will become the Harley Davidson businesses, the smart ones, to grow with intelligence from the Way things actually get done the best.

Who knows, maybe even management and their techniques, will become “smarter” along with more productive teams, and better actual intelligence about what those people who make your business tick do everyday.   All it takes is the right tool, available on the right devices, and a start in implementing process flows that tell about the “real” way things are getting done, and how they get done best.

A.I., the Economy, and the necessity of Re-Educating

September 4, 2014 12:51

I read an interesting article recently titled, “Why AI Could Destroy More Jobs than it Creates, and How to Save Them” by a guy over at Tech Republic, Nick Heath. The article discussed a new book co-authored by two economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee. The book is called The Second Machine Age, and as explained on the book’s website:

“…Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee—two thinkers at the forefront of their field— make the case that we should be optimistic about the future because technological progress, ‘the only free lunch that economists believe in,’ is accelerating quickly past our intuitions and expectations. But we should also be mindful of our values and our choices: as technology races ahead, it may leave a lot of people, organizations and institutions behind.”

Building off of this, Heath’s article presents a new iteration of a familiar theory. Heath asserts that with today’s rapidly expanding technological landscape, more and more jobs are being automated, while the population steadily increases.

He notes the following statistic to back up his claim:

“For most of the second half of the twentieth century the economic value generated in the US – the country’s productivity – grew hand-in-hand with the number of workers. But in 2000 the two measures began to diverge. From the turn of the century a gap opened up between productivity and total employment. By 2011, that delta had widened significantly, reflecting continued economic growth but no associated increase in job creation.”

All the way back in 1965, Moore’s Law stated that the computing power of a microprocessor would double every 18 months. This fact is still true today. But with an ever increasing population seemingly permanently on the horizon, Moore’s Law gains new meaning.
Heath’s article provides some great insight into the role computerization is playing in today’s economy. And it certainly makes one thing clear: if you want to stay in business, have a promising career, and avoid becoming “obsolete”, you have to be creative and make A.I. work for you.

We take it for granted that that thing we use as a watch, camera, phone, calculator, and calendar, in actual fact gives us the computing power to manage an entire enterprise from our pocket. Now it’s time to use that power effectively, before someone else figures out how to use it to replace you.

The impact of technology literally stares some of us right in the face, every waking moment. However, too many people are still not effectively capitalizing on it to run their careers and companies. From paper to email, to spreadsheets, to word processors, too many business owners still believe a spreadsheet or PDF and email is sufficient to keep pace in today’s competitive climate. Unfortunately, most people don’t even realize how outdated this kind of thinking is.

The simple fact is, we take advantage of mobile and technical cloud advances, without thinking about it all the time. We only think about it when something goes wrong, like it did with Apple’s iCloud this past weekend. Are you going to wait until your industry is massively disrupted, or your job is usurped by an iPhone app before you take technology seriously?

Increasingly, we’re seeing start-ups like Uber or AirBnB emerge only to rapidly displace long established industries, and the giants that run them. Unfortunately, these giants also employ thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, of people. So for every “Growth Hacking” start-up, there are potentially be thousands of unemployed workers.

Every business and every profession which fails to adopt new technologies to operate their back office, and interact with their customer market, is headed down the same path the industrial revolution started us on long ago. But more, or better machines means doesn’t have to mean less people.

So, what can we do?

The Second Machine Age leaves readers with a strong message, and lucky for us, it’s not all bad news. As the authors state in their conclusion, “‘technology is not destiny, we shape our destiny.” Brynjolfsson continues, “[if] we do take an active role I think we can come out on the other side much wealthier and with more shared prosperity than ever before…”

All this really means is, “we have to reinvent education and reskilling, and people are going to have to take it upon themselves to more aggressively learn these skills. Because the technology is changing more rapidly, it’s going to be a case of lifelong learning and continuously reskilling.”

Why it’s time to finally let go of Email.

July 25, 2014 12:45

As in Charlton Heston’s famous monologue in the original 1968 concluding scene of Planet of the Apes, we kneel in the sand at the end of email. At the crumbled statue of liberty of communication, we can easily apply Heston’s script, “you really did it, you maniacs, you maniacs, you blew it up, God damn you, God damn you all to hell !”

Email has existed for over 43 years. That’s a very long time and frankly, it can and should be replaced, quite easily. With increasing dominance of social media, it seems high time that businesses recognize that email is no longer an effective communication tool, both inside and outside their organizations.

Just three years after Heston damned the world for not thinking about what we had, the first email was sent by Ray Tomlinson to himself, in 1971. More recently, on July 1st 2014, Canada’s Anti-Spam Law came into effect. Now, at least in one nation, arguably the most important marketing tool of the century, has largely been erased.

Canada’s attempt to put an end to endless waves of email is not only warranted, but prescient. Email will likely be around for many more years, but as with letter writing, it has become an antiquated and frankly time consuming method of communication, without any of the romance of its fore-bearer.

These last few weeks we all have received emails from companies who one way or another have added our email to one of their drip lists. Even the worst spam offenders are taking the new laws seriously, sending out imploring messages so that they may “keep in touch”. I don’t think I clicked a single one, though I read many of them as even my company had to craft and send out its own.

“No thanks”, I thought. I’d like to avoid needless distractions during my day. When I’m curious about your brand or organization, or need your services, I’ll come to you. It’s not hard, I can literally just go to Twitter, Facebook, Linked-in, Google, Instagram, or any of the plethora of other, more convenient and effective places I can find and talk to you. I may even visit your website. But I am not interested in simply being a depository for your marketing team’s latest campaign.

It’s time to run better businesses, without spamming people. What’s more, ‘management by inbox’ (a personal favourite phrase of mine designating the mistake too many companies continue to make) just doesn’t work. It’s time for businesses to stop wasting time trying to communicate with multiple team members in endless chains of emails. There’s too much at risk and it simply just takes too much time.

That’s the problem 1to1Real has always sought to solve. Our Activity Spaces allow team members to communicate effectively and dynamically to collaborate on projects and tasks. And our soon to be released iOS 7 1to1Real app will allow you the mobility you need to do your work, while you continue to actually live your life. You don’t need to be tethered to your inbox any longer.

Since 1971 email has been a great tool. It was also a great marketing idea. But with the emergence of an increasingly sophisticated technological ecosystem, there are better, more efficient ways to communicate with current and potential customers, and also with your staff, team and contractors.

Canada’s Anti-Spam Laws were a powerful statement. Businesses and organizations will have to comply. And frankly, why wouldn’t you want to? Don’t we all want less emails to sort through?

We suggest you try 1to1Real to manage even just one project. It’s time turn in that old 1971 vehicle you’ve been trying to drive your business around in for something a bit more streamlined. Build a more reliable and enjoyable relationship with your team, customers, and market.

Learn how 1to1Real can help your business be more productive, without email. Start a free trial today.