Logged and tagged workforce

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As someone who watches brands and markets I love inflection points. Consumer inflection points are most obvious in the retail landscape. One result of the financial crisis and bail out of Detroit was a reduction in car dealerships. Were you to drive down any long commercial highway 20 years ago and compare it to today you will see brand new banks on the sites once reserved for shiny new cars.  And as we legislate more fuel efficient car standards, those same streets have more eateries where gas stations once stood.

Today in the news, Lord & Taylor in NYC is selling its block long retail space to WeWork. The supply-side driver? eCommernce and Amazon.  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  WeWork, most know, started out as a low-cost office space solution — one where infrastructure, e.g., phones, cabling, office maintenance, coffee, is taken care of and asses in seats are rented for the day, week, month or year. They are now growing like wild fire. And the price points are increasing, as the amenities and addresses become more plush. The other inflection point driving WeWork growth is what’s happening on the demand-side: the freelance economy.

The work force is changing. The nature of companies is changing.  Google “logged and tagged workforce.” Or write me (Steve@WhatsTheIdea.com).  Those who are ready for the logged and tagged economy shall winners be.



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I was reading a story this morning about ResearchGate a social media community for researchers. It’s a place where they can get together online to share ideas, sources and projects – the end game of which is to accelerate project completion. If Facebook is the 800 lb. gorilla, social media plats (short for platforms) are smaller more discrete communities where people can commune and learn. Edmodo is one such for educators. Houzz is one for home remodelers.  And Etsy for people selling their home made crafts.

These category-specific social media plats bring the world’s resources to our fingertips. I remember talking and thinking about this while in a strategic role at (start-up) Zude in 2006.  Then, a few years later, while working for JWT on a “future of work” project for client Microsoft, the topic came up again under the guise of something I named the “logged and tagged workforce”  — an idea where was the project was more important than the workers.

The web opens up worlds of information and data to everyone. Google’s ability to search this information has transformed our lives. But as search matures and we pull back in search of better ways to get stuff done, I’m realizing how random and mis-organized is the Google sphere. Smaller learning and sharing communities are the future. And they won’t be free either.

More to come, once I dump the cache.




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Last winter I worked on an assignment for two of the world’s biggest brands (pat on back); one an ad agency, the other a software company.  And I used the following quote from Larry Ellison to help make my point about the logged and tagged workforce:                                                 

“If you want to go faster and you want a
system that is more reliable, you have to
be willing to spend less.”

Larry Ellison, Oracle, 9/10

Because of technology and the powerful corporate drive to improve shareholder value, the once invaluable knowledge worker is more easily replaced in American business.  Those owners of corporate history, those who understand, live and propagate the culture, those who have seen good times and bad, are no longer a company’s strength. Their work product, however, still lives at these companies. Behind the fire wall. 

Why?  Because if you have a log-in at a company and your work is tagged (searchable); any goober behind the firewall can come along and access it. Your replacement. A freelancer. An intern.

Salesforce.com, perhaps the most successful enterprise software product of our time, is based upon the logged and tagged workplace. And it’s brilliant. It is not only a repository for all company sales data, it is a platform for the “logged in” to work more efficiently.

This is no screed against technology. Or against two-tier pay levels. No poo-pooing of freelance nation here.  This is progress and we have to learn to manipulate it to our advantage. My recently graduated daughter has two jobs. One, at a low-ish annual wage, is for the benefits and experience. The other, at a restaurant, is for beer money. Were she really working the new economy and the logged and tagged workforce, she might have 3 jobs. And make more and in less time.

These are exciting times. We need to see trends like the “logged and tagged workforce” and exploit them before our neighbors.  Have at it people! Peace.

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