Chances are, your organization has hired a contractor. It may have been to get access to specialized expertise or to help with a short-term influx of work. What if instead of being the exception or minority in your organization, these were the only kind of work arrangements your company had?
That may be an extreme example, but if the data-driven trend towards always enhancing the customer experience continues on its current trajectory, most organizations and how they structure employment will evolve significantly over the next few years.
This is especially true when considering how organizations will build teams capable of leading innovation efforts. After all, innovation takes a wealth of talent, and not all talent is going to be available in-house.
Consider, for instance, the process of developing and ultimately hitting the market with a new smart home device capable of plugging into the Internet of Things (IoT), and simplifying a consumer’s life. Manufacturers of traditional home technology need software engineers that know how to integrate their solutions with popular home management systems, like Apple HomeKit. And a software company with the integration experience needs some help developing, building and distributing a physical product.
Built in a Flash
The ultimate means of evolution may come from an unexpected realm – crowdsourcing. In a large part, the growing popularity of crowdsourcing is sparking the latest business evolution. While crowdsourced products are often developed to address niche market desires, the reality is that many of the inventors lack the skills to go beyond the prototype phase.
Researchers at Stanford University are working to fill the gap with a software solution they are calling Foundry, discussed in a recent paper that appeared in the Stanford News. “By allowing anyone with an idea to go to an online marketplace, recruit all sorts of different experts on-demand and bring their idea to life in a very short period of time, we’re making innovation – and even potentially entrepreneurship – much more feasible,” said Daniela Retelny, former graduate student fellow in management science and engineering and co-author of the paper.
How does it work? The process essentially starts by briefly planning out the tasks needed whether its design, marketing, engineering manufacturing, or testing. This then serves as blueprint the software utilizes to fills all the positions need with qualified freelance workers in a pre-generated hierarchy. Onboarding is automated: each worker is sent a prospectus of what he’s responsible for, and who he reports to.
Apparently, Stanford is already fielding requests for Foundry with some suggesting that, in addition to supporting flash organizations, it could be used to supplement traditional office work and telecommuting. While, it isn’t publicly available yet, the positive response has encouraged the researchers to continue developing this platform.
While it may sound a little far fetched to have so many disparate team members, consider that almost all of the 10m jobs created since 2005 have been freelance, temp, or on-call opportunities.
Connecting the Dots
As this transient model becomes a widespread reality, organizations will need a way to seamlessly connect all of the disparate pieces. Understandably, this business model needs reliable, quickly scalable, and secure collaboration tools.
Persistent chat, IM and presence, and even voice communications can keep a project moving. And video conferencing tools play a pivotal role in ensuring that these geographically disparate players can act as a seamless, collaborative team.
A video conferencing solution enables people to work when and were it suits their natural work habits without sacrificing the ability to collaborate face-to-face. Not only do 94 percent of organization recognize productivity boosts when embracing video collaboration, it use allows team members to build working relationships regardless of location – a very important factor in a “flash” organization.
Outside of the crowdsourcing world, the flash organization model may be an extreme example – and one that is a few years off from actually being used – but it is an indicator of where we are headed, especially when it comes to turning innovations into realities. While your organization may never completely abandon traditional employment structures, you may see a notable rise in temporary, contract employees and equipping your teams with the right collaboration technology will help you take full advantage of these specialized, short-term resources.