The future of work and enterprise

Posted on | March 4, 2015 | No Comments

Much of the buzz around new work patterns made possible by the ‘gig’ economy of Uber and Task Rabbit suggests that consumers are beginning to act like companies when it comes to managing their careers and employment. Since the great recession, a significant upswing in part time and independent contract work reflects a convergence of factors enabling users to work when and how they want with mobile technology and cloud-based services. These workers are vital to what’s called the jobless recovery: individuals take on the burden of providing resources they once enjoyed through secure employment with a firm.

Partly this is about choice: BYOD growth in large organizations reflects a similar desire among workers to take responsibility for their own productivity. Younger workers also enjoy the freedom of working on their own terms and technology allows them to do it. Dropbox, Gmail, Skype and Evernote are just some of the tools available for self-motivated individuals to get their work done from any location.

The rise of the personal enterprise – where individuals negotiate with work suppliers to sell their services and make a living – is a major challenge to business models that differentiate between business (enterprise) and consumer sales. There is a third category emerging between the two thanks to consumer-led enterprise innovation.

The enterprise user provides the basis for any number of business decisions in tech. But the biggest companies today (Uber, Google, Facebook) employ fewer people than previous generations of industry. Those that are employed in enterprise settings are increasingly likely to be temporary or piece workers in a global economy of in-sourcing and outsourcing. If there are fewer ‘jobs’, fewer mid-size companies, and fewer employers then this inevitably affects enterprise business. And when non-standard employment is becoming the standard, we have a distinctly new proposition for thinking about the future of work.

Today more and more workers are acting like enterprises: they have multiple partnerships and vendors to keep happy, they need services to synchronize across platforms and devices and locations, and they need reassurance that the range of activities they perform on the same device will not corrupt their livelihood.

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