Timothy Vasko

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The Death of Employer/Employee Paradigm in the Digital Age

August 3, 2016 19:21

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Need to grab a ride easier than the outdated taxi system allowed?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.

Patents, PDAs and Pills

February 22, 2006 06:01

In the recent, very publicized events surrounding Research In Motion's (RIM) struggles on patents for their popular BlackBerry devices in the United States (where even the US Government claims special rights or "statement of interest" in the fight), the Supreme Court of the US refused to hear the NTP v. RIM patent case. The count down to the "end result" is rapidly approaching, February 24, 2006, and the issues are still in hot debate -- will the doors for BlackBerry in the USA remain open?

In the bid for the U.S. Justices to take on the case at the Supreme Court Level, Intel (a complete outsider) entered an appearance and brief ex parte, to request that the United States Justices define the scope of U.S. patent law. Of course, the implications of such a decision would affect much more than the BlackBerry case; maybe this bench is just not ready for another decades long debate ala Roe v. Waid. However, as the global market becomes more aware, more connected, and more active as a global village, you can bet that this issue will have to be addressed.

When it comes to the BlackBerry patent issue, as highlighted by Intel's pleading, the extension into the world of a competitive capitalist market extends to many critical areas beyond technology and e commerce. Consider the protections around medications that provide the patented watershed of profits for the pharmaceutical companies (see blog "Medications, Canada & Ideology"). Capitalism has already proven a winner over the collective state-run governments of the Soviet Union and its satellites. China, a "communist" country, is booming with capitalist fervor; so this idea of patents and protections that maintain the bureaucracy of major corporations and can stifle innovation must be a topic for governments and must continue towards transition and growth for everyone's sake.

If we embrace innovation, we need a better method of supporting it as positive change occurs within business and new invention, convergence and opportunity rapidly emerges. Rather than denying that the issue exists, giving half truths and half solutions (which legal battles always are), let's deal with these issues by revising the system of patents, and making them better. This is as fundamentally critical to human rights today as desegregation was in the 60's. Aren't freedom of communication and health care among our core principles? Then why should the segregation of access to these core tenets of living be protected by outdated patent laws? In the case of BlackBerry, the media reports are pretty clear. But in the case of medications, driven through the corporate PR, the media has taken positions (e.g. "....medications are in short supply in Canada..."), while glazing over or completely ignoring the fundamentals that have changed the way the world is evolving through technology and the patents that are really at the root of controlling supply. We need a system that can continue to drive forward innovation and protect that right for intellectual property, while leveling the playing field on production and access. We have dealt with cultural-based inequities -- now it's time to look at a better system for preventing inventive-based inequities when a product or service that has core human benefit is created. Profits, yes, I'm all for them -- but at the cost of human rights to health care access? And even my BlackBerry as well? A line needs to be drawn.

Once discovered, medications can be manufactured in our plentiful society with virtually no limit to the compounding of abundant raw materials, and this should breed availability without "elite status" to gain access. Sure, there are pre-cursor chemicals that may be difficult to get, but those are rare. Medications are not in short supply; creative ways of providing health care and making it accessible -- this is what is in short supply.

You can bet the next big global challenge and change will be the around these issues of protection, capitalization and management of profits from Intellectual Property. The era of the new profit model derived from innovation and ideas is here. Let's hope this is pushed beyond the age-old patent laws and systems that allow companies to legally purchase technologies such as IP (ala NTP) and then sit on that technology, waiting for an innovative company to take the steps, risks and struggles to commercialize a good idea -- and then like barnacles, latch onto real entrepreneurial risk takers as they sail the seas of uncertainty, looking for a free ride to the shores of profits.

The often quoted (or misquoted) advice of Patent Director Charles H. Duell when he called for the closing of the patent office in 1899, that "Everything that can be invented has been invented," warrants further contemplation and investigation. Perhaps Mr. Duell was calling for a reform of the patent system even 107 years ago. We don't really know what Mr. Duell intended in his statement -- in fact, it is the subject of some debate, -- but one thing is for certain: the issue of how to model patents is front and center, and it will likely finance many an IP attorney's child's Ivy League education in the future while we wait for a better way.