Can we consumerize everything inside businesses?

Brightidea, the innovation platform, has a fall release coming out, and their press release summarizes what’s coming:

New highlights from Brightidea’s Fall 2014 release include:

• Crowdfunding – source financial investment from internal business units to launch key development projects

• Massively Configurable Workflow – design a complete end-to-end process that aligns with your existing innovation use case, whatever it is

• Customizable Fields – full flexibility for administrators to control what user data can be captured, displayed, and reported upon

• New Prioritization Tools – shortlist and select the best ideas, including review, single scale, scorecarding, pairwise comparison, and stack rank

• Enhanced Rules Engine – auto-graduate ideas based on a rule being met

What caught my eye is the first item: internal crowdfunding to get new projects off the ground. That’s an amazing departure from conventional approaches to getting projects going.

In today’s traditional company, funding is handled by some allocation process usually working in a top-down fashion. Top management decides how to spread funds out based on corporate strategy. But how about if money was distributed on some other basis, like headcount, profitability, past successes, or the like. A company could allocate some proportion of funds in this way, and then anyone could propose new initiatives which would be crowdsourced. Perhaps in the most ambitious allocation, every employee would have a digital wallet and each could choose where to invest that capital.

Here’s a screenshot of the crowdfunding interface:

Brightidea_Crowdfunding

Imagine if everything in a company were managed as open marketplaces. First to get them funded, and second to make a marketplace to connect employees with projects, basically providing an internal platform that is something like what Elance-oDesk does for freelancers.

Strangely enough, yesterday at TechCrunch Disrupt I found a company that is trying to do that, called Rallyteam, although the financial side — payment for the services — isn’t taken to the logical conclusion. Rallyteam assumes that employees have a salary, and the work that flows through its platform doesn’t change that. But my vision is that in the future employees might have a base salary for a core job, but that other compensation could be dynamic, based on the internal work market. But obviously we have a transition before that comes to be.

Here’s a screenshot of posted opportunities in Rallyteam:

rallyteam

And zooming in on one of the opportunites:

rallyteam 2

The workflow is pretty obvious: employees apply, their profiles are reviewed, a negotiation ensues, and ultimately someone connects with the work. Later on, Rallyteam supports feedback, with employees gathering indicators of skills gained and whether the work was done well, in a timely fashion, etc.

Basically, this is analogous to the consumerization of work applications and devices: the freelancization of business. Perhaps this is just another step in the walls of business becoming ever more porous. In the near future the distinction between being a full-timer, a part-timer, or a freelancer might become much less obvious.

Jeffrey Leventhal speaks about Work Market and work markets

image

source Heather Walsh via Newsday

Jeffrey Leventhal is the co-founder and CEO of Work Market, a work placeform (marketplace + platform = placeform) company, competing with eLance and others. Jeffrey was formerly CEO and founder of OnForce.com and the CEO & founder at Spinback.

He and I have spoken several times in recent months, and I thought I’d capture a snapshot of what’s going on at Work Market and in the marketplace for work market solutions, in general.

The Interview

Stowe Boyd: The eLance/oDesk merger led to a flurry of news about international and virtual outsourcing, but onsite and local is just as big of a consideration, especially for smaller local businesses, right?

Jeffrey Leventhal: The way businesses access on-demand freelance talent is transforming for both on-site and virtual work for businesses of all sizes and we see it happening all around the world. Onsite/in person is a very important and required aspect of getting work done. I dont think its about small or large businesses – I think they will both leverage on-demand talent and we continue to see a broader range of talent willing to engage in this manner.

SB: What is the fastest growth sector? Small, medium, or large businesses?

JL: From our perspective, the largest market opportunity is with companies that spend $200,000 USD or more per year. Many of our clients spend well into the millions. That’s not to say that small businesses aren’t also moving quickly to an extended workforce model, but freelancers at scale- where we focus– require a different solution than the popular SMB products.

SB: I’ve made the case that work placeforms like Work Market and its competitors are actually filling a void in our economy that in the past might have been filled but government or other institutions, like unions. What’s your take on the role that work placeforms fill in today’s postnormal economy?

JL: Freelance work has been getting done for a long long time. What businesses like work market enable is faster, better access to trusted talent. Businesses can now easily and transparently find great talent, verify skills, engage them, manage work at scale, pay them and maintain history and ratings. We’re automating and growing what has been done. I don’t recall unions being involved in freelance work and the government struggles differentiating between full-time work and contractors.

SB: I meant that unions formerly acted as an intermediary between workers and their employers, and firms like yours are emulating at least some of that role.

JL: We definitely help make a connection and facilitate work. We are also keen on sharing marketplace data with our clients so they have a good sense of what going engagements are for high quality work. Everyone wins with good data transparency.

SB: Market growth for work placeforms is growing. What do you see for the trends in growth and market differentiation?

JL: The market is already large and acceptance is growing across a wide range of businesses. Businesses want variable cost structures and freelancers want to select whom they work for and fit work around a lifestyle. At different points in your career it might make more sense to freelance and at other times full time is great. The idea of a 20 year career seems to be dated and its exciting to be able to leverage placeforms like Work Market and work with several clients at a time. The breadth of experience is really good as well. This trend is bringing out the entrepreneurs inside of all of us.

SB: Thanks for the opportunity to talk.

JL: Thank you as well!

Outsourcing your own job

Businesses contract with freelancers or outside companies to undertake steps in critical business processes. So why can’t individuals do it?

Tax day for independent workers: The best last-minute tips

In honor of tax day, a look through the annual explosion of articles offering tax tips for independent workers, weeding out the obvious and repetitive and highlighting the genuinely helpful, including the SEP IRA and a round about approach to sorting out health insurance.

British small businesses using more independent workers

At Net:Work Gene Zaino of MBO Partners made a bold prediction: Independent workers will be a majority in the U.S. by 2020. Can the same be said in the UK? A new survey offers evidence that at British small businesses freelancing is on the rise.

Work 3.0 is just getting underway, says oDesk’s Gary Swart

Gary Swart, CEO of freelancer sourcing site oDesk took the stage at Net:Work 2011 to talk about how work is changing in the face of remote work trends. He started by pointing to a key competitive determinator all companies seek and must compete for: talent.

Landing good remote workers in an ailing economy

Many digital freelancers earning U.S. dollars are now receiving substantially less for the same work, as their own nations’ currencies gain strength against the U.S. dollar. The rates that U.S. companies offer to remote workers may no longer compete with their local firms.

Pay for web workers: How much should location matter?

Business is all about the bottom line and web work offers new ways to bolster that bottom line. But not everyone sees paying according to the prevailing local wages as without its moral complexities, especially when companies begin to look overseas for additional help.

How to excel in a social media world

Like it or not, these days, if you’re in public, you’d better be comfortable with anything you do being captured and possibly even posted online. I thought I’d provide some tips from the PR industry to help you feel better prepared for those impromptu publicity events.