Sparks from a sparkler

Exploring the World at Work

We are living in a very exciting time in which technology and global delivery is directly affecting our world at work and requiring us to rethink how we can better deliver our services and solutions. A global labor shortage exists. It is a challenge to find the correct resources within the appropriate cost structure in a timely manner. Two significant labor trends are making us adapt and challenge traditional delivery models to meet these business challenges. By the way, “delivery” for this discussion can be pretty much anything. It can be the implementation of a content management system, production of marketing copy, or translation of a website.

The first trend is the microtransaction. My earlier post discussed the microtransaction is slowly impacting everything we do. It is important to expand that concept to the labor market and how we align our resources to support the microtransaction. The second trend is global specialization. Global specialization is the alignment of in-country resources to provide a specialized service, often at lower cost. Let’s explore each of these trends in more detail, focusing specifically on the workforce component.

The microtransaction from a labor perspective defines a series of specific individual and potentially specialized tasks that can be performed at various capacity thresholds by various individuals. The benefit of this model is that you have great potential to increase your capacity, reduce delivery time, and reduce cost if you can assemble a group of suppliers (a “crowd” that can readily provide this labor function). This is today’s crowdsourcing model, and it is here to stay. Challenges do exist with managing your crowd, training your crowd, and establishing the required quality thresholds, but it is a growing model. Successful organizations will find a way to weave this model into their delivery approaches.

Global specialization is the natural extension to the traditional off-shore model but provides a different degree of labor focus. Different regions have specific labor focuses. India is strong in some technologies and the Ukraine in others; the Philippines provides strong English-based authoring skills. We need to start thinking about where we can engage specialized resources at a different price points around the globe. This model has its challenges. Tight coordination is required to manage multiple regional labor sources. Quality needs to be preserved and the language requirements need to be well defined.

How do we take advantage of these trends? We must challenge our existing thinking. Instead of thinking, “We need to hire an X resource” or “We need to find a Y developer”, start asking, “Can this task be broken into smaller tasks?” or “Where is the best place to deliver this skill?” The labor shortage is real. We can spend cycles trying to find the ideal person locally or adjust to these trends and expand our labor potential globally.