Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Telecommuting and the marketplace transition to the telecompany 5 – hybrid business models

This is my fifth posting to a series in which I outline and discuss a new and emerging business approach that is coming to have tremendous impact, and both on marketplaces and economies and on how we do business, and on individual employees as they plan for and carry out careers (see Outsourcing and Globalization, postings 48 and following for Parts 1-4.) And this is where I finally begin to explain why I have stated from the beginning of this series, and in present tense that the approach I am writing about here is (currently) “coming to have tremendous impact.”

So far I have primarily been focusing in my analysis and discussion on two distinct business models that can lead to the telecompany:

• The costs constraint telecompany model, with its focus on limiting fixed operating expenses, and
• The shifting opportunities-oriented telecompany model with its focus on capturing short-term and transient opportunity.

And I have focused on those two approaches as pure play implementations where as a single, coherent operational and strategic approach, a business is strictly and exclusively following one or the other of these business models (see Part 3 for a more detailed discussion of the costs constraint model and Part 4 for the shifting opportunities-oriented model.)

I have in that, focused on where current emerging trends are leading. Here I note that these approaches are still primarily being pursued as strategic options and as components of larger business systems – parts of larger business models that also include elements that call for maintaining in-house staffing. And in this case, large amounts of the workforce at a business at any one time might be working in accordance with a more telecompany approach but the business itself is not strictly speaking a telecompany – at least yet and it does not see itself as being a telecompany either.

This approach however, is already important for its prevalence and impact as a side strategy that is increasingly becoming mainstreamed, and certainly for the better known, cost constraints approach. And the implementation of that form of telecompany approach has become a source of political and socioeconomic contention too, as the spread of telecompany-based strategy as a utilized approach has contributed significantly to creating our seemingly jobless economic recovery from the Great Recession in countries like the United States. And it has led to even greater and more sustained unemployment in countries and regions such as the European Union during this same period.

This posting is about mixed and hybrid strategies and business models, and the reimagining and partitioning of the overall workforce and employer needs according to which employment strategy would make the most economic sense and for which job descriptions to be filled.

Stated as a set of strategic decision questions, from a hiring perspective should a given position be filled according to:

• A cost constraints approach, and according to the logic that there are always more potential hires looking for that specific work, who would in effect compete down what they would ask for in compensation?
• A shifting opportunities approach where costly or not, specialized skills and experience are needed and at a high priority, but only short-term and/or periodically and as a business standard for how it hires in general?
• A more traditional in-house employee approach?
• A more traditional consultant and outsourcing approach that focuses on identifying specific limited ranges of tasks that would best be farmed out, but from the business context of in-house employment as their norm?

I would argue that we are in a transition stage in all of this in which businesses are discovering new balances of implementation, and as such expanding out the overall available universe of business model approaches in use that can be tapped into, in creating value and profit. And the range of pure play business models – models following just one of these employment strategy approaches, is expanding and will continue to do so.

And especially going through this transition period, implementation of even partial telecompany approaches, and certainly cost constraint model approaches will drive a great deal of societal and workforce discontent, and certainly for those who feel themselves dislocated from being pigeon holed into career paths that companies could hire as freelancers and part time employees.

As a final thought here, I see us collectively facing a transition as we proceed into the 21st century, that in many ways mirrors the changes in overall economy, in career demographics and in societal world view that we historically experienced going through the first and second industrial revolutions and the farm to factory movement of the early 20th century (see for example, “From Farm to Factory: Transitions in Work, Gender, and Leisure at Banning Mill, 1910–1930s”.) And we are still in the beginning and early stages of this current telecompany transition and with a great deal still to come.

I am going to finish this series at least for now with this posting but I will continue to post on issues that closely align with and relate to those I have been discussing here. In fact as I first stated in Part 1 of this series, in a fundamental sense everything in this blog connects here as one of my core focal points. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at:

Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 2 (as a supplemental posting),
Outsourcing and Globalization and
Macroeconomics and Business.

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