Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

On the importance of disintermediating real, 2-way communications in business organizations 10

Posted in social networking and business, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on May 27, 2018

This is my 10th installment to a brief series on coordinating information sharing and communications needs, and information access filtering and gate keeping requirements (see Social Networking and Business 2, postings 275 and loosely following for Parts 1-9.)

Communications and business transactions in general, have least traditionally taken place on an individual to individual basis, and even when a person sending a message or initiating a transactional business event does so as a representative or agent of a larger group or on behalf of another individual. A communication’s intended content might have been crafted by others, at least for its intended content. But if the message sender does more than simply push a button, expressing that message in their own terms and through their own effort, they are actively sending it.

And I add that this individual-to-individual communications paradigm holds when a communicated message is sent out to a group audience as much as it does when it is sent to a single specific individual, as it is individual recipients who actually take in such messages or ignore them, and they individually process them in their own minds and according to their own understandings and their own areas of workplace responsibility and their own agendas there too. Once again, communications remain fundamentally individual-to-individual in nature.

Automation and the increasing incorporation of artificial intelligence-based systems and agents in this overall communications and work process transactional flow, complicate this. When their form of New is added into these transactional systems, agents can no longer be presumed to be independently intelligent and certainly where that would involve general intelligence, and they can no longer be presumed to have anything like free will on their own part in the decisions that they make or the actions that they take. Then, and particularly as matters now stand as far as the state of development of artificial intelligent agents is concerned, they have to be thought of as following the dictates of rigidly circumscribed outcomes-defining algorithms that do not offer higher level (e.g. general intelligence level) flexibility or creativity as options in how they would be carried out, and either for their information inputs or for their consequential actions.

That changing circumstance can apply, of course, to both the sender and recipient side of a putative communication. But for purposes of this posting, and this series, I presume that any such artificial agent involvement can be seen as invoking the involvement of the original starting-algorithm creator at a distance, where these artificial agents act as if surrogates for them. Then the question here is that of business systems friction, where it cannot be possible for such a represented human agent to anticipate or account for in advance, all possible contingencies or types of them that an artificial agent representing them might realistically have to carry out the terms of its algorithm(s) within. So I make note of these emerging realities here, and both to set them aside for the moment and to predict that a time is coming when an artificial agent versus human agent distinction will become moot, as far as capacity to make internally sourced and arrived at, independent decisions and actions are concerned. Then, the points that I raise here in this posting and series will apply equally to general intelligence-based agents and whether they are human or artifactual in nature.

All of this noted, I have been writing this series in terms of strictly-human agents. That need not be an entirely valid assumption and even now and it is becoming less and less so every year, and for both communications and for actions that might take place in response to them in a workplace. Nevertheless, the basic principles that I raise and address here, will likely apply across this new and emerging workplace context too. And I presume that most if not all of the key issues raised here will continue to apply as valid then too.

I write this for now, in terms of strictly human agents. And with that starting-point contextual framing for this series and its narrative in place, I continue it here from where I left off at the end of Part 9, where I have been writing of full time in-house employees, and outsider-sourced professional help that would include temps and temp workers, gig workers, outside consultants and others – who might in fact be carrying out essentially the same type of work as their in-house employee counterparts do, and who might be working at and for the same employer long-term, but who are nevertheless still considered to be outsiders and who are treated as such. This means they’re not being eligible for in-house employee benefits, and of a scope and range that just begins with company sponsored and supported healthcare coverage, sick days and vacation days and any retirement-oriented benefits offered.

I have been discussing this dichotomy of employee status and standing in this series and how it also impacts upon the issues of how these outsider employees are included or not, in the contexts of within-company, business communications and information access-driven business processes, and particularly where they involve a need to share and make distributed use of sensitive or confidential information. This distinction shapes how these people as at least nominal outsiders would be compartmentalized and treated in risk management-based information access due diligence systems, and both individually, and categorically as a group. And considering the individual employee versus group distinction just raised there, this means how special exceptions for allowing access to sensitive business intelligence, and a need for these special exceptions would be identified and considered.

I began a discussion of game theory strategies in Part 9, as they would arise and play out in enacting the points of distinction that I have just briefly listed here in this officially in-house versus officially outsider employee context. And I stated at the end of that installment that the basic game strategies in place among stakeholders involved in a business, and at all organizational levels in it:

• Are fundamentally driven by risk and trust assessments (as operationally defined and at least briefly discussed there),
• And as predictive assessments as to the actions that would be taken by individuals under direct consideration here, and others who they deal with, and the consequences of who would and would not be included in these business transactions and how.

And I added that I would proceed from there to at least begin to tie this developing line of reasoning back to the issues of communications in a business with an explicit focus on gig and other short-term and outsider employees, and certainly under circumstances in which hiring and onboarding on these and related bases have become the hiring and terms of employment norm at a business. And I stated that I would at least begin that line of discussion next, citing the more traditional stable place of employment context that this type of gig economy and its patterns of employment are developing from, and coming to supplement if not replace, as a source of contrasting reference points.

Let’s start addressing these topic points by considering a brief set of commonly adhered to fictions: points of assumption that are all but axiomatically assumed and by many still, that were once valid as such and all but universally so and across the wide swath of businesses and industries in place, but that have come to be much less certain and much less reliable as working presumptions, and for an ever-increasing range of the workplace experience:

• Full time, in-house employees enter into a business with an intention of staying there long-term and even throughout at least substantial portions of their work lives. And as such, they take on an active sense of commitment and involvement, as they see any success from working there that would accrue to them, as coming from the ongoing success of this, their employer. They assume a buy-in, proprietary position there in their thinking and take on something of an owner’s mentality, where alignment of their own interests and those of their employer, as they see them, come to be mutually supportive. And businesses that see their employees as at least one of their most valuable overall assets, for their experience and expertise there, take on a more collaborative approach towards those employees and certainly towards the more effective and productive of them, and the more important of them for maintaining the business and its competitive effectiveness moving forward.
• And outside help employees, and of whatever specific sub-type form (e.g. temp or outside consultant among other possibilities) are only going to be brought in to address immediate short-term needs. This might mean a more transient in-house staffing shortage in this business’ capacity to carry out some type of basic work that is more routinely carried out in-house, and where it would not be cost-effective to simply hire in-house to address peak period needs. Or this might mean bringing in specialized skills and experience expertise that might be needed now, but that would not be required on-tap, in-house on a long-term ongoing basis.

The longer an employee is going to be there and the longer they are going to be needed at a business, the more deeply entrenched in that business and its ongoing work flows they become, and both as they more deeply learn the systems there and as they become better known for what they can do and effectively so. And longevity of service there creates opportunity to build a foundation of trust when dealing with these employees from a business perspective, and a matching level of trust from those employees too as their employer demonstrates their appreciation for what these people can do.

Short term help is only brought in for specific task-related purposes, according to the paradigm outlined in the above two bullet points and continued up through this paragraph. And while trust might significantly enter into their carrying out their responsibilities there, it is less likely to become more generalized beyond the constraints of that specific task-based work assignment and in either an employer to employee, or an employee to employer direction. And in a practical manner, this might not matter and certainly as a due diligence consideration, and certainly when a temp or an outside consultant who is brought in to work on some specific task and time limited assignment comes into the business, does their planned out work there and then leaves the business to work elsewhere.

I just laid out a foundation in this posting’s narrative, and certainly in its second half for more fully discussing the issues raised towards the start of this narrative: the basic game strategies in place among stakeholders involved in a business, and at all organizational levels in it as they are driven by risk and trust assessments, and as predictive assessments as to the actions that would be taken by others, and their consequences as would arise from those decisions and actions taken.

• And tying together my more here-and-now and still-just-emerging comments regarding what has come to be called the emerging gig economy,
• And my still all too presumed (long term) in-house employee versus outsider help presumptions.
• What actually is taking place and what is more just assumed for that, begin to fundamentally break away from each other in this, as soon as a driving threshold level of employees are and will remain outsiders and never be brought in-house and as a basic business model decision.
• Or a pattern emerges where outsider employees are in fact brought in longer-term and even on an open-ended basis with an employer but with them remaining outsiders by default,
• Or both.

I will complete this posting’s main discussion thread as developed up to here in my next series installment, at least for purposes of this series. And I will then begin to explicitly tie its developing line of reasoning back to the issues of communications in a business with an explicit focus on gig and other short-term and outsider employees, and certainly under circumstances in which they have become the hiring and terms of employment norm at a business. And I will at least begin that line of discussion in my next series installment, citing the more traditional stable place of employment context that the gig economy and its patterns of employment are developing from, and coming to supplement if not replace, as a source of contrasting reference points. I have touched upon some of this here. I will dig deeper into these issues there and then.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 5, and also at Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 and Page 4 of that directory. And also see Social Networking and Business 2 and that directory’s Page 1 for related material.

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