Cloud

CoolTimeLife Podcast: Go Back to Freelancing? I’m not Feeling the Burn

This blog comprises show notes for my CoolTimeLife podcast entitled Go Back To Freelancing? I’m Not Feeling the Burn. It discusses the gig economy and the future of work, of which freelancing will play an even larger role. People who mock it have a surprise coming. It is the future of work, and it’s one of the most secure career paths you can choose.

Let me start with an insult. I remember reading a comment someone made online about – well you know I can’t even remember what the comment was about. But I remember the burn. Some troll disagreed with the writer’s comment and wrote in reply, “go back to freelancing.” I remember being initially confused by this remark. What was wrong with freelancing? What did he mean by that? I have been essentially freelancing my entire career, and I feel I’ve done pretty well. What was the stigma that this troll was trying to push? That freelancing isn’t real work? That you only freelance if you can’t find a proper job?

I questioned the troll’s comments from three perspectives. The first was my own experience: two and a half decades of adventure, meeting new customers, devising new products and solutions, setting my own calendar and career path. Exhilarating and rewarding. Never dull or repetitive. What could be better than that?

Then I thought of the other freelancers I know. They, too, never stop improving their product. They are masters at finding work. They might change customers from month to month, but the work never stops for those who know how to find it. It’s job security anchored by your own talents and motivations, not those of an HR department.

Thirdly, I thought of the people I had met during one of my long-term contracts, where I taught groups of recently fired executives how to cope with the depression of job loss and the resulting loss of their identity. These people were truly at sea, with no compass and no hope. This is what happens when people get buried in their salaried jobs and allow no time for the entrepreneurial networking that is at the heart of freelancing. They don’t know who they are, and they don’t know where to go, because they never built the safety net that every freelancer owns. That’s why I wrote my third book, which is entitled, “Is This the Day I Get Fired?”

Go back to freelancing. Did that comment reveal a deep-seated fear held by the writer, who like most other bullies, projects his insecurities on those he tries to intimidate?

Well, I have news for that bully as well as everyone else, including worried parents, who fear that freelancing is not as secure as a career job or a unionized job. Not only is it more secure, since the power of mobility and self sufficiency rests with the individual rather than their employer, it is also the future of work. I remember a comment that a guest speaker once said at a networking session I was hosting: He said, “the chief difference between a salaried employer and a contractor is that a contractor knows when his or her last day is, and can do something about it.

We are in an age of profound transformation. Technology continues to change jobs and indeed make many of them redundant. It balances this out by creating new jobs in their place, as well as making it possible for networking and freelancing to flourish. But to anyone who grew up watching Dad and/or Mom leave the house every day at 7:00 a.m. and return home at suppertime year in and year out it becomes difficult to envision any other lifestyle, regardless how secure it ultimately is.

The Future of Work: The Gig Economy

Heavy hitters like RBC and McKinsey have publicly declared the following facts, for the benefit of employers and experts who are carefully watching the changing world of work:

McKinsey and Co. has stated:

  • 60% of all occupations have at least 30% of activities that are technically automatable.
  • Automation could affect 50% of the world economy

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) envisions:

  • 4 million Canadian job openings in the next three years, of which
  • 50% will undergo a skills overhaul.

The skills that will be required include soft skills such as critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, empathy and social perceptiveness. The ways in which these will be learned will be more about lifelong learning in place of traditional linear education.

But to take this even further, consider these three rather stunning facts delivered recently at the World Economic Forum.

1.) Less than a decade from now, by 2027, the majority of the U.S. workforce will be freelance.

2.) Artificial Intelligence and robotics will create more jobs, not mass unemployment as long as we responsibly guide innovation.

3.) Cities will compete against each other to attract top talent, as they see economic ecosystems grow and flourish.

Image courtesy of UpWork

These comments were made by Stephane Kasriel, who is CEO of UpWork, one of the largest and most successful freelancing websites around. It would be easy to assume he has a vested interest in saying such things, being the boss of a company directly dependent on the fulfilment of this vision.

But it is important to recognize that freelancing is not a cottage industry. Large multinational companies like Pfizer and Samsung are part of this rising breed of enterprises that have turned online to find freelancers.

And there are others out there, looking for highly specialized talent and paying well for it. One of these is Innocentive, a company that “enables organizations to put their unsolved problems and unmet needs, which are framed as ‘Challenges’, out to the crowd to address.” In other words, it is seeking innovation through crowdsourcing; putting the bounty on a solution. Maybe it’s an industrial challenge, like how to get toothpaste into a differently designed tube, or how to economically prevent oil from freezing when stored in cold climates. You would think large companies would have all the engineering brilliance it needs to solve these problems from the inside, but sometimes they just don’t.

Very often I win writing or project management contracts from companies who have all the right people already in-house. The problem is the backlog. It might take six months to appear on these peoples’ radar, and the client needs something done now.

Similarly, it’s those experts on the outside, the ones who must stay constantly ahead of the knowledge curve, who are the ones who come with the solution, more quickly and more cost effectively.

It’s the As-A-Service Economy

Let me draw a parallel distinction. Companies the world over have, over the past few years, become familiar with cloud, and with it, related technologies such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. What are these innovations doing for them? Far more than simply storing your data. The accessibility and data flow that these technologies have enabled has given rise to the as-a-service industry.  Where once companies shipped boxes of their products to their customers, they now see the value in many cases of actually giving the basic physical product for free, and then monetizing the services needed to support it, along with the data that becomes collectible.

Individual consumers see this daily when they use their computers. Products like Microsoft Office used to arrive in a box and required individual installation from disks. But now, Microsoft, and all other software applications are subscription based.  Sometimes even free. The manufacturers are responsible for testing and upgrading and they do so remotely via your internet connection.

The same principle applies to every other as-a-service enterprise, which is what makes cloud storage and security so attractive and practical in the first place. The supplier stays responsible for the upkeep of quality. It need no longer remain in house, where it might be prone to delays and budget cuts.

So, back to the workforce. I can speak from direct experience, when I teach new topics to a group of employees, they admit that they spend so much time closeted away, working on the internal problems of the moment, they never get the chance to look up and around at what the outside world is doing.

This becomes one of the key value propositions of the as-a-service freelancer. Just like cloud providers and software manufacturers, the freelancer is responsible for maintaining the skills and knowledge that a company needs. And now, with direct and immediate communication and the capacity for working remotely, there is no reason for them to ever physically visit the company’s brick and mortar operations if need be.

None of this is truly new. There have been freelancers for centuries. The very word freelance denotes a mercenary fighter whose weapons, including their lance, were available to whoever wanted to hire them. They weren’t free from a price perspective, but they were free from fealty to any specific lord, king, or country.

Companies have long outsourced work to other countries – call centers and tech support, for example – and even the notion of as-a-service machinery has its roots in leasing and rental programs.

But it’s more now. We have passed a tipping point. As-a-service is more than just leasing. It is about servicing, maintenance and aftermarket opportunities that go well beyond any physical machine. And freelancing is far more than hiring warm bodies to cover peak periods.

Freelancing is a new type of work, fueled by communications and data technologies that help bring customer and supplier together more efficiently. According to a study commissioned by Upwork, half of the millennial generation is already freelancing.

There is an inherent security in the freelancing business, reinforced by the ever-present reminder that you are personally responsible for your future. This might strike many as the opposite of security. After all, how can that compare to the permanence of a salaried position, especially when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage? But ask any salaried employee what their biggest fear is: it’s losing their job. And that is not a healthy way to live.

So, back to the insult that started this monologue. “Go back to freelancing.” Many people reveal their own fears in the insults and swear words they use against others. As I tell my audiences, I have been looking for work for 25 years now. And I keep finding it. It’s always interesting, it always adds something to my skillset, and it always keeps me in demand. It called, colloquially, the gig economy, and it is the future of work.

This is the transcript of the CoolTimeLife podcast entitled Go Back to Freelancing? I’m not Feeling the Burn. If you would like to listen to it, you can check it out at our podcast site here. If you would like to review other podcasts in this series, visit my podcast page at stevenprentice.com/podcast.html

If you feel you derived value from this blog or the adjoining podcast, please consider supporting our work by sending a small donation of $1.00, $2.00 or $5.00. It helps us give more time to research and prepare the episodes. The secure PayPal link is available on the podcast page at steveprentice.com/podcast.html.

The Need for Experienced Cloud Security Professionals

My blog post for cloud security firm (ISC)2 , entitled, Competing Cloud Security Demands Call For Credentialed Professionals is available for review at CloudTweaks.com. Based on interviews with security experts, the post discusses why it is critical that cloud security experts come with years of experience to handle the challenges of security online.  Click here to read.

CloudTweaks

Uber’s Surge Pricing Model And Free Market Economics

This blog post, written for KPMG , entitled, The Surge Pricing Model And Free Market Economics is available for review at CloudTweaks.com. This post proposes that the dynamic nature of pricing under the Uber model might work in surprising ways for B2B purchasers who do not update their procurement processes.  Click here to read.

CloudTweaks

The Bitcoin-Blockchain Centerless Economy

This blog post, written for HP’s Business Value Exchange , entitled The ‘Centerless’ Economy is available for review at CloudTweaks.com. The post proposes that the engine behind BitCoin, called the BlockChain, will have a huge impact on every area of life that involves transactions and records – which means pretty much everything. Click here to read.

CloudTweaks

The Internet of Everything and Africa

In addition to my own posts, I also write for CloudTweaks, an authority on cloud computing. Cloudtweaks is currently working with Cisco, who have released and exciting new thought leadership platform called InnovateThink. I have been asked to contribute some material to this project, and it is an honor to do so.

My most recent article looks at the way that the connected technologies of the Internet of Everything are making changes in the lives and economiesof Africans, who have long struggled to keep pace amid war, poverty and difficult weather. I hope it is appropriate. I would love feedback (positive or negative) from people who lived in, or have lived in an African nation, and who perhaps have experienced change through technology.  Here is an excerpt:

Digital banking, for example, has freed workers in places such as Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Soweto, from the dangers of carrying cash through lawless areas, as well as allowing them easier and safer transfer of funds to relatives with lower remittance fees and the elimination of the need for physical travel. Cellphone-based banking has also cut down on corruption and illegal “dipping” made by employers. The dual benefit of cloud-based money transfer not only assists individuals in keeping their cash safe, but stands also to coax wary Africans from storing their savings under their mattresses – an amount estimated to be the equivalent of two billion dollars in South Africa alone. Additional funds feeding the banking sector hold the promise to trickle through to the establishment of stronger commercial sectors and social programs.

With the agricultural sector currently accounting for seventy percent of Africa’s total employment and thirty percent percent of its GDP, technological innovations in areas such as drought prediction, low-cost machinery for quickly draining flooded fields, smartphone apps that assist with the health of herd cattle, or point-of-sale transactions and supply chain management are the first steps towards growing the economies of African countries, moving them towards stability and greater competitiveness on the world stage.

To read the full article, please visit CloudTweaks here.

IDG-DELL Article on Choose Your Own Device (CYOD)

In addition to my own posts, I also write for CloudTweaks, an authority on cloud computing. I was asked by Cloudtweaks clients IDG and DELL  to write a quick blog which will become part of their End-To-End Solutions group on LinkedIn.  My topic is the shift from BYOD to CYOD in the corporate, cloud-based workspace. Here is an excerpt:

This dilemma – how to satisfy and engage employees while still protecting corporate assets is being answered by a new trend – a hybrid in and of itself – between the open market of BYOD and the more rigid, traditional world of company-issued laptops and phones. In this new approach, employers make available a range of devices that vary in terms of brand and functionality, and which have been fully loaded and prepared, in terms of virus/malware protection, network access and secure compatibility with the company’s network and cloud management structure. These devices are offered as a selection from which the employees are allowed to make a selection. This concept is called choose your own device (CYOD), and many industry watchers are confident that this will soon eclipse BYOD as a milestone in smart mobility management.

To read the full article, click here.

 

The Internet of Everything and Corporate Life

July 17, 2014

In addition to my own posts, I also write for CloudTweaks, an authority on cloud computing. Cloudtweaks is currently working with Cisco, who have released and exciting new thought leadership platform called InnovateThink. I have been asked to contribute some material to this project, and it is an honor to do so.

My seventh article looks at the way that corporations – business of any size – can leverage the technologies and processes within the Internet of Everything to learn more about employees’ hidden talents, and to tailor jobs and tasks more closely to their abilities.  Here is an excerpt:

How, for example, could a regional manager identify a great candidate who is both willing and able to take on a new and risky project? How might the skills required – leadership, comfort with risk, diligence, delegation, discipline – be truly demonstrated? Social media sites such as Facebook are natural places to discover such abilities, not through overt verbal job titles, but through actual real-life proof. For example, consider an employee who reveals on her Facebook site that she loves to scuba dive and is certified to teach scuba to others. The connection between the ability to lead people through risky behavior in this way might not show up on a traditional personality assessment or performance review, but it is evident in her real life activities.

How about those individuals who are natural communicators? The ones who, for whatever reason, everyone turns to in order to get things done? Not because they are workaholics, but because they have a natural ability to network, to put people in touch with other people, to move, shake and make things happen? Technology that identify these types of people as well as fostering the same types of connective behavior in others will strongly assist in breaking down silos and enhancing the productivity and profitability potential of a company or department.

To read the full article, please visit CloudTweaks here.

The Internet of Everything and the Public Sector

July 10, 2014

In addition to my own posts, I also write for CloudTweaks, an authority on cloud computing. Cloudtweaks is currently working with Cisco, who have released and exciting new thought leadership platform called InnovateThink. I have been asked to contribute some material to this project, and it is an honor to do so.

My sixth article looks at the way governments, or more precisely the public sector are taking advantage of the The Internet of Everything to deliver new services to its citizens. Here is an excerpt:

If you live in Chicago and you want to know when the street sweeper is coming around so you can move your car and avoid getting a ticket, well, there’s an app for that. It’s a simple yet elegant solution produced by one of an army of app developers that the city’s public service has engaged to capitalize on the ever-growing usefulness of the Internet of Everything, defined by Cisco as the juncture of people, process, data and things.

Traditionally the public sector has been maligned as a place and mindset that is far from the cutting edge, with bureaucracy and partisan politics dominating. But increasingly an opposite perspective can be seen. Given the enormity and variety of the responsibilities held by government, the constant scarcity of funds, combined with increased calls for transparency and accountability, the opportunities offered by the connected technologies of the Internet of Everything are both appealing and fiscally prudent.

To read the full article, please visit CloudTweaks here.

 

My take on cloud computing for business, for Mint.com

MintRecently I was interviewed by online personal finance powerhouse Mint.com. The topic: cloud computing for business. It is always a great honour to be called upon to discuss such matters. A short excerpt is below. The content is (c) Mint.com.

It’s hard to believe that just five years ago not many people outside the tech world knew anything about cloud computing. Wikipedia only had a couple of sentences about it, and not too many websites were discussing it either.

So Steve Prentice and his colleagues decided to cash in on what they suspected would be game-changing technology by creating CloudTweaks, a site devoted to educating business leaders, entrepreneurs and techies about cloud-based technology.

“We knew that this was going to be a high-growth industry with lots of interest due to the online accessibility and low costs of SaaS and cloud computing,” Steve says. “This is when we decided that it was a good time to start to educate CEOs CTOs, governments and students on the subject, and we have not looked back since.”

Their gambit has paid off. Today, everywhere you look there are references to cloud computing, and CloudTweaks has continued to position itself as a highly regarded source of industry news.

We recently checked in with Steve, a senior writer at CloudTweaks, to learn a little cloud 411 and find out how the technology can help business owners. Here’s what he had to say:

To read the full article on the Mint.com website, please click here.