There is nothing ’emerging’ about emerging markets

I am still shocked that most people in America and generally Western Europe don’t get that today there is nothing ‘emerging’ about ‘emerging markets’. Other than legacy terminology. What we call ‘emerging’ are economies which are some of the most cash-rich, innovative, fast-moving and have some of the best educational systems in the world. And if we don’t wake up and smell the coffee, we will all work for them very soon. Samsung employees over 270,000 people, is world leader in products the majority of Korea couldn’t even afford 10 years ago and today they sell more of them than anyone in the world (phones & TVs included). The world is moving incredibly fast and we are still tied to outdated terms like emerging markets. Let’s wake up!

The importance of the knowledge economy in solving long term unemployment

Elaine Pofeldt wrote this great piece Is Your Next Great Gig in Indiain Forbes yesterday after a long discussion we had about how, in the midsts of long term dwindling exports with competition from low cost production in the East, western economies should be turning their focus to finding new sources of competitiveness.

I believe that one such source is the knowledge economy. And what underpins that in turn is our education system, the liberal arts and culture. Things which are harder to replicate overnight.

And so without realizing it i think there is a whole ‘export economy’ under our nose waiting to explode. The internet now empowers people to sell their creativity, their artistry, their numeracy  skills, research, writing skills and so much more we take for granted, to entrepreneurs and businesses out in the emerging markets where some of those skills are in short supply. Not all, but some.

I see this somewhat a nano version of the traditional hiring of management consultants like the McKinseys of this world, which much like the skills that i refer to above, are again a franchise of the US eductaion system. This is of course a gross simplification but in essence they commoditized the ‘Harvard MBA’ and exported it the world over transferring best practice of the American corporation at the top end of the food chain.continue reading »

The death of the Corporation

The freelance economy now accounts for over one in three people in the working population. That’s over a trillion dollars in the UK and US markets alone.  Over $1bn per annum is spent today online in hiring and paying for freelancers a figure which is projected to grow to $5bn within the next 3-5 years according to Industry analysts.

Most people associate the move to this new way of working as a drive to cut costs and be more flexible. All of which is true. However, I believe the biggest benefit of this new way of working is not in cost cutting, and I make the case here by drawing on our own experience at PeoplePerHour of eating our own cooking. The biggest benefits of freelance working  – if implemented correctly – are a drastic increase in productivity.  I argue here that what drives that in turn are two things: 1) hyperspecilization ie breaking traditional more generalist jobs down to smaller ones and hiring people who are experts and super focuses on those jobs, anywhere in the world, to execute them , and 2) accountability.  Which comes from transforming the traditional employer- employee relationship to one of  service provider – client.continue reading »

The future of the labour market

In the past 5 years or so we’ve seen the creation of a $1Bn new market, one that’s been given numerous names. From crowdsourcing, to online outsourcing, online marketplacs and workspaces. Fundamentally its about the democratization of labour, Its about the empowerment of people to provide their skill in bite-sized quantities, on demand, across time zones, geographic barriers and to  multiple vendors.continue reading »

The Globalisation of a cottage Industry

I recently write this post as a guest author on the Huffington Post blog, also shared below


As final year students are in the last stages of their degree, they could be forgiven for wondering why they are even bothering. The latest UK statistics make grim reading with half of last year’s graduates either jobless or underemployed. In the current economic climate that seems like a raw deal for anyone, let alone someone carrying the burden of student loans. But is employment that desirable? Technology is transforming the workplace and our notion of the 9-to-5 job, to the extent that by the time these guys graduate the last thing they may want is gainful employment.

Thanks to the internet and crowdsourcing it’s easier than ever to become an entrepreneur. Gone is the traditional business ecology, which catered only for large organizations. In its place is emerging an infrastructure streamlined for the micro-business. And just as Twitter sporned the citizen journalist, this new digital business ecosystem is giving rise to citizen entrepreneur where anyone can set up their own business.continue reading »

The New Wave of British Exports

I wrote this piece recently in a column i contribute to for the Huffington Post link

In the past year we’ve seen the amount of time UK freelancers are selling their services to companies abroad (and in particular to far Eastern countries) more than double on PeoplePerHour. You’d think that these are specialist services from the upper echelons of our labour force. But they are not. They are skills that the average middle class Brit has, thanks largely to our education system. Skills like writing good English copy, organizational task, helping a small business to basic math or data management, voiceovers, and some more specialised skills like design and technical development work

These services ‘exported’ to the fledgling SMB sector in less developed countries is a reflection of a basic macro-economic principle: what’s in abundance in some countries is scarce in others. The Western economies like the UK may have some of the most sophisticated medical systems, militaries and – once although dwindling – manufacturing infrastructures. What is often overlooked, is that we also have is a middle class that’s more educated than most economies across the world. The middle class is what emerging economies are in need of the most in order to trickle down their new-found wealth to small and medium sized businesses – which, lo and behold, become the backbone of a developed economy.continue reading »

A deeper dive in the cause of the Cyprus problem

This article eloquently describes how the Eurobanks played Cyprus knowing what was coming well ahead of the 1 week notice given to the President. Granted the Cyprus politicians – and more so i would say the leaders of the troubled banks – should have no doubt acted faster seeing their deposits shrink in particular withdrawals from the Eurobanks which are the more sophisticated investors and the highest dependency to banking stability. But the fact doesn’t change, Eurobanks played Cyprus and our ignorant leaders to maximise profit and generated ‘free money’ as the article puts it. They are the clear winners of the situation. The losers: Cypriot depositors.

The Globalisation of a cottage industry

I recently wrote a guest post for Huffington Post which i’d like to share with you : link

The future of work


Work as we know it traditionally is changing. And the big driving forces behind it are three in my opinion: 1) big data, 2) pervasive computing and 3) people’s innate desires to be liberated and in control of their own destiny

The last of course is not new, but technology and in particular the first two I mentioned are the catalysts of change that make it happen. But its important to note that technology doesn’t change our human nature; it just empowers it.

Pervasive computing is a concept that’s been around since the 90’s but its only really now with the consumerisation of smart-phones, and the massive data pool accessible in the cloud that it becomes realitycontinue reading »

The startup network effect and Al Gore’s gaping hole

In SWSX last weekend I watched a very passionate talk by Al Gore where he spoke mostly about (guess what?) global warming, nicely mixed in with a bit about his book on (guess what?)  global warming, and a bit more about his book and global warming !

His main thesis is that we should put a tax on carbon to ‘internalise the externality’, in economic jargon terms. An externality is where a free market fails to allocate resources according to their true cost or benefit. In other words there are ‘external’ costs or benefits that the system doesn’t cater for so we have market failure. Adam Smith’s invisible hand is hacked.

Of course this theory is not new. The big question is measuring that externality and implementing the right fixes  in tax policy which in practice is no small feat. And doing it without hampering long term growth.

But speaking of externalities – and at SWSX no less ironically – no mention was made by Mr. Gore of the external benefits today’s startups bring to the economy. That if anything is the mother of all externalities and so much more relevant to the audience. Startups today add a hell of a lot more value to the ecosystem than the collective value to their individual stakeholders (employees, customers and shareholders). There is a knock-on effect and a symbiosis, which created a startup community we could have never dreamt of even 5 years agocontinue reading »