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 »

14% of UK’s workforce is now self employed!

According to data published by the Daily Telegraph today 14% of UK’s workforce is now self-employed. And this excludes all those second jobbers and moonlighters which, as I mentioned in my recent interview on the BBC ,  is in fact the highest growing sector within PeoplePerHour’s community of 350,000 freelancers .

According to data published by the Office of National statistics there are now 367,000 more people who are self-employed than there were in 2008.

I commented both to the Telegraph and the Guardian today on what’s driving that growth. The recession is not the driver of change, it has been the catalyst. In a recent poll we conducted on PeoplePerHour, more than a third said the reason was to get a better work-life balance, and a quarter said it was to pursue a hobby or passion.

Freelancing is not a recessionary fad. It’s a structural change in the labour market. As in many step changes in the economy over the last century, recession has been a great catalyst and awakening call to accelerating that change.

The next wave of internet startups

The last decade has seen the birth and rise of internet behemoths dominating markets: eBay in second hand good, Amazon in commerce, Facebook in social media, Google in search etc.

It’s been a game of scale and winner takes all. Now there’s talk of Web 3.0 and big data.

I think the next wave of the internet will be about descaling  to address an increasingly discerning and sophisticated user. The next generation of successes will be the ones that pick and verticalise these behemoths bringing more choice and more personalization to the customer.  Focusing on quality content and taste rather than scale and.

And the reason is simple. Consumers want choice.  Sounds obvious. How is that different to 10 years ago you may ask?continue reading »