Since the credit crunch started the phrase 'New Capitalism' has appeared with increasing frequency from the mouths of journalists, pundits and politicians. What does it mean? What are the implications of 'new capitalism' for ki workers?
From my research all I can say is 'new capitalism' is best defined as 'old capitalism'. Yep. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, as Pete Townsend wrote.
I'm sorry, but when three such enthusiastic supporters of unfettered free markets are suddenly converted to 'new capitalism' it brings out the skeptic in me. (And I should add all the views expressed are my own and are not necessarily those of ki work.)
Out of gas
These politicians sound too much like the board of a car company trying to get another year's sales out of an aging model. So they add some chrome, different shaped headlamps and an upgraded stereo system. Now it's 'new'. But under the chrome it's the same old gas-guzzling, inefficient, outmoded vehicle.
'New capitalism' is a way of describing the desperate measures that are being applied to keep the sinking globalized economy afloat. The fond hope of Merkel, Sarkozy and that English bloke is that sufficient patches can be applied to the ship of market capitalism so that it will appear to sail as well as it did a year or so ago. Of course, there's no chance of that.
Their form of 'new capitalism' has as much chance of success as Mikhail Gorbachev's new communism a couple of decades ago.
As politicians they do have an impossible task. They cannot say what everybody else knows. We have no idea what is going to happen to the global economy. Change is the only certainty.
That's why I'm so enthusiastic about ki work and believe me I'm not one of nature's natural evangelists. I'm at heart a cynical old hack ready to see the worst in most things. But I do see the future of my livelihood is through flexibility, adaptability and low capital outlay.
We may not know where the economic system is heading, but we can see some of the forces shaping it. I've been impressed by the work of Harvard's Umair Haque, Director of the Havas Media Lab. He talks of the change from symmetric to asymmetric competition. To over-simplify, capitalism used to revolve around competition between corporate behemoths. Think General Motors versus Ford. Brands such as Coca-Cola took decades to build. Then along comes Google, achieving its position of power and brand with next to no marketing and without attempting to destroy its competition.
I'm slightly disappointed that he chose Google as an example, not that it's inaccurate, but it is another corporation even if it has a very different structure and philosophy compared with its predecessors. Far more interesting to me is the way small businesses can now successfully challenge and beat the big guys.
The strength of the old corporations lay in their size. Now that's what holds them back. Encumbered by debt, real estate and old working practices, they cannot compete with adaptable, flexible and relatively debt-free small businesses.
Join the revolution
That's where ki work comes in. A team of professionals each working from home, linked to colleagues anywhere in the world via the internet, has negligible overheads. As a result they can beat conventional bricks-and-mortar companies on both quality and cost.
Visit ki work's main site and see how you can use our online marketplace to fulfill your project requirements or create your own virtual business as a ki worker.
I know you might say: "It's all just words. What matters is the ki work concept." But words are very important to me, not just because they're how I make my living.
Say I meet somebody in a bar, a cafe or whatever and they ask me what I'm doing. I reply that I'm editing a blog for ki
work. They'll ask: "What's that?" I could say: "Oh, it's a platform for
virtual business process outsourcing." Maybe it's just the company I
keep, but instantly the by-now uninterested party would suddenly
remember an urgent appointment, spot somebody they just had to speak to
or develop an impossibly weak bladder.
Do you see my difficulty?
The erstwhile CEO and founder of ki work Michael Wolff tells me this isn't really a problem as people in the world of outsourcing talk of nothing but BPO or VBPO (obviously that's "business process outsourcing" or "virtual business process outsourcing). Apart from the way it doesn't make outsourcerers
sound as if they're the most exciting people to spend time with, the
terms and acronyms are probably as clear as mud to the average ki worker. Hey, until a few months ago my eyes would have glazed over.
Michael and the other top ki
workers have come up with a couple of other suggestions, most recently
"guerrilla outsourcing". This is actually a very descriptive term for ki work.
warfare involves small groups of lightly armed, highly mobile
combatants challenging better-equipped, but less mobile, conventional
armies. Ki work enables small organizations of highly-flexible online
workers to take on large corporations and win.
I can absolutely see the parallels, there's something on an emotional
level that I find slightly uncomfortable about the phrase "guerrilla
outsourcing". The problem I have is that I don't feel as if I'm some
sort of successor to Che Image via WikipediaGuevara as a I sit banging away at my
In the same vein I always laughed
behind the backs of people who called themselves "road warriors". A
software salesman - not many women want to class themselves as
"warriors" - dressed in chinos and a polo shirt is not Mad Max. Ditch
the laptop and the mid-range Ford, get a spear and a chariot, then I'll
believe you're a "road warrior".
As I said, my reaction is totally emotional and irrational.
This brings me to the other description of ki work as "collaborative capitalism". I've blogged before about how ki work represents part of the future as old-style managerial capitalism falls apart.
I love the idea of the internet
providing new ways to work where we collaborate online, across national
borders, to undercut and replace traditional corporations. Certainly
big isn't always beautiful any more.
benefits of economies of scale are disappearing in the digital world.
Who needs a big office building with a sophisticated computer network
and thousands of employees when your big business can be undercut by a
bunch of homeworkers linked by the internet?
So again, "collaborative capitalism" offers a good description of ki
work, but as a term it comes with baggage. What I mean is, in a
strangely contradictory way, some people seem to believe that if you
talk about "capitalism " you must be a communist. It's nonsense of
course, but it's hard to escape the emotional subconscious impact of
So how do we describe ki
work: collaborative capitalism, guerrilla outsourcing or virtual
business process outsourcing? Perhaps you can offer a better
suggestion. I'd certainly be interested to hear what you have to say.
The demise of newspapers will be a sad loss for local communities, democracy and journalists. (Okay I know the last is a little selfish but it has been my profession for too long so I have a vested interest.) But seriously, papers at their best do hold local politicians to account and they provide some sort of social cohesion. Without them it'll be difficult to find out what local sports teams are up to, what's playing at the multiplex and even who has died in the neighborhood.
Although as I said in my last ki work blog posting I believe traditional printed newspapers cannot survive or even reinvent themselves I do think there's room for a new type of local news source which uses traditional skills. To show how it could work I'm going to develop a theoretical model here.
Local news reinvented
We'll start with a journalist called Jack who has been laid off when the newspaper he was working for closed down. Fortunately he's got a bit of cash in the bank from his final pay-off to cover not so much the start-up costs of his new business but to enable him to eat while he develops revenue streams.
As a reporter and a resident he'll have developed good local contacts including with the police, churches, schools, politicians, shopkeepers and all the people who keep a community running. He might not have a printing press, but he does have a PC and an internet connection so putting their stories online is pretty simple.
Using blogging software he creates a local website covering the same things as his old paper. It is a great deal of work as even so-called 'user-generated content' has to be chased and often delicately rewritten. He can't afford to alienate contributors.
One thing he probably won't have to worry about is search engine optimization. As his audience is geographically focused publicizing the site is a combination of word-of-mouth, flyers and ads in stores. In that context Google ranking doesn't matter too much.
Undercutting the corporations
The central point about his whole operation is that it's cheap. He already has a PC and broadband. Hosting his site costs less than $10 a month. His investment isn't cash, but time. It's a sea change from his old newspaper with hundreds of staff, expensive offices, printing and distribution to pay for.
Image by ~jjjohn~ via Flickr
But old papers face one challenge in common: finding revenue. The easiest way to monetize a site is through contextual advertising such as Google's AdSense. There are also thousands of affiliate schemes which give website owners a percentage of sales income from the likes of Amazon. These are simple schemes to set up, but they're unlikely to give Jack a living wage.
A more effective way of earning money is to sell ads and sponsorship to specific businesses. This is not an easy task for a journalist. The problem comes in retaining any vestige of independence when speaking to a local business. Is it advertising that he's after or a story? And will an advertiser get editorial preference?
This is a completely different form of organization from that which controls most newspapers today. Instead of a few companies with a large number of employees it is a network of skilled individual entrepreneurs. In many ways it's a return to the way newspapers used to be locally owned and run.
The solution is to hire somebody to sell advertising. That person does not have to come from the neighborhood. All that's required is for Jack to supply a list of the right contacts and phone numbers. And, hey, we've got the beginnings of a ki work virtual business selling ads for a number of these news microsites. Advertisers can then be offered packages covering several areas. But the whole thing's flexible unlike a newspaper with its fixed staff and other costs.
There are other ways for Jack to develop his virtual business across the internet. Resources can be shared. He could strike a deal with a movie site to provide reviews for the shows at the local multiplex. Both sides will gain traffic.
In ki work terms it represents a form of collaborative capitalism where small businesses are able to undercut large corporations. Big may be beautiful, but in the online world it's not always financially viable.
The fact that it was written by the Reuters news agency means it will be very widely read. Reuters has traditionally made its income from charging newspapers, television and radio stations across the world for the right to publish it articles.
For people who are insecure in their jobs this type of article represents both good and bad news. The increasing popularity of social networking services means employers will turn to them as a means of filling vacancies. But how do you differentiate yourself from the millions of other people also registering in the hope of improving their job prospects?
One of the people quoted in the Reuters article says it took him a long time to build up his network to the point where it helped him to find a job last year. Now it's much more difficult.
There is a powerful argument for investing a little cash to boost your online career. If nothing else it means you'll probably be competing in a space that's a little less crowded. After all if you're unemployed you've nothing better to do all day than post copies of your resume on free sites.
You'll still need to put some effort into networking. Money alone won't buy you friends. But it is worth cehecking out the premium options offered by social networking and employment websites.
On ki work's site we offer the option of paying $50 a month to become an accredited expert. This gives increased prominence to your online brand, allows you to certify professionals and buyers while, most importantly, giving you the opportunity to earn from leveraging your network. You'll find plenty more information here at ki work.
Of course most people won't pay a subscription for any online service and many of them may prosper. But is worth thinking about whether it might be worth boosting your earning prospects by investing a little cash along with your time.
"My category leadership is to manage, through a cooperative and secured way, the “CSR ethical label”. This quality of service guarantee includes the pre-selection of the suppliers by the platform. It also implies a ruling-assessment of the professionals by their clients, through the platform. Finally, the service includes a professional coaching helping the suppliers to climb up the learning curve.
This will be the added-value of the ki work CSR marketplace. A mix between a commercial brand and a open standard, intended to enhance corporate citizenship following a voluntary way and local communities sensitive approach."
Boris also explains how CSR requires a multi-dimensional approach, and that ki work and other web services can help deliver this goal.
"I address CSR from a social entrepreneurial point of view. The challenge is : “Prospering with responsibility”. CSR is important to achieve the sustainable development of companies in respect of all their stakeholders interests. This means: workers, providers, clients, customers, neighbours, natural resources and shareholders. With the Web 2.0, the stakeholders and civil society also have access to large and shared resources."
Finally, Boris also outlines how CSR consultants can benefit from being accredited experts in the CSR marketplace.
"The benefits for independent CSR experts on ki work are an easier access to large CSR projects posted by companies and lower commercial expenses to find new incomes. The second advantage is to make CSR experts brand, skills and services more visible and thus more valuable for them."
Organizer of the European Tool Command Language (Tcl) Conferences Michael Haschek has become the category for application development at ki work, the online marketplace for remote and virtual workers. Michael has 25 years experience leading application development projects in a variety of languages.
He is the author of the contact manager CMfoni and the embeddable application ViCo. CMfoni is designed to work with social networking sites (LinkedIn, Viadeo, Facebook, NING) and PLAXO (seehttp://www.cm4net.com, http.//www.seamless-llc.com). ViCo enables users to retrieve contact information from different social networking sites.
Freddie has been developing ai solutions since the mid 1980s, and is currently pioneering the general use of AI agents
to converse with humans. He explains that, “As organizations move towards immersive
conversational engagement using 3D and AI, the way we do
business will change. Ki work is well placed as a new marketplace for trading
services and products for Virtual Worlds and AI”.
“Though Freddie is way ahead of the technology curve, there are already
30m+ people using Virtual Worlds and over $340m venture capital has
been invested this year alone. However, there is no
efficient marketplace today for Virtual World and AI products and
services,” says Michael Wolff, CEO and founder of ki work. “Freddie’s
vision and ability to see beyond the forest is an asset to the team. As
a pioneer in Artificial Intelligence, he is a phenomenal addition to
our leadership team. We are lucky to have a great mind like Freddie
validate our efforts by joining us in our objectives.”
Freddie will be expressing his reasons for joining ki work as a leader, and how he plans to develop the AI marketplace, in a webinar on Thursday 6th November (register here). To find or outsource work in this field, simply go to the Artificial Intelligence marketplace, and post a service offer or project.
Due to demand, here's a recording of Martin Blundell's webinar about why he became a leader of multiple Life Sciences categories on ki work.
As well as a fascinating introduction to Martin's background in the Life Sciences and Biopharm industries, learn how Martin built a huge network in under a year, and how he plans to use ki work to develop teams of Experts for large projects.
The aim of sustainopreneurship is to use entrepreneurial methods to solve sustainability problems in areas such as health, illiteracy, poverty, communication, energy, water and food security. The solutions should allow the stakeholders to get their needs fulfilled in ways that respect all life support systems. You can read more about the concept in this Wikipedia entry.
“In an effort to deliver options beyond today’s business-as-usual thinking my goal is recruit 75 world-changing experts to the sustainability entrepreneurship category. We want to support those with business goals of improving our relationship with the planet and peoples, as agents of change, making meaning and money at the same time; by turning the biggest problems of our world to even larger business opportunities. In short – businesses with a cause.”