Future of HR in the age of platformization
It was as if the pace of disruptions, caused by technological, economic and geo-political changes were not enough on the world stage in 2019, COVID-19 took a big bang entry in the drama and fast paced the scenes of change. The contagion impacted the whole world indiscriminately, in fact, wealthier and more powerful nations, the more. Many myths were broken and the new normal, still in fluid state, is in the transient phase of getting solidified. The capitalism is gradually losing its glitter and alpha leaders led nationalistic fervour is pushing globalization outside their consideration set. The world is suddenly replete with paradoxical forces creating a churning vortex. On the contrary, when most of the businesses are still in trance, there is a clear emerging trend of growth of online businesses to support touchless interactions & transactions.
Agnostic of the hardliner leaders’ personal agenda & aspiration, the online socialization is only on growth spree. Increasing network has created a flurry of opportunities for doing completely new ways of businesses. Better marginal economics has encouraged the world to move from a linear (pipe) way of doing business to a platform way of doing the business. Platforms are built around the core capabilities of the companies. Companies go for commoditizing the products & services to gravitate the consumers and the other service providers. The platformization has blurred the boundary of companies and helped connect with all the interested folks in a smooth manner. Data led customised customer experience creates virtuous network effect through double loop feedback system. The positive network effect leads to network snowballing. The platform provides the consumer to co-create products & services at drastically reduced products & service cost, enhanced delivery speed. Platformization of businesses helps organizations to become highly efficient, scalable and disruptive in nature. Hence, such businesses attract much higher valuation. The world is full of platform businesses, e.g. Google, Facebook, Uber, Netflix, Airbnb, WhatsApp. IOS, Android to name a few. There is a growing trend of more and more platformization of world businesses.
When I am talking about platform-age, I do not consider only platform companies. I also include all those incumbents and the traditional pipe companies, who are concerned about the disruptions and being devoured to the platform companies. In platform age, the incumbent companies are always on guard, without ignoring any clop. They know that the masked un-assumed but highly agile enemies are present somewhere nearby, currently looking for loose bricks in their dominant edifice. Hence, there is a growing tendency of organizations to hire more and more nomadic & contingent workforce, who are specialists and can be deployed in a cost efficient & flexible manner. A combination of powerful algorithms, a virtuous network with a flexible workforce is easily scalable in no time and gives sleepless nights to the current dominant players.
I am seeing some common characteristics in the CEOs & senior management of platform age companies. They are imaginative, curious, agile, and grounded but very-very impatient. They operate with a psychological sense of urgency to disrupt or at least, prevent one’s business from being disrupted. Many times, they lack sensitivity towards people at large. They do not have orientation, leave aside time, to connect with the solid citizens. They believe that people who I have been hired for work in any form of employment are supposed to be trained and engaged naturally.
Good organizations are rewiring people with new age skill sets, such as, digitalization, entrepreneurship, resilience, imagining , outcome orientation, and emotional intelligence. They also re skill and upskill people to prepare for any eventuality. Great organizations also help people get outplaced in case of redundancy. However, the algorithm led labour division is happening at a much faster rate than an individual or a well-meaning organization can think and prepare their workforce for any disruptive changes. The half-life of skills is drastically dwindling. One needs to have high perceptual acuity, almost like an acrobat to keep oneself flexible and resilient enough to continually acclimatize.
In the changing work scenario, the employees who have attuned themselves as freelancers will have opportunities to work with multiple organizations in many projects. However, most of us who are used to working in a stable environment with retirement facilities, leaves, and medi-claim will have difficulty in adjusting to new forms of employment. Great organizations will certainly take care of physical & psychological safety, reskilling & upskilling, adjacent movement, counselling and outplacements in experiential way. However, such great organizations will be very few. Most of the organizations will be manipulative and opportunistic, especially with workers having commoditized skills. The top management of such organizations will try to make disproportionate money through investment routes. This will lead to economic disparity in society and more and more disappointment about the economy. Hence, over time some social set up will evolve and must evolve to take care of governance to maintain the balance of power between workers and the companies. The aim of any economic development should be to unleash the potential of human capital for continuous and customised consumer experience Any development done without involving human potential of society at large, will be serving to the selfish motive of only few homodeus and rendering irreversible degradation of homosapiens.