February 6, 2012

Labor Efficiency: The Next Great Internet Disruption | TechCrunch

Disclaimer:  I view this story as partially a sales pitch for his company by the author, but the underlying thesis and facts clearly signal a growing trend that cannot be ignored.

The story is geared to private sector service businesses, but the technological revolution, what I call RDP (Rapid Digital Productivity), also affects America's factory floors. And, in due time, this trend may well affect government functions, too, which will dissolve the expected job security of public employees.

The benefits to business are obvious and are well described in the story. This revolution cannot be stopped and political rhetoric notwithstanding, we will need fewer people at less cost to continue to grow the economy for many years.

We need a broad national discussion about this reality because the social implications are enormous for the United States and all advanced societies and the expectations of their people.

We have government and institutions that remain based fundamentally on an industrial model, yet technology has enabled a digitally enhanced work that is not fully understood by policy-makers and politicians. Or, if it is, public discourse has not embraced it. The "Create Jobs" and "Grow the Economy" mantras are a simplistic attempt to garner votes. but the reality is that far fewer employees with different skills can grow the economy. A more realistic and substantive discussion must evolve that recognizes the RDP reality.

"The Rise of the Independent Worker

...Over the past couple of years, there has been a huge increase in the number of workers who operate as some sort of independent, free-agent contractor or consultant. Though the numbers vary greatly, the consensus seems to be around 20 percent of the U.S. workforce, and growing (with some estimates up to 50 percent by 2020). Think about that, one in every five workers are currently unattached to any one company!

Expert explanations for this rise vary as much as the number itself, but I believe the two most important factors, by far, are: Technology and the Economy..."

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