By Piyush Sharma
The history of the world shows us how economic might has universally beaten military might over centuries. Will the sweeping change of the democratisation of economic opportunity, through crowd-based capitalism, lead to an evolution of a better political system of governance?
The majority of the world’s populations work for a few others, and the model of full-time employment is as accepted in the society today as other established institutions like marriage, family, justice and the like. However, a thousand years ago, employment was onsidered detestable — almost akin to bondage. Today, full-time employment is a respectable thing to have in most parts of the world. The employment model, has today, been refined to include worker protections, benefits and the works. However, it is on the verge of being challenged.
Crowd-based economic model
You-tube and eBay were the pioneers of the first instance of a crowd-based economic model. And now it’s becoming personal. From sharing code (Linux), to sharing lives (Facebook) and content (YouTube)—this is now an era so beautifully chiselled by the evolution of the internet. Thanks to the social web, you can now share anything with anyone anywhere in the world. Is this the end of hyper-consumption?
Today Uber and Air BnB are the poster boys of a glamorous new way of economic modelling, popularly called “sharing economy”. A decade ago, people would have likely laughed at the prospect of the current extent of intrusion we allow in our lives, with people around the world even willing to “share a home” to make the most of a gig economy.
Good old capitalism transformed
Platform-based disruptions across industries , enabled through an overall robust digital trust network (example — online profiles of hosts and guests, rating systems, etc) in the ecosystem, has become the order of the day. It is the transformation of good old capitalism — the defining economic force of the 20th century.
Historically, employment as a method, has seen unprecedented success as a model to organise labour, over the last few hundred years. Will we see the 21st century lend itself to organising labour in a different fashion, ultimately leading to the end of full-time employment as a core model?
The core premise of collaborative sharing is simple: access to goods and skills is more important than ownership of them. The sharing economy basically relies on its ability to use resources optimally, to give the best throughput and is seemingly a more efficient, productive and better system. I am convinced that “sharing” could be a force for good but, may not necessarily replace good old “full-time employment” as a core model anytime soon.
A job is just not income. It is dignity, hope and purpose. Philosophers have long debated that work is an essential endeavour to a meaningful life. 20th century management theory also came of age with Theory Y and Theory Z arguing that man basically wants to work.
What does the future of work look like?
Can the new sharing economy work for everybody? Will it succeed in universally becoming the new normal? Can it be inclusive as it purportedly seems to be and contentiously fights to project? Are we fortunate to be living in interesting and exciting times that saw the early days of the unravelling of future of work?
The world is becoming a faster changing and more turbulent place for organisations, and the ability to adapt has never been greater. Vulnerability for all—people and institutions alike—is the absolute heartbeat of this emerging future. The big question for the new economy is not what reward we get for being a participant but, what we become by it.
Piyush Sharma is a global tech, media and entrepreneurial leader with a reputation for value creation and catalytic growth across large billion dollar enterprises and start-ups.
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