The Enabling and Amplifying Effects of Technology – The World Wide Workforce

So while there are many ways to look at the impacts of new technology on businesses and management of human resources over the past 20 years, from the perspective of an emerging World Wide Workforce, there is one crucial central development: the workforce is becoming networked/digitally-connected with more and more people having computers and smart devices they rely on continuously.

Information technology is clearly playing a crucial role in the emergence of the World Wide Workforce and also in how businesses can master and benefit from this opportunity. Information technology (IT) has long been a force that has made information more portable, manageable, and usable for businesses. But in the past 20 years, the extent to which this has occurred—on a global scale—and the rate of change have been difficult to even keep up with in terms of comprehension and business deployment. However, we can see all around us that it is happening.

One of the mains shifts has been paradigmatic, from a world of enterprise and personal computers linked by thin, often fragmented networks to a world in which (to quote John Gage at Sun Microsystems in the late 1980s) “the network is the computer.” This is accurate enough to make the point that computing power, connected by broadband (now wireless) networks, has wrapped the globe and is on the way to becoming available to everyone on the planet.

Not only can massive amounts of data be managed and processed by powerful algorithms and rule-based/AI systems, people can discover one another, associate with one another, interact with one another, or transact commercially with one another (so-called peer-to-peer). Social networks (and especially other digital platforms) are not just personal, they are a means of conducting business.

Today, this not only means there is a way for people to communicate with one another easily across distances—even around the world. It means that people are able to share significant information about themselves (e.g. who they are, what they have done, what they can or are willing to do, etc.). It also means that people—and businesses—can establish work arrangements, from original agreements and statements of work to the depositing of compensation in a bank account of a worker in any given country.

In fact, over the past ten years or so, integrated digital platforms have developed and are now enabling/supporting millions of cross-border work arrangements between businesses and workers (global freelance marketplace platform, Elance-ODesk, for example have approx. 2.7 million offers of work (projects) being posted to workers annually, and this is a growing number). While many of these work arrangements are of limited scope today– and in most cases may be conducted/completed by workers and businesses without strong assurances of their being in compliance with various countries’ labor laws—they are nonetheless occurring (and it is a growing phenomenon).

Clearly, information technology (most visibly through integrated “online work arrangement platforms”) is allowing businesses and a globally-networked, digitally-connected workforce to find one another and enter into and full-fill work arrangements or work contracts in a way that was never possible before. Though technology is driving the development of the World Wide Workforce in other ways, this development (of online staffing platforms, online freelancer marketplaces, FMS or freelancer management systems, etc.) seems to be the most visible and most significant one.

This is an excerpt from the recently launched CXC Global Whitepaper “Engaging “The Worldwide Workforce” In The 21st Century. You can download this, and other industry related whitepapers on –

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