I’ve recently seen a lot of interesting ideas floating around that have the potential to drastically change the 9-5 world over the coming years. As more of the workforce migrates to jobs based on knowledge work and out of manufacturing and shift work, I believe we will see a fundamental difference in the expectations of employees and employers.
WORKING 9-5. NO WAY TO MAKE A LIVING.
In my current job, I have the good fortune of working from home. My company’s Global HQ is in San Francisco, and I live in Louisville, KY. More than 50% of our US-based staff is remote, working from home offices, Starbucks, or wherever they can get WI-FI or mobile broadband connection. This working arrangement is beneficial to both the employee and the employer. As an employee I have more flexibility throughout the day. I can work when and where I want as long as I am achieving my goals, meeting my deadlines, and am available for those that I need to work with. Many times I am working outside of the typical 9-5 hours most office dwellers hold. I can work on-demand by using any multitude of devices that are at my disposal at any point in time (most personally owned). This is a somewhat freeing work arrangement. Do what you need to do, when it needs to be done, no questions asked. It’s definitely a far cry from punching in and out at the front door.
CONTINUOUS LEARNING IS KEY TO JOB (AND LIFE) SATISFACTION
In a recent offsite we had, one of the common themes that came out was the want for a formal way to incorporate continuing education for career advancement. This can be tricky. Of course a company wants smarter, more educated employees. But how can you effectively create a program around this that will fit the needs of everyone? Daniel Pink had an interesting post on Bildungsurlaub, roughly translating to “training vacation”. As part of German employment law, employees can get 5 days of paid training for any topic, related to their job or not. This is a great concept, and in my opinion should be a mandatory requirement at any company. There have been several papers written on the correlation between continuing education and job satisfaction, but those aside, this just seems like the right thing to do. A real win-win for employees and employers.
THE “PAID” PAID VACATION
This great concept referred to as the Paid, PAID Vacation was introduced by the FullContact team. Esentially, not only do you get 15 days per year of paid vacation, but the company will give you $7,500 toward your vacation expenses assuming you meet the conditions of actually going on vacation, disconnecting while on vacation, and not working while on vacation. Pretty sweet deal, right!? This is another innovative and employee-focused idea that serves to increase job satisfaction and company loyalty, as well as attract new employees enticed by this perk and a cool company culture.
TIME OFF FOR VOLUNTEERING
Marc Benioff’s 1/1/1 philanthropic model has influenced change across many companies, including Appirio, where I work. I get one day per year where I can choose to volunteer for any cause that I want. We also have a company-wide "Future of the Cloud Day" where all employees are required to disconnect and join a regional or local group in affecting change in our communities. This is a very gratifying and humbling event that benefits our communities and the psyches of our employees. It forces us to step out of the hectic rat race and focus on the things that help others. It has pushed me to become more involved with non-profits in my area and dedicate more of my personal time to causes that are important to me. It also helps build strong team bonds when you can all work together toward a common cause for the greater good.
THE NEXT GENERATION
The common thread to many of these shifts in work boil down to focusing on the employee’s well-being. There is a major shift from focusing on “what can this employee do to help the company?” to “how can I help this employee improve their life (and reap those benfits as an employer)?” What are some of the unique or interesting programs you have seen employers use to retain and optimize employee satisfaction?
It was a cool Saturday morning in October 2006, and I was on my way to meet Adam Wiebe for a job interview over breakfast at the Karma Cafe in Louisville, KY. I was in the mortgage business at the time, and I had been laid off from my salaried position in the latest round of cuts as the market decline worsened. I reverted to a commission-only sales job while I was looking for something, anything, that could get me out of mortgages and back into technology.
Adam had recently left Salesforce.com and moved back to Louisville with his wife Hendy and their 2 young sons. Hendy had started Infowelders a few years earlier and been the sole employee up to this point. She was the workhorse that handled the implementations and data migrations for the customers coming through Adam and his team, and she built a good reputation by doing a damn fine job. Adam officially joined and they both decided to build a company that could serve the small to mid-market for Salesforce implementations, which was very underserved at the time. And they were looking for employees in Louisville.
Needless to say, the breakfast that morning changed my life. Adam introduced me to Salesforce, cloud computing, and what would be the future of how business uses technology. We were having beers at his house that afternoon. I started the next week, putting together desks and chairs in his living room and immersing myself in a whole new world of possibilities. I had no idea where this path would lead, but I knew that I was excited to go forward at full speed and figure it out.
In the same way that Adam and Hendy welcomed me into the Infowelders family, everyone who joined became a new sibling. We didn’t have to try to set the cuture - it just worked. And as we rode the Salesforce wave over the following years, failed at some things and succeeded at others, we grew closer and became more than just a team, more than just a company, at least in our own eyes. We were all part of making something special happen.
Then, on March 31, 2011, I and the rest of my fellow Infowelders officially became Appirians. In some ways, at least for me personally, it was a compliment and an easy decision. It was a chance to become a part of the most innovative cloud services firm in existence, work with the best of the best people in the industry, and start a new chapter that was sure to be fast paced and exiciting. In other ways I was somewhat apprehensive. Infowelders was something that I had dedicated my heart and soul to, it was part of my identity and my family. It was personal, and not something that was easy to give up, no matter what the potenial gains might be. But in the end, when balancing out what the next 5 years might look like at Appirio vs as Infowelders, it was a no-brainer.
Fast forward another year, it’s now March 2012, and I’m not sure why I ever second guessed becoming a member of the Appirio team. We are not just doing super innovative things for our customers with cloud technologies, which itself is #superfrickinawesome, but we are completely turning the traditional model of professional services on its head. I’m now leading a piece of our strategy to disrupt professional services with technology, and I couldn’t be more excited about how it will change the way we deliver success to our customers and allow them in turn to be more innovative. It’s really happening, and it’s the opportunity of a lifetime.
Times have changed a lot since October 2006. The Karma Cafe has closed, the Blackberry is scoffed upon, and Flash is on the brink of death. Salesforce is pushing almost $3 billion a year in revenue, the cloud market is projected to grow to $270 billion over the next 8 years, and my children will never remember a world without iPads. Thoughout all of that change has been the constant of the awesome people I get to work with, that teach me something new or change my way of thinking everyday, and that continue to do things that amaze me. And luckily for me, that still includes Adam Wiebe, the guy that offered me a directional sign down a road that has been both fulfilling and fruitful.
I can’t predict what will happen in the next 5 years, but I know that as long as I’m still surrounded by people of the caliber that I am today, it’s gonna be one hell of a ride!
Let me start by saying that I don’t much care for the Public/Private Cloud debate. It’s as bad as debating politics, which is something I tend to steer away from. But after reading this post calling out Private Cloud Haters from George Hulme, I wanted to add a counterpoint to his argument.
The biggest debate between Public and Private Cloud proponents has been whether or not Private Cloud is even “Cloud” at all. This is an almost unwinnable debate from either side because there are so many definitions of what Private Cloud means, each with varying stretches of the imagination required to consider the solution truly Cloud. On the flip side, there is no debate that Public Cloud is “Cloud”. The definitions for Public Cloud are more straitforward - SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS - but even these can have slight nuances that could be argued. In fact, IaaS is the blurry dividing line between what Public Cloud purists define as Cloud and where Private Cloud proponents start slapping on the Private label.
So what’s the point? Well, the issue I take with George’s characterization of Zynga’s move from AWS to their own infrastructure as a transition from Public Cloud to Private Cloud is that it is a misclassification. Owning and maintaining your own infrastructure is not a Private Cloud - it’s a data center. Cloud implies that you are abstracting some level of complexity away from those who use and/or manage the infrastructure, and running your own data center is not abstacted at all. When I look to determine if a solution is truly Cloud, I go to the solution architecture diagram test. If I were to draw a diagram of the solution at the lowest level of detail that I had to manage, and if that diagram includes servers, racks, switches, load balancers, or other hardware, it’s not Cloud (in the context of me as the person managing it, not necessarily in the context of the end user if I am providing a Public Cloud solution - this is an important distinction).
IMO, Zynga went from a cloud provider leveraging IaaS to run their public platform to a cloud provider who wanted to run their public platform from their own hardware. More power to them. I’m sure they had some good justification to make a move that big (maybe they will be a PaaS someday?). But there is not a Private Cloud anywhere in that transition.
If George’s contention held true, you would have to say that any cloud providers who didn’t use IaaS were running Private Clouds. And you know, if that were a valid definition of Private Cloud I would agree it is one of the few valid use cases for that term. But this isn’t the typical use case where the Private Cloud label gets applied. Again, IMO, the Private Cloud moniker causes the most harm when it is used in the context of enterprises, who are not Cloud providers, as a way to slap the term “Cloud” on the IT status quo.
I’m sure there are plenty who would disagree with my point of view, and that is OK. I’m not claiming that Public Cloud platforms are the solution to all of the world’s problems - it’s still an industry in its infancy. But I would posit this: There is little valid debate that Public Cloud should be put into the category of “Cloud Solutions” - but there is a lot of debate around whether or not Private Cloud is a valid term. So for those who toot the horns of Private Cloud, why should those solutions be called Cloud at all? Why is the legacy practice of running your own data centers suddenly “Cloud”? What about Zynga building its own data center makes it a Private Cloud? I’m not looking to be convinced that running your infrastructure still has merit in some cases - I get it. What I’m still waiting for is the argument that can convince me that any level of abstraction below IaaS should be considered “Cloud”.
- They are vague generalizations of obvious trends
- They don’t provide me any actionable information
- They are pretty much the same things that other people posted
- By tomorrow I won’t remember what you predicted
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
The goal is to truly measure social media influence as opposed to social media engagement, which is really what I see Klout as a tool for. Here is how it would work:
- Follower/Following ratio has no bearing on the score
- Measure click-throughs on shortened links that you share as part of your influence
- Measure how many of your shares are re-shared, liked, or replied to (again, not a ratio)
- Measure statisitcs for hastags and mentions you often use (re-shares, replies, likes), and break down your score by topic
- If someone who follows you shares a link after you share it, you get some credit, but not as much as if they re-shared your version of it.
- Charge marketers to get access to this information.
- Give members a cut of the marketing dollars generated based on how many marketers have interest in their segments of influence.
- Joining is completely private and optional.
- The algorithms would be transparent. The idea here is that you can’t game the algorithm to increase your score unless you are truly being more influential.
Startup costs would be low, and the focus for building the service would rely heavily on crowdsourcing. So, who is in?
I had the urge to write a post tonight, but I wasn’t sure what to write about. And then I got to thinking about a topic I occasionally visit at random times, and that is: what is the next wide-spread, disrusptive innovation in technology that surpasses the current leaders of Mobile, Cloud, and Social? The big 3 are in pre-teen, toddler, and infant stages respectively and have quite a life left to lead, but just as these incarnations were born and each one grew faster than the other, there will soon be the birth of another new revolutionizing concept enabled by technology that will affect our lives dramatically.
There’s a wide spectrum of ideas I think could be candidates, and I’m sure that’s only a fraction of what we all could collectively come up with. Mobile and Cloud are both ideas that have been around for decades, but lack of infrastructure and hardware maturity kept capabilities and functionality at a low level. A tipping point in the speed/size of microprocessors is partly to thank for powering a lot of the technical innovation that made these ideas explode with growth. It has also helped enable the capabilities of software, which is more and more changing the work our brains are used to doing. Some of the best innovations are ones of that have failed famously before, but revisited now that hardware technology is moving along at an incredible pace (Newton/iPad).
Music is a great example industry whose transformation really took off with Napster. There still may be some way to go, but recording capabilities and music sale/distribution are being democratized by technology. Music is now mobile, cloud, and social, and there still may be more to come that I can’t foresee, but I’m trying to look beyond music.
Access, automation, location, are themes that I see across all of the current distruptors. Automation, from both a hardware and software perspective, has mind-boggling potential in the coming decades. Access to any piece of information or the ability to control any piece of electronic equipment, wherever you are, would be pretty game-changing as well.
But I still feel like there is something staring us in the face that we don’t see. Has computer-based technology as a whole a reached a point where it will begin to face physical limitations and grow a little more slowly? Will the next truly life altering innovations come from the chemical engineers, healthcare practicioners, the military, or some industry that will blossom overnight? Is it robots, or maybe electric cars?
Think about: how you feel like you’re missing a piece of clothing if you leave your phone at home, how cloud computing has allowed you access to any important software from any internet connection, and how social networks have played a role in social revolutions and global connectedness. Those are truly changes that affect how we live our lives. The exciting part is, there will be many disruptors for the rest of our lives, to be sure.
So I want to know what you think - what is the next big thing?
P.S. I hope it’s robots
When I started as a consultant for Infowelders in 2006, selling ‘the cloud’ was mostly about overcoming the technical objections of IT stakeholders. Security, data ownership, and reliability were common conversation points in any prospect call.
Fast forward 5 years and script has been flipped. Cloud solutions are no longer only being adopted by small and medium businesses; the enterprise is the new frontier of cloud solutions. What has driven this shift in such a short period of time?
In the same way that the public cloud affords smaller businesses the same advanced technology tools that once only the largest businesses could afford, the cloud is now proving to provide the business agility and responsiveness to large businesses that only smaller companies could once manage. This has nothing to do with security or data residency. It is made possible taking the attributes of cloud - instant scale, publicly available, rapid innovation - and applying them to solve business problems.
The same old waterfall approach resulting in multi-year projects destined for failure just doesn’t fit when adopting the public cloud. When adopting cloud solutions it truly is about agility first, technology second, which is a complete 180 from when I started consulting for cloud solutions like Salesforce. The results that early enterprise adopters like Starbucks received were the canary in the coal mine for other Fortune 1000 companies to make the case for bringing cloud solutions into their business. Suddenly, the mode has changed from “we can’t adopt the cloud because of x, y, and z” to “we need to find a way to adopt the cloud because of a, b, and c”. This is an exciting shift, and one that brings about a lot of promise for changing the way traditionally slow-moving, beheamoth organizations work, both internally and externally.
Do you have a story to share about how your company fought the battle to adopt a public cloud solution like Salesforce, Google, or Workday - either successfully or unsuccessfully? If you have a good one I will highlight it in a future blog post about how to win the cloud battle in your organization.