Can We Consumerize Everything inside Businesses?

September 9, 2014 by Stowe Boyd

GigaOM Research

Brightidea, the innovation platform, has a fall release coming out, and their press release summarizes what’s coming:

  • Crowdfunding – source financial investment from internal business units to launch key development projects
  • Massively Configurable Workflow – design a complete end-to-end process that aligns with your existing innovation use case, whatever it is
  • Customizable Fields – full flexibility for administrators to control what user data can be captured, displayed, and reported upon
  • New Prioritization Tools – shortlist and select the best ideas, including review, single scale, scorecarding, pairwise comparison, and stack rank
  • Enhanced Rules Engine – auto-graduate ideas based on a rule being met

What caught my eye is the first item: internal crowdfunding to get new projects off the ground. That’s an amazing departure from conventional approaches to getting projects going.

In today’s traditional company, funding is handled by some allocation process usually working in a top-down fashion. Top management decides how to spread funds out based on corporate strategy. But how about if money was distributed on some other basis, like headcount, profitability, past successes, or the like. A company could allocate some proportion of funds in this way, and then anyone could propose new initiatives which would be crowdsourced. Perhaps in the most ambitious allocation, every employee would have a digital wallet and each could choose where to invest that capital.

Imagine if everything in a company were managed as open marketplaces. First to get them funded, and second to make a marketplace to connect employees with projects, basically providing an internal platform that is something like what Elance-oDesk does for freelancers.

Strangely enough, yesterday at TechCrunch I found a company that is trying to do that, called Rallyteam, although the financial side — payment for the services — isn’t taken to the logical conclusion. Rallyteam assumes that employees have a salary, and the work that flows through its platform doesn’t change that. But my vision is that in the future employees might have a base salary for a core job, but that other compensation could be dynamic, based on the internal work market. But obviously we have a transition before that comes to be.

The workflow is pretty obvious: employees apply, their profiles are reviewed, a negotiation ensues, and ultimately someone connects with the work. Later on, Rallyteam supports feedback, with employees gathering indicators of skills gained and whether the work was done well, in a timely fashion, etc.

Basically, this is analogous to the consumerization of work applications and devices: the freelancization of business. Perhaps this is just another step in the walls of business becoming ever more porous. In the near future the distinction between being a full-timer, a part-timer, or a freelancer might become much less obvious.

Original Article