Narinder Singh is the president of CloudSpokes.
As we stepped outside the club, a black car pulled up, and my friend motioned for me to get in. Hesitantly, I got in beside him as he waved his phone at me and said that magic word, “Uber.”
In just weeks, like so many before and after me, it went from being magic to a core part of how I navigated major cities. Through the power of cloud, social, and mobile, Uber and companies like it are upending the status quo taxis and limousines — an industry that has been stable since the early 1900s.
The taxi companies of enterprise IT
While, once again, consumer trends lead the way, this type of disruption is inevitable for enterprises as well, and software development is high on the list. Large global systems integrators are the taxi and limousine companies of enterprise IT. They are companies with hundreds of thousands of people (large fixed assets), industries that have been stable for decades, but in an area where their stability anchors them to a single legacy approach.
Companies like Accenture and Tata Consultancy Services must hire upwards of fifty thousand people each year just to remain stable (due to turnover). They are among the largest recruiting companies in the world. With their clients, they use their size to qualify their ability to meet a large variety of software development needs. Internally, they look to train their people and match their skills with the specific needs as best they can.
However, with the connected nature of the world and the ubiquity of cloud platforms, technology and social collaboration offer a more efficient and dynamic way of connecting the best designers and developers with enterprises seeking those skills. Marketplaces such as CloudSpokes, oDesk, TopCoder, uTest, and many others, allow for every unit of work to be connected directly with experienced sets of developers.
This is particularly true of the fastest emerging technologies and historically enterprises have been excluded from taking advantages of the technologies used at companies like Twitter, Facebook and Google (Node, Bootstrap, Angular, etc.) because of a lack of available skills. Even with hundreds of thousands of developers, the global systems integrators cannot quickly bring this type of expertise to bear for your organization (as an exercise, try asking them).
What about the developer?
It’s not just companies that benefit from the exchange with developers. Marketplaces allow the best developer for a given set of work to be rewarded accordingly. This helps or hurts developers based on their skills and expertise. Inside of large systems integrators, the compensation for engineers is roughly the same. Yet it’s common to hear that a great developer is worth 10 times as much as an average one. Because markets can correct this imbalance, they can draw stronger sets of skills.
In addition, marketplaces provide developers opportunities to choose what they work on (perhaps what they are most interested or best at), learn from the experience of others, and replace second order indicators of performance (what school you went to, GPA, previous employer) with first hand, auditable accounts of their capabilities.
With Uber, as most customers know, you can rate your driver. What is less apparent is that driver also rates you. As a result, obnoxious riders will find they have to wait longer for a car than the rest of us. Your preferences (vehicle), location (proximity), and this feedback create a far more efficient market for matching the needs of riders and drivers. Software development, the very domain that created this technology, will undergo a similar shift.
It’s not that every developer will become a freelancer, but that transparency and markets will remove the asymmetry of information and access between customers, providers, and developers. As a result, over time, the best paths for a given problem space will win. Organizations that open themselves up to this approach first will be faster at accessing innovation and the flexibility they gained through the last structural IT shift, cloud computing itself. So take a ride and see for yourself — on Uber, and to a new way of working with a world of talent today.