how technology is transforming the way we work, specially for the professional & creative services industry; creating digital content by collaborating across the world and delivering globally
I am not one of those who confirms with ‘the way it is‘ paradigm too well, not a ‘rebel without cause’ either or even much of a rebel. I am comfortable like most people with established ways, but do end up questioning if there is a better way, when I feel something has not caught up with the pace of development.
So, lets focus on the topic for today, Virtual Business. Let me start by defining what do I consider as Virtual Business, ‘If a business uses online means to find, cater, deliver and support its clients, without overly depending on traditional brick & mortar setup of office, full time employees and other facilities, I define them as Virtual Business’. Please note, I am not saying they should not have physical office or employees, but those are not the primary means of delivering value and delight to their customer. Most successful Virtual Business probably would be Amazon, but in this post I would like to focus on Virtual Business that relates to the ‘creative industry’, as defined by wikipedia “The creative industries refers to a range of economic activities which are concerned with the generation or exploitation of knowledge and information.” Which includes everyone from digital artist to architects to software developers and book writers.
The creative industry as I see it is pre-disposed to be virtual. Writers and painters were always working alone in some remote location ever since, however those into software development, architecture, marketing research, advertising, etc., till date have not totally given up the office, employee and other old world ties. This is changing rapidly and I am betting on this industry moving more and more virtual, capitalising on globalisation, internet and technology in general. Below are my list of 10 reasons (not in any particular order) why creative industry will go virtual, and why we are building the first and only integrated tool to conduct your business virtually, check out more at Xamun:
- Freedom to work from where you like, when you like. Geography, timezone, and office hours are things of the past. Nowadays, you can work where your heart is – by the beach, with your children at home, on a mountain cabin. When you are working on ‘digital output, why should you be constrained by one physical location to work from?
- Economic realities demand lightweight, flexible cost structure to be competitive in the global market today. Full-time employees tied to real-estate and other constraints limits the options of how fast you can scale up or down to handle market opportunities across the world.
- Global Talent Pool: there is no monopoly on skill and knowledge, with internet as the great equaliser, its a loss if teams do not leverage on the best talents where ever they are.
- Global Market: not only traditional Multinational Companies, but even small to mid-size companies are operating in multiple geographies, when they buy service they don’t limit themselves to the head-office but look across the world for the best deal they can get. With the digital nature of the output, geographic borders do not matter anymore.
- Intertwining of various output towards the final product: the expected final outputs from different companies in creative industry are increasingly intertwining. These days, web apps have graphics, 3D, video, gamification all mixed together, and clear division of expertise are not easy to maintain among service providers. Therefore, collaborative efforts among virtual teams coming from various creative firms are necessary to address specific needs of clients.
- International Payment online (Paypal): money is the lifeline of any business, and one factor that made it difficult to do cross-border trade a couple of decades ago was the control on the money by different governments. Globalisation has made money exchange much easier in the real world, and new online payment options like Paypal, Google Checkout etc, have even made paying in smaller amounts a reality. This has to be one of the pivotal developments for Virtual Business.
- Desegregation of Work-Life: work life balance is perhaps thing of the past. If you choose to work in a profession that you would probably do for free, your intrinsic motivation does not require you to separate your work and life, unlike in the past. With the freedom to choose your workplace and how many hours you want to put in, work and life can be interwoven into a single fabric. Working parents, single parents and the growing number of women in the workforce require the creative industry to think beyond full-time office and work hours, focusing on productivity and output instead.
- Mobility of Skill set, international travel & open borders: the fact of the matter is people are travelling more, not just looking for work, but because they want to, and with the lifestyle of freelancing and remote working, you dont have to be on vacation, to travel.
- Maturing buyer readiness for freelancers and virtual businesses: few years ago it was much harder to win a project for a freelancer or a virtual company competing against branded firms, but it’s changing rapidly. Personal brands of experts are getting easier to be sold, and more companies across the world are opening up to the idea of buying services from people they have never seen before (or might not see ever). The volume of transaction and rapid growth on sites like oDesk, eLance etc are proof of this.
- Technology tools and ecosystems: there are tools like oDesk, Basecamp, online accounting, etc, which Virtual Businesses have been patching up to cater to business growth. Next wave would be of systems that allow a seamless, integrated experience in conducting business online (shameless plug for Xamun), perhaps connecting with some of the tools of your choice. Legal systems globally also are getting better at recognising Intellectual Property rights and ownership, and countries and states have already started structuring themselves to attract Virtual Companies to register with them, removing certain constraints that restricted ‘true virtual companies’.
I can try and add some more, but I think those 10 points would be compelling proof about the growth of virtual business and how creative industry is gearing up to capitalise on it. I believe leveraging on the concepts of Virtual Business, global marketplace and lean startup, more and more knowledge workers from all parts of the world would grow and prosper as entrepreneurs adding value to their customers and their own economy; at xamun we believe we can help them and ourselves by providing tools and support in making virtual business a reality.