The Problem with People-as-a-Service, Human Clouds & Talent Networks

4.10.2015, Written by Annie Wang

Talent NetworksThese days everything, it seems, is something-as-a-service. Software as a service has become familiar. Platform as a Service have gained speed.  The Financial Times even published an article a while back with the ultimate recursive reduction saying it’s time for service-as-a-service. Now it is not uncommon to hear those in the talent and “human capital” communities speak about human clouds and talent networks.

While these terms have a certain efficient utility as descriptors, it is important that we never let them become proxies for the men and women with whom we engage.  While the focus on consummation of a project or task is a vital business objective, the people who complete those tasks and projects are more than the deliverables they upload, install or repair.

While it is not unreasonable for enterprises moving from fixed to variable cost models to seek competitive pricing for skills that are plentiful, the abundance of skill or expertise in one area should never dehumanize the people who have worked hard to develop those skills over many years.

Just because someone is a freelancer or contract worker does not mean that they’re a meat machine. It is important that enterprises engaging the massive talent of the freelancer movement work diligently to avoid the reduction of the contractor to the product s/he produces. This is one of the reasons we showcase company ratings with our unique “buyer snapshot”. The “Professionalism” rating you see in the image is derived from many factors, including how the freelancer feels s/he is treated.

Field Nation Buyer Ratings Snapshot
Buyer Snapshot

The advance of technology, connectivity, expertise, telecommuting, and big data all mean that terms like “people-as-a-service,” “talent networks” and “human clouds” are probably here to stay. But we all have a responsibility to treat each other with respect, honor and humanity even as we focus on results, accountability and getting work done.  What is amazing is that the best users we have are the ones who already do just that.

Here at Field Nation, we encourage contractors and the enterprises hiring those expert services to connect – even if remotely – and share experiences, recommendations and ideas for ways to make our businesses and lives better. Our user groups are alive with advice, experience sharing and chatter. With so much focus on how businesses can leverage the cloud to save on operating costs, it is important that we never lose sight of the people that make the new contingent and contract workforce the cornerstone of our new cloud economy.