These days everything, it seems, is something-as-a-service. Software as a service has become familiar. We use web mail like Gmail, online CRM like Salesforce.com and tools like Quickbooks to mange accounting. Platform as a Service with tools like Amazon AWS, Windows Azure and Rackspace have gained speed.
But what about people as a service?
People as a service actually has a long history. Temp and staffing firms are the old legacy model of people-as-a-service. They provided skilled labor on demand, usually for prolonged periods of time. Often the goal of the temp was to get hired permanently. More recently, offshore, rapid prototyping and consulting shops provided people-as-a-service. These engagements were governed by large SOWs (statements of work), multiple, waterfall-style project management and long development and production cycles.
But now the situation has changed. People are more highly skilled with deeper expertise and narrower areas of focus. Skilled contractors are not mere staff-augmentation where any warm-body will do. They are entrepreneurs unto themselves. On the flip side, businesses large and small are increasingly favoring focus over full value-chain control. That means they’re shedding jobs, departments and products once a vital part of their business. The advance of technology – from value chain management, to just-in-time inventory to the opportunities of remote workforce has changed the ecosystem of work.
The advance of technology, connectivity, expertise, telecommuting and big data all mean that people-as-a-service is a reality today.
Companies like Field Nation are making people-as-a-service personable. They are doing a good job of humanizing human resources and ensuring that the social is kept as part of social business. Field Nation encourages contractors and the businesses hiring those expert services to connect – even if remotely – and share experiences, recommendations and ideas for ways to make business better.
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 people-as-a-service a cornerstone of our new cloud economy.
Image: Creative Commons Attribution by Flickr user Alex E. Proimos