Monday, October 24, 2016

TechSavvy: Competing for Talent in the Platform Economy

Competing Talent Platform EconomyMIT Sloan Management Review, October 24, 2016

by Theodore Kinni


Platforms are all the rage these days. Companies are being urged to create their own — √† la Uber and Airbnb. But platform advocates often take one thing for granted: a seemingly infinite supply of workers who will happily do the platform operator’s bidding in return for, well, whatever the operator is willing to give them.

That may not be a sound assumption, especially as the competition heats up in platform markets that prove viable. Witness Sheelah Kolhatkar’s article on Uber’s fast-growing rival, Juno, in The New Yorker. “Juno’s business model is to take what Uber has created and appropriate it,” writes Kolhatkar. “Most of what Juno does is predicated on the fact that many drivers feel mistreated by Uber. … If Uber seems cold and impersonal, Juno will smother its drivers with attention. If Uber has raised its commission — the part of each fare that the company keeps — Juno will set a much lower one.”

As the folks at Uber think about how to frame a response to the wooing away of its drivers, they might want to read the new report on platform workers from the Institute for the Future. The IFTF did an ethnographic study of a select group of platform workers. It found the workers fit into seven distinct archetypes and that there are seven qualities that define the platform working experience.

The study also found out what platform workers care about. Their top three concerns: income potential; control over choosing which jobs to take; and work frequency, immediacy of payment, and convenience.

Uber isn’t the only company that should be reading the IFTF report. Its battle for drivers suggests that eventually all successful platform companies will have to compete for contract workers. So they better get to know them. Read the rest here.

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