We’re capping off our 2010 Year in Review not by reflecting on the past, but looking towards the future of work as we see it. You’ve probably noticed in our year-end review and throughout our quarterly Online Employment Reports a shift in demand for specific skills in the Elance marketplace—but what trends are we really looking at, beyond the numbers?
Here are some of our predictions for the new year:
Digital Portfolios Push Resumes to the Brink of Extinction
Simply put, digital portfolios provide businesses and employers far more context and insight into a potential hire than any traditional resume ever could. Case in point: Throughout the course of the past year, records on Elance were continually broken as the number of individual online portfolio assets surpassed 1.2 million and the number of online worker profiles exceeded 300,000. In 2011, expect referencing of verified work history, digital portfolios, online test scores, online reviews, social graph and social media footprint to become the standard for hiring short or long-term employees.
Online Work Flourishes, More Businesses Hire in the Cloud
Every year, advancements in technology continue to take communication to unprecedented heights. Businesses both large and small will adopt more robust online tools, like shared digital workrooms, real-time collaboration, telepresence and online employment platforms to hire the people they need to get the job done. Online work won’t be just a buzzword in 2011 – it will be the way to do business, period.
Web Design: Desktop Ditched for Mobile
Back in the day, the first step was build a website, then build a mobile app. However, consumers and businesses in 2010 have made it clear: With a 98% increase in demand for mobile developers on Elance, touchscreen tablets and mobile devices are becoming the ultimate number one priority. In 2011, it will be absolutely key for businesses, startups and entrepreneurs looking to construct new websites or revamp existing ones to design with mobile in mind. Expect to see simpler, cleaner, more straightforward web designs and a shift in design philosophy that puts mobile first, desktop second.
Traditional Marketing is Dead
The numbers do not lie. In 2010, businesses have signaled a shift in investments for freelance talent that has gone from traditional marketing techniques like direct mail, telemarketing and other forms of traditional marketing, to cutting edge forms of promotion and customer acquisition, like Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Marketing. Next year, traditional marketing will become even more obsolete as businesses will be drawn towards viral and social marketing methods.
What are your predictions for 2011? Post your thoughts below and then be sure to stop by and read our other predictions for next year in the Elance 2010 Year in Review, which also features The Top Freelancing Cities in America, The Best and Worst Moments in Work, and more.
This morning, the latest contractor to join our crew asked me: "Why does MTV want to work with us? They have amazing designers and are a huge company. What can we do that they haven't completely mastered?" It was a fair question. Why does MTV outsource work? Or AOL, SAP, NBC or any of our other customers? Is it because any company with a three letter all-cap acronym can't built its own technology? Nope, that's not it at all. We've personally run into 6 different reasons. I wouldn't be surprised if there were others, and I'd be stoked to hear all about it in the comments. Ok, let's kick it off:
The idea/strategy was pitched and included your services.
They are stuck.
The internal team lacks a specific specialty.
Politics prevent internal allocations.
Accountability. We just get things done.
"Help us [obiwan kanobi]. We have more tasks than people." This is by far the most obvious answer. Some times, they are just plain busy. Of course, that doesn't stop executives from thinking up innovative solutions to company problems. It certainly doesn't stop customer service from digging up issues with their applications. The needs just keep rolling in.
At SXSW, we heard a speaker from Google describe project managers as having either "a s**t funnel, or a s**t umbrella". Either they are trying to drink from the fire hose of requests and steer everything, or they are trying to protect the focus of their team to get some key project completed. Either way, their job is to effectively use available resources to accomplish the most things with the highest business value. Sometimes, companies have more money available than people. And that is where we fit in. You, my friend, are a tool in their belt. They have a deadline, a scope and a budget. The pm is your best friend. That is actually who contracts you and pays you bills. Executives are great and are often the person who can offer a way in. Project managers are the freelancer's real customer and keep the door open.
The idea was pitched and included your services.
The MTV project came though a media strategy company. We are a sub contractor, the execution arm of the project team. They approached MTV with an idea: "You could increase your business by tapping into this specific market segment in this way. " Executives at MTV examined the proposal, deemed it valid and agreed. Design was included in the strategy proposal. Enter Shane, Peter, Reid & Crew.
I love this sales method. No RFPs. No competition. Simply find a way to add value to a company, get to the right person and then pitch the idea. Its a phenomenal approach to gigs with great companies. If the idea is yours and they like it (as long as you can back your ability to deliver), the project is yours to implement.
They are stuck.
I used to ask one of my early mentors every time we met, "What do you know about my business that I don't?" It is fairly common on long projects to be so involved and married to assumptions and ideas, that you suddenly end up trapped. You can't see anything past your own shoes.
In 2020, you, those you work with, and nearly everyone else that is digitally connected will access data, software applications, and all information through “cloud”-based services like Google Docs, Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, Box.net, and more, according to a recent Pew Internet & American Life Project Study.
Considering how much data the general public digests through the cloud in today’s world, the majority of experts agree that this trend will only move forward by the end of the upcoming decade.
Out of an expert sample group of 371, 72 percent agreed that by 2020, most people will be completing their work through web-based applications via computers and mobile phones as opposed to utilizing a general purpose PC. In contrast, 25 percent disagreed by saying most people will still be doing their work the old fashioned way – with software running on a general-purpose PC. As for cloud applications? Those will be useful, but “the most innovative and important applications will run on (and spring from) a PC operating system.”
Why the shift? Russ Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD, attributed it to carrier distribution and promotion. “In order to compete with the iPhone, Verizon Wireless has expanded its buy-one-get-one offer beyond RIM devices to now include all of their smartphones.” Additionally, one can speculate that the continued arrival of new, high profile devices at a frequent pace, such as the upcoming HTC Incredible and the HTC EVO 4G, are a key driver in Android growth in adoption rate.
The effects of this trend are palpable in the world of online work. According to the Elance Online Talent Report, which follows the latest trends in the world of online work, the growth in demand for skilled expert Android developers outpaced any other specific mobile platform throughout the first quarter of 2010 (up 10 positions), including the Apple iPhone (up 3 positions).
Last week, Apple CEO Steve Jobs published a 1,500+ word article titled “Thoughts on Flash” highlighting his and Apple’s collective decision to continue to leave Adobe’s Flash technology off of their products. His argument details six main reasons, which include (from Apple.com):
Adobe Flash is a 100% proprietary product that is not open and is completely controlled by Adobe.
While most online video is Flash based, H.264 is a more modern alternative that is widely available.
Flash has significant reliability, security, and performance issues. (He even claims the number one reason why Macs crash is due to Flash.)
Flash technologies require software decoding, thus eating an unnecessarily large amount of battery life.
Flash was designed in a world when input devices simply comprised of mice and keyboards and not touch.
The most important reason to Jobs: Flash is a third-party layer of software that hinders the progress of development and the platforms it resides on, like the iPhone OS, for example.
While most of these arguments can be seen as thoroughly valid points, several of them can be fiercely debated, and recently, some of them have been.
First, Flash is neither entirely proprietary or entirely open – according to an article from Fast Company. Certain aspects of Flash are open source, like the SWF and FLV video formats and the Flex SDK, and some are not, like Flash IDE. But why the accusation of open vs. closed? Fast Company writes, “The open-vs.-closed argument isn't really what we're talking about here, anyway: Jobs only mentions it to negate the accusations that iPhone OS is 'too closed.' His real problems are technological (like battery life and touch).”
The U.S. labor market continues to mystify economists. U.S. GDP (gross domestic product) is growing briskly, but the Labor Department reports 20,000 jobs were eliminated last month alone. How can employers keep pace with increased demand for goods and services without adding to the payroll?
The not-so-simple answer: they can’t. Businesses are hiring; they simply have to given the current rate of economic growth. But the kind of workers they are hiring and the way in which they are hiring them has changed.
Consider this piece of data from the Labor Department’s recent report: the number of self-employed Americans grew by 126,000 in the last quarter. Add to that another telling statistic: the number of temporary jobs has increased by 250,000 in the last quarter. (The Labor Department consistently under-reports the rate of temporary job growth.)
Our so-called jobless recovery is nothing more than an illusion. What we are experiencing is a long-predicted structural change in the job market. In the span of a single generation, we’ve gone from “company man” to being our own man or woman, thanks, in part by, to advances in computer and telecommunications technology.
And it was made possible by changing attitudes toward work. Roiled by globalization, the rapid pace of technological change, and a boom and bust economy, many of today’s workers have found security in the idea of free agency. Job uncertainty has bred a worker that is more resilient, adaptable and entrepreneurial than his predecessors. People have traded in careers for gigs.
Employers, facing the uncertainty that comes with a downturn, have seen the advantages of a flexible workforce. With the Internet, the search for talented employees is no longer limited by geography.
Yes, the iPad is real. Very real. The “magical and revolutionary device”, as Steve Jobs puts it, features a 9.7-inch LED-backlight Multi-Touch display, Wi-Fi, a custom 1GHZ processor, and a ton of other standard Apple amenities you have grown to expect.
The device, which some say is just a giant iPod Touch, is designed to present the web, email, news, apps, e-magazines, and books in a new, even more-touchable form factor. And another bonus – right out of the box, the iPad will support all 140,000 apps available at the Apple App Store.
Speaking of apps, when the newest technology, devices, and platforms strike, the Elance community is right behind it. With the Droid and an army other Android devices joining the party in 2009, there’s no doubt that mobiles have been making huge news. And it shows. The Mobile category on Elance has grown nearly 200% in payments made throughout the course of last year, and it doesn’t show any sign of slowing down, especially with the announcement of the iPad.
Consequently, within mere moments of the announcement of the iPad, we began seeing iPad related jobs being posted, and that number is continuing to grow. Within 24 hours, we saw over 20 clients posting jobs looking for skilled iPad professionals, and as of right now, we have highest number of iPad-specific job posts out there on the web.
This just goes to show you – when cutting edge technology hits, Elance is where businesses, entrepreneurs, and skilled professionals go to get work done.
Earlier today, Apple sent out private invitations to reporters to a special event on January 27 asking reporters to “come see our latest creation” – many speculating that this will be the unveiling of the highly anticipated Apple Tablet and Touchscreen computers.
Although specifications are merely speculation at this point, the long standing rumor is that Apple will be launching a touch-screen device with a screen in the range of 7-to-10 inches designed to present a variety of multimedia content and internet browsing in a form factor with incredible aesthetic design you’ve come to expect from Steve Jobs and Co.
Some liken it to being an “iPhone on steroids,” however, this isn’t the only touchable device scheduled to show. According to another report that hit the wire this morning, it appears that Apple will also be entering the touchscreen PC market with the introduction of the 22-inch, touch-enabled iMac desktop computer later this year. Specifications on this device are similarly scarce, but its existence has been all but confirmed as of today.
Several thought-provoking questions still remain. First: What will be the operating system driving these new devices? Secondly, will we see an expansion in the iPhone application development market with a whole new set of apps specifically designed for the new tablet? And thirdly, with an uncanny adoption rate expected, will we be seeing the early stages of extinction for the mouse?
Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics published the November 2009 edition of “The Employment Situation” which states that the unemployment rate has unexpectedly fallen to 10% while hitting the lowest number of job losses in one month since the start of the recession in December 2007.
The Employment Situation is a snapshot of current employment, unemployment, and underemployment rates in the United States, and while on the surface November’s lower unemployment numbers may seem cut-and-dry, there's an interesting insight that pertains to the shift in online work that can be extrapolated from the report.
The good: Although job losses continued in the month of November, the number of actual jobs lost this month (11,000) is far lower than the previous three months (average 135,000). Additionally, the Brouwer notes that job losses for September and October were overestimated.
The not so good: Brouwer says, “Though the unemployment rate went down, the reduction was essentially a statistical change rather than a real improvement. It seems a number of people stopped looking for work and that — paradoxically — is why the unemployment rate went down. If you are unemployed, but not out looking for work, you are not counted as unemployed.”
In a world where market trends change by the millisecond, it's difficult to stay on top of what technologies, services, and other external forces are affecting business trends today. Rich Sloan, co-founder of StartupNation and its "Home-Based 100" contest, gives us a quick peek in to his latest findings in the StartupNation Q3 Marketing Trends e-Report.
One of the hallmark trends we’ve highlighted in the just-released StartupNation Q3 Marketing Trends e-Report is the value and effectiveness of “authenticity.” People are tired of being “marketed to.” Instead, they want to connect with real people and real companies that care about the world and care about people.
Part of this may be driven by the plummeting economy, providing people an opportunity to reflect on what really matters in their lives. With an economic downturn, it’s natural to hunker down, spend less and look for real meaning in what we do.
And with the proliferation of social media and social networking platforms, the online conversation is growing louder and louder. In such an environment, it’s difficult for any company to hide behind its walls and present a faceless voice.
Instead, you would be wise to adapt to the trends of openness and authenticity and to show your customers the real you.
This trend is evidenced in the way that company leaders are getting involved in the online discussion through Facebook, Twitter and other similar online vehicles. As examples, look at the success of Tim Berry, President of Palo Alto Software, or of Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, both of whom blog and Tweet regularly.
Similarly, look at the success of StartupNation member Heather Nolte, founder of the baby clothing company Glamajama. Heather is the face of the company, appearing in numerous YouTube videos, maintaining a Twitter feed and Facebook page, and blogging for StartupNation and Mom’s Can Launch.