Mobile Application Boom Illustrates the Changing Nature of Work

Jan 7, 2013

mobile-applicationsA recent article in The New York Times headlined “As Boom Lures App Creators, Tough Part Is Making a Living” illustrates the ongoing changes in the state of work in the United States. The article noted that “… the ranks of computer software engineers, including app writers, increased nearly 8 percent in 2010 to more than a million, according to the latest available government data for that category.” Many of these workers in this booming segment of the economy are creating applications for mobile phones and tablet computers.

But even in one of the fastest-growing sectors of the U.S. economy, the jobs in the sector follow a different pattern. This job boom is not like manufacturing booms of decades past where workers had rising wages and promising employment prospects. Rather, the article notes: “… only a small minority of developers actually make a living by creating their own apps….”

I think we are approaching (or perhaps are already in the midst of) a major cultural shift in the Western world. More and more, individuals need to work for multiple companies at one time to secure a living. They need to be their own advocate to create multiple jobs that match their skill sets. The shift has long been underway where fewer workers can rely on one company to employ them until retirement and secure them afterward.

Value creation is shifting to the level of the individual. How people earn a living is totally shifting to the individual instead of the company.

Walter Kiechel, a former managing editor at Fortune magazine and editorial director of Harvard Business Review, often said and wrote that people should no longer see themselves as employees (even if they’re employed) but as an “Inc.” They must continually market and sell their own assets, aim for customer (i.e., bosses, peers, subordinates) satisfaction, and conduct themselves as though they were an independent company.

Another change confronting today’s workers is that workforce competition is international. So adding to the complexity are financial, cultural and geographic considerations – both for workers and for those who hire people.

What do you think of the idea that workers need be their own advocate to create multiple jobs that match their skill sets?

— Sharon Emek, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO



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