People as a Service in the Brave New World

People as a Service

Ever since the industrial revolution, Western Society has been fixated on consumerism and there has been no shortage of sellers for the hoards of buyers. But who started this?

Let’s take a long hard look in the mirror

Yes, it was you and I that started this age of consumerism, well not actually us but people just like us. We wanted more and visionary business men built factories to enable the mass production needed to fulfill our insatiable appetites for consumer goods. It would have been an exciting time in those early days of consumerism, getting access to the things only the rich and high borne could afford. Things that had typically been hand crafted and were one off’s. These days consumerism is a little more mundane unless you are still chasing the prestige of being the ‘first’ and lurking on crowd funding sites such as Indiegogo or Kickstarter.

The industrial age enabled the soon to be middle class of consumers. Those that could live a life of luxury on a moderate wage. Of course large factories require larger work forces as everything was still handmade, just at a bigger scale. The people now with jobs spend their money on the very things they made in those factories.

A modern day equivalent is Walmart, which recognise when setting up a store in smaller towns, a large portion of their customers work in the stores and by giving them jobs they also create loyal customers. Its a win-win for consumerism.

Factories made countries powerful because with factories you can mass produce anything, including war machines and over a century after the industrial revolution we had our first World War. Did factories influence the brash nature of some dictators who surely wouldn’t have stood a chance without the mass production capabilities of a factory.

So fast forward a few hundred years and here we are today, the most powerful countries in the world still have factories and consumerism has never been so prevalent. So much so its thought to be killing the planet.

Can we live in a world without consumerism?

Sure we can but its going to take a catastrophic event, such as a nuclear war, a massive asteroid strike or an uncontrollable disease before anything changes because we like our lives just the way they are. Buying stuff makes us happy doesn’t it? A Minimalist says otherwise.

Minimalism is a movement that is growing worldwide. It’s a movement that values experiences over physical goods. It shows that one person can as  happy with rich experiences, compared to a person who attempts to make their life rich with the things that surround them. However, only one of these models is sustainable and the other is clearly not.

If we all lived a life full of rich experiences how would this change the economic model. It is certain we would still be consumers, but this time it would be consumers of services. Services offered by people for people.

The revolution has already started.

As we value time more and more, we will start to look for people to provide services that give us back our time, and in return we might offer different services that makes us more money. This movement already exists in the form of Virtual Assistants.

A Virtual Assistant is a worker that does the tasks that give you no return on investment for your time. It might be responding to emails, producing video or researching information. Necessary tasks that take time and yet you do not directly make money from them. Maybe you can add value during the packaging process. If those are your core skills then you are best to deliver value with them instead of spending time on the mundane tasks.

People as a Service (PaaS)

If I had to define what service a Virtual Assistance provides, its simply on-demand resources. However, a Virtual Assistant could work with a number of clients and might only be needed on an ad-hoc basis. Could we all provide small discrete on-demand services instead of working set 9-5 hours?

It’s an interesting question and is only limited by a change in mindset. A lot of large corporations provide after hours IT Support which is very on-demand. So the model is possible, but those same companies don’t provide the same flexible working conditions during office hours. Why?

It’s the old way of thinking and the belief that you are working hard when you are at work is more tangible than if you are working from home, wherever that might be.

But with People as a Service, the model already works. Unfortunately, the corporate world is slow to move and is unable to adopt change quickly, so its up to you and I to adopt the PaaS model and prove its the way of the future. We can do this by developing the Virtual Assistants sphere into something that is utilized by more than just entrepreneurs.

There is a competitive advantage to using people from other countries, such as the Phillipines, Malaysia or India and by utilising Virtual Assistants you are building their net-worth and ultimately raising their standard of living. Consider this the testbed for People as a Service. A model that when refined will enable you and I to offer our services to many customers instead of just one company as if it was just a normal part of your day.

Yes, we are all destined to become consumers, but some may choose to consume services instead of products. Money will still flow through the economy, but not necessarily with a physical product as part of the transaction. Can you see yourself being a consumer of services in the future, paid for by the services that you offer others?

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