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July 2, 2013

Guest Blog: Overcoming the impossible

Peter Adekeye, CEO of Multiven, examines how crowdsourcing can make getting around IT skills shortages possible.

By Cbr Rolling Blog

Peter Adekeye

One of the things about being an entrepreneur is that you have to become an expert in the art of possible. But sometimes the recurring realities that serve to constrain you become too onerous and have to be tackled.

One of the constant gripes of the commercial world is skills shortages; the never-ending complaint even in the midst of a recession that companies ‘just can’t find enough of the right people’.

Like a chronic illness, it can be one of those things you just get used to, ignoring the constant frustration and the opportunity cost. Or you can choose to do something about it. It’s the sort of challenge I like. Every ‘problem’ is an opportunity.

It’s commonly said that the internet changes everything. It has and it does, but we often don’t ask what it could do if we re-thought our approach to the way we organise our business. Amazon, Apple, eBay, Spotify and their peers have proven that by re-thinking the way they go to market they can disrupt whole ecosystems.

And so it is with skills shortages. Western governments, in particular, constantly lament their inability to produce the motivation, or drive the social re-engineering that will produce enough skilled people to fuel the IT industry. And, no matter how many policies are created or how much money pumped into educational initiatives, the shortage persists.

I’m neither a politician nor an educationist but I am someone who has been involved in the Internet networking industry all my life. It’s an industry where the skills shortage is acute. The issue is not how to create more of a precious resource, it’s how to use that resource better – in a way that suits both the industry served and the people that serve it.

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The reality is that expert network engineers tend to be free spirits who love the challenge of problem solving almost as much as they love sharing skills and demonstrating expertise to their peers. They don’t think about a world with conventional physical borders, they inhabit the boundless virtual world of IP.

Yet conventional approaches try to cram these experts into a shift-driven, battery-hen technical support centre existence. What happens, then, when you offer such people a work-where-and-when-you please, choose-what-you-work-on, payment-by-results way of working? They love it. Such an approach transcends the artificial industrial age barriers of location, working days, daily commuting and even retirement. If they have an internet connection and want to contribute, they can.

This way, engineers make a positive choice on their work-life balance causing productivity and motivation to soar and with it, customer satisfaction – the engineers only get paid when the customers confirm that the problem is solved. That’s what Multiven enables – crowdsourcing expertise in action.

This approach is a revolution in itself for those trying to get optimum performance out of the IP networks that underpin their business. It’s a model that could be applied to any area where high-level intellectual skills and knowledge is applied to problem solving.Medicine, law, space exploration, research and development, business consulting of all sorts – the list is almost endless. It’s all about using the power of the internet to access resources more efficiently, delivering a better level of service and connecting experts to the people that need the expertise, so achieving the previously impossible.

As the ‘Internet of things’ expands into trillions of IP-enabled devices, while the population of Internet engineers remain limited, we can only successfully enjoy ubiquitous Internet connectivity by embracing revolutionary new ways of working smarter.

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