November 15, 2018 |
Flatearthers around the world will be jumping with joy to hear that someone else has jumped on their bandwagon. On the BBC podcast Flintoff, Savage and The Ping Pong Guy, ex-England cricketer-turned-media darling Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff expressed his views that the world is flat based on certain assertions made by another podcast, The Flat Earthers. However, my take on the world being flat has nothing to do with the theories of stay-at-home conspiracy theorists but more to do with Tom Friedman’s view on globalisation as expressed in his book The World is Flat.
Bankers (no rhyming slang required) have long outsourced their back-end services to countries like India and the Philippines where people with a better grasp of English than most native English speakers provide enraged customers with polite and efficient customer service. However, the utilisation of these talented individuals and companies is not just the domain of larger corporations who want to become leaner and provide great customer service, while simultaneously raising prices and creating a stronger bottom line.
So, armed with Tim Ferriss’ excellent book, The 4-Hour Workweek (#4HWW), we have been experimenting with flat-earthing Figjam and what fun it has been. So a quick potted history: we employed a number of people and then had a cash flow crisis which meant that we then didn’t employ a number of people. Cash flow crisis remained, costs decreased to a minimum, we priced ourselves better, cash flow crisis became less of a crisis and we were buoyant again. “Hurrah!” we could have shouted, “Let’s employ people and provide great concepts and service.” In other words, let us learn nothing from the past and carry on in the same vein as most companies and people, blindly following societal expectations and inherent mediocrity.
But we didn’t. In this new flat world where there is an app for absolutely everything, we created a virtual infrastructure of services that we need to provide great concepts. So now we have people working ‘for’ us 24/7 all over the world, whilst we sleep and occasionally play golf, producing outstanding pieces of work that we pay a lot less for than we would have done previously. The problem is that insecurity and the fear of doing something different drives most people into mediocrity, a safe place full of pats on the back and sympathy. However, there is a different place where you leave your ego at the door and drive a model of efficiency and simplicity to a place that few visit.
How does this relate to the F&B industry? Well a company can outsource a lot of its shared service functionality and thereby save employing many people to stamp documents, and then re-stamp them again. The number of online point-of-sale technologies means that the back office can be in some of countries previously mentioned at a small percentage of the cost of full-time employment. But what about security, what about confidentiality, what about all of the other neuroses people can find to not doing this? Well given that these companies are used by global organisations, I think we can be sure that their data security is pretty tight and so the information should be secure.
The industry already outsources the majority of its set-up phase to a variety of consultants, designers and contractors, so why not outsource actual operations too? Imagine a well-designed room with a bar, many millennial types with beards, tattoos and smartphones, and oddly, many delivery drivers popping in and out. Now that is outsourcing in action – the customer just comes to a cool space and orders their own food. Less cost for the owner, less price for the customer and they still get to go out and meet other beards.
The next experiment in Operation Outsource is going to be employ a virtual assistant in India to deal with every task we can think of. So if you get an email from me that uses words way too complicated and clever, you will know that I didn’t write it, and actually I am vagabonding somewhere in the name of research. Actually, did I write this?
Try it, what have you got lose? Apart from more sleep and hair that is.