Will the digital revolution, and its current manifestation in Cloud computing and platform-based work, inexorably lead to the elimination of jobs and work due to automation. Are new opportunities for work opening? Should we be thinking in terms of conventional work or is value creation the key? Certainly, nearly all firms are experiencing intense competition leading to commoditization based principally upon price. In the first section of this paper, we explore the pathways opened as cloud computing, transforms the way both goods and services are innovated, produced, and distributed. Production now has two aspects; classically understood manufacturing and ICT-enabled services, activities and virtual goods, both of which can be transformed to escape a commodity trap. As firms in advanced countries seek to sustain advantage in global markets, their efforts alter not only the terms of competition, but the character of work. The second section speculates upon the ways in which the cloud, as a platform, is transforming the nature of work, jobs, and employment. The emergence of cloud-based platforms such as, Airbnb, the Apple app store, Github, Google, LinkedIn, and Uber is redefining the forms and nature of value creation. Paradoxically, given that Google monetizes peoples’ searches, Facebook and LinkedIn monetize posts, Github monetizes open source software creation, and App stores monetize software creations, it is also possible to argue that more value than ever is being created, even while traditional notions of employment are being challenged. This suggests that as a consequence of the implementation of cloud-based strategies; an entirely new category of work organization, which we term, the “Platform Economy” is emerging.
December 20, 2014