In our last blog post, we spoke about the potentially huge role of transformational technologies to address last-mile resourcing barriers. We concluded that when you combine mobile networks, social media, cloud-based infrastructure, shared talent pools, and IoT, you not only break down the last mile resourcing barriers but in fact can make astronomical leaps into scaling innovative social enterprise solutions.
In this blog, we will provide insight on overall demographic shifts, and how they play an equally crucial role in addressing last-mile resourcing barriers. Demographic shifts often come with massive structural challenges, but also provide opportunities for transformational gains.
In relation to this, it would be helpful to first understand some key relevant trends:
- Purpose in Work – More and more people are retiring in their early 50s and even early 40s (we call this demographic group ‘early retirees’) seeking purpose & meaning in their professional endeavors. In spite of financial success, these people are feeling disenchantment that their corporate success is not resulting in a corresponding positive societal and/or environmental impact. They have accumulated tremendous capabilities (experience, network, skills, wealth, domain knowledge) to leverage, and are yearning for the right impact opportunities that fit with their persona.
- Globalization – Internet and social-media explosion has shrunk geographical boundaries. People are developing a much better and deeper appreciation of sustainability challenges and their global scope and hence find themselves acting more often in the ‘global citizen’ mold. This creates more opportunities to leverage talent across resourcing needs across all over the world.
- Fractionalization – With rapid adoption of virtualization technologies and the associated blurring of personal and professional lives, people are more and more comfortable with giving their time (partial bandwidths) for two main reasons – their own lives are being managed in numerous small time-slices, and secondly, virtual-office and real-time, collaboration technologies make it easy to do that. This is well evident in our ‘early retiree’ group opting to be advisors / mentors on as many as half-a-dozen start-ups. This provides a huge opportunity for harnessing partial bandwidths of a massive demographic segment.
For clarity on the implications of demographic shifts, let us break down the overall population into three simple demographic groups:
- Millennials and youth segment: It has been widely reported through survey after surveys, that this group is at the forefront in value-based decisions (whether about choosing the employer or buying products or being activists). As much as 70% of this segment is looking for participation in sustainability-related activities in a very tangible manner. Not small numbers by any means, and not a passive or marginal energy force either.
- Working-professionals: Although the most challenged group in terms of finding consistent off-the-job bandwidth for impact work, there is ample evidence of this group pooling together in very large numbers for large-scale transformative results. Wikipedia and Linux are two well-known examples where this segment has given their bandwidth along with their energy and capabilities. Further evidence is in rapid-growth of employer-sponsored volunteering, which is being fueled by employees themselves but also visible in the sheer number of hours being reported as well as diversity of activities.
- Early-retirees: As elaborated earlier, this group perhaps bring the most exciting combination of long-haul bandwidth availability (given their decision to transition to a life-with-purpose and with nearly 30+ years of productive life ahead), passion (driven by their soul-searched decision), and competencies (driven by hard-earned career success). Taken together, this segment presents the largest opportunity to leverage in overcoming the last-mile resourcing barrier.
We have a demographic shift that presents a large-scale human-resource capability that can be leveraged as a perfect answer to last-resource barrier, but full exploitation of it is not as simple.
Reality is that most of the people across these demographics, although in very large numbers (in terms of tens of millions in US alone), behave today as mostly ‘individual islands’. One individual might have 5-10 hours a week capacity for the next 2-3 months, with expertise in marketing, domain knowledge of NYC metro area, and passion for human-trafficking as a cause. Another individual might be living in a small rural town in Nebraska with capacity for 20-hours a week for 4-months with, domain knowledge of grass-lands, passion for sustainable harvesting, expertise in agri-finance, and willingness to lend $50k in financial resources. It is therefore no wonder that participation by these individuals is mostly transactional (i.e., discreet and disjointed volunteering activities with a short-fuse begin-and-end and little continuity). Further, there are several unmet needs of this broader audience that must be met before we can maximize the available potential: transparency (I.e., near real-time visibility on the progress and outcomes), sustained engagement to create deeper sense of participation and ‘feeling of vested ownership’, financial inclusiveness (I.e., sharing in value creation however miniscule that might be), flexibility (in adjusting to their other demands and responsibilities), and diversity of choices (to align with their current and evolving interests).
While no current platforms exist to address those unmet needs and effectively harness this highly distributed, diverse and dynamic capacity pool, CARBON believes its grassroots, ecosystem-driven, aggregation model leveraging well-known successful marketplace models (like Amazon, Etsy, Airbnb) provides that answer.
CARBON’S operating model seeks to leverage the existing vast sustainability-focused ecosystem of talented individuals who want to make a difference by building strategic path ways for ease of access. Since the CARBON model provides amplification and acceleration to all stakeholders– everyone wins at CARBON! Our shared-services infrastructure and underlying marketplace structure with built-in dynamic collaboration and team-structuring and management capabilities make it possible to match the right combination of resources to the right CARBON-Copy deployment with the right amount of resourcing help for the right amount of time. And all that with core DNA of transparency and financial inclusiveness. We are confident that CARBON can effectively aggregate and channel that erstwhile untapped capacity of millions of individual islands into a super-ecosystem ready to more than overcome the last-mile-resourcing barrier and change the inflection point in the sustainability battle. Come and join us to be part of that shared journey!