Ownership is so 20th Century.
In a world of Uber, Airbnb, streamed music and e-books, our ties to physical belongings are growing ever more tenuous. In most major economies, services are starting to dominate the GDP charts, and we live in a unique age of interconnectivity.
Enter the business “owner.”
They have built their company up from humble beginnings, carefully managing every aspect by keeping a wary eye on what is going on. Things go wrong, as is always the case, but their accumulated experience sees them through. They know that if they slide on an icy bend in the winter, the right thing to do is to steer into the bend, not away from it. They keep from crashing because they know how to look after their car.
The interesting thing is that not many of them would trust their car to others in such a situation, which is understandable, but would they trust their “car” to a driving professional who has done this sort of manoeuvre thousands of times? Some of them might, but far from all of them would be happy to hand over the wheel.
When we own something that matters to us, we find it incredibly difficult to give up control. When there is an emotional attachment, the importance of ownership seems to be that much more significant. We give up our cars, houses and books without a problem, but when it comes to things that truly make us feel something, it is that little bit harder. Yet, much in the way that parents have entrusted our children to babysitters for decades, and as we put our pets in kennels when we go on holiday, we are actually also used to giving away control of the things that matter.
It is simply a matter of habit.
The B2B outsourcing industry is developing along much the same lines, acquiring the habit as more companies understand the benefits. Bit by bit, as companies increasingly outsource more services, outsourcing is becoming increasingly essential to run a lean and flexible ship.
A decade ago it would be unthinkable that your accountant might sit in another city and not be an intimate part of your team. How can you possibly outsource your marketing to someone who doesn’t live and breathe your brand? Even external recruiters took a while to trust (if they are indeed trusted now), as it seems hard to imagine that anyone will be better at recruiting for your company than you.
As more skilled professionals take control of their own destinies, the momentum towards outsourcing all sorts of services is unstoppable. You can hire true experts in their field, concentrate their expertise where (and when) you really need it, and not bear the costs (financial, emotional and otherwise) of a permanent employee.
Which services could you be outsourcing? Which should you never outsource? These are fascinating questions currently occupying the minds of CEOs across the world.
Peter Giltrap, Director of EdenGroup