Thursday, September 17, 2015

Size Matters Not

This week's blog is written by our director, Dr Neil Roodyn 

Recently a few things have come together that have me thinking about a question I get asked a lot; 'how big is the company'. Sometimes the question comes in different forms, 'how many developers work there', or 'how many UX designers are in the team', inevitably they come down to a question about the number of people available to work on a project or deliver a solution. The more rigorous form of this questions comes in vendor or supplier questionnaires that ask for a diagram of the organization chart for the organization.

Before I get into a discussion that this question is at best pointless, I would like to take a trip back in time to review how business (especially, but not specifically in technology) has changed in the last 100 years.

The evolution of technology has meant we can as do more with less 'resources'. I put resources in quotes because I have loathing for calling people a resource, they are human beings, calling people a resource belittles their value. Yet I am also including other assets in this bundle of 'resources', including computer power, machinery costs, printing costs, marketing, sales, etc….

For example if you wanted to print out 10,000 copies of a professional color flyer for an event 100 years ago, you would have needed some people to help you with design and layout. Then obtain access to some expensive printing equipment  and people to operate that equipment. Today you can spend an evening at home on your laptop, download countless free templates, layout your flyer as you desire and send it to be printed by email, and delivered within a couple of days to your work place. Of course you can also go to countless online resources (such as Odesk or Fiverr) and find someone who will put the whole thing together for you at a low price. Also you probably wouldn’t bother to actually print it any more, instead it would an email newsletter, or web ad. With the capability of profiling people online, it also means that you might only need 1000 targets to get the desired result, rather than 10,000, as you know so much more about the people with whom you are communicating.

The point is you can do a lot more with a lot less and this is validated in the  Scott Galloway talk 'Who is the Fifth Horseman?' . Galloway points out that technology companies that apply technology internally to help drive their own business are managing to reach very high revenues per employee, Amazon generating $10M in revenue per 17 employees and Apple making $10M in revenue for every 5 employees. While the rest of this talk is fascinating and worth watching. A big take away for me was this small number of people required to achieve great results. Technology is the enabler here, the ability to deliver more with less.

I have recently had some interesting conversations with technologists and investors in the heart of the technology world, Silicon Valley. They are discussing the need for rapid growth and old school thinking that in order to be successful you need to have a fast growth company, and fast growth in traditional terms means, people and 'resources'. It is a common concept that in order to scale up the business you need more people, but is it still true?

Read the full article here

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