What is Digital Labor? #innovation #automation

Several things put me in a unique situation to learn. One is teaching at a University. I hope it doesn’t seem odd that when I teach I learn. There is a lot of preparation and the University gives me access to some great minds and thinking. The other is my level of travel. I go to all of the big cities in the US at least two to three times a year and I get to explore those sites.

OK?

Traveling and teaching came together this spring in order to attach an interesting phrase to something I had been working on… Digital Labor.

Teaching

In my class, Entrepreneurship, I like give the students tangible evidence that they are being innovative. Innovation is one of those things, especially at a university, that get used and over used to the point that people really don’t know what it is but are afraid to admit it. I wanted to break that cycle by using principles like jumping curves and creative destruction. Jumping curves is something I learned from Guy Kawasaki. The idea is if you listen to your customers on innovation you will make marginal improvements. If you are truly innovative you will make gigantic improvements like going from the ice factory to the in home ice maker or the flip phone to the smart phone or my favorite today (with 90+ degree weather) the hand-held fans to indoor air conditioner. Creative destruction is the improvements in the work world that makes tasks or even entire jobs obsolete. These principles are proof that innovation is in action.

Travel

On a trip to NYC I stop into a cigar shop and had a seat knowing that I would meet a kindred spirit for a smoke and a conversation. It always happens and the conversation are positive and it helps me forget how homesick I am. I struck up a conversation with business man and he asked me what I do. I told him I help companies automate their accounting process. He got a very pained look on his face and I said, “do you know about automation?” He said “I sure do” because he started a consulting practice to help businesses consume more automation. Now we are new best friends and for the next two hours engaged in all kinds of conversation on automation. Part of that conversation had him schooling me on the idea of a digital labor force and his unique perspective on how it would impact jobs in the future.

What is it?

It’s simple in principle and complex in application. The idea of digital labor is to put software into as many manual task as possible. The problem comes in (thanks to Hollywood) that if you do this the software will somehow take over and humans will be left without work. In my own business the net effect are people are willing to sit at a computer terminal and do data entry when that is completely a waste of time. The application of digital labor is to make the workforce smarter with higher paying jobs. This has played out over the centuries from the secretary pools of the seventies and eighties to female CEOs and hundreds on an assembly line to highly skilled engineers monitoring robotics. The future will continue like this and my hope for people is they not focus on what they think they are going to lose and focus on how they can better themselves.

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people who started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information

What is Digital Labor? #innovation #automation

Several things put me in a unique situation to learn. One is teaching at a University. I hope it doesn’t seem odd that when I teach I learn. There is a lot of preparation and the University gives me access to some great minds and thinking. The other is my level of travel. I go to all of the big cities in the US at least two to three times a year and I get to explore those sites.

OK?

Traveling and teaching came together this spring in order to attach an interesting phrase to something I had been working on… Digital Labor.

Teaching

In my class, Entrepreneurship, I like to give the students tangible evidence that they are being innovative. Innovation is one of those things, especially at a university, that gets used and overused to the point that people really don’t know what it is but are afraid to admit it. I wanted to break that cycle by using principles like jumping curves and creative destruction. Jumping curves is something I learned from Guy Kawasaki. The idea is if you listen to your customers on innovation you will make marginal improvements. If you are truly innovative you will make gigantic improvements like going from the ice factory to the in-home ice maker or the flip phone to the smartphone or my favorite today (with 90+ degree weather) the hand-held fans to an indoor air conditioner. Creative destruction is the improvements in the work world that make tasks or even entire jobs obsolete. These principles are proof that innovation is in action.

Travel

On a trip to NYC, I stop into a cigar shop and had a seat knowing that I would meet a kindred spirit for a smoke and a conversation. It always happens and the conversation is positive and it helps me forget how homesick I am. I struck up a conversation with businessman and he asked me what I do. I told him I help companies automate their accounting process. He got a very pained look on his face and I said, “do you know about automation?” He said “I sure do” because he started a consulting practice to help businesses consume more automation. Now we are new best friends and for the next two hours engaged in all kinds of conversation on automation. Part of that conversation had him schooling me on the idea of a digital labor force and his unique perspective on how it would impact jobs in the future.

What is it?

It’s simple in principle and complex in application. The idea of digital labor is to put software into as many manual tasks as possible. The problem comes in (thanks to Hollywood) that if you do this the software will somehow take over and humans will be left without work. In my own business, the net effect is people are willing to sit at a computer terminal and do data entry when that is completely a waste of time. The application of digital labor is to make the workforce smarter with higher paying jobs. This has played out over the centuries from the secretary pools of the seventies and eighties to female CEOs and hundreds on an assembly line to highly skilled engineers monitoring robotics. The future will continue like this and my hope for people is they do not focus on what they think they are going to lose and focus on how they can better themselves.

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people who started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information

What is Digital Labor? #innovation #automation

Several things put me in a unique situation to learn. One is teaching at a University. I hope it doesn’t seem odd that when I teach I learn. There is a lot of preparation and the University gives me access to some great minds and thinking. The other is my level of travel. I go to all of the big cities in the US at least two to three times a year and I get to explore those sites.

OK?

Traveling and teaching came together this spring in order to attach an interesting phrase to something I had been working on… Digital Labor.

Teaching

In my class, Entrepreneurship, I like give the students tangible evidence that they are being innovative. Innovation is one of those things, especially at a university, that get used and over used to the point that people really don’t know what it is but are afraid to admit it. I wanted to break that cycle by using principles like jumping curves and creative destruction. Jumping curves is something I learned from Guy Kawasaki. The idea is if you listen to your customers on innovation you will make marginal improvements. If you are truly innovative you will make gigantic improvements like going from the ice factory to the in home ice maker or the flip phone to the smart phone or my favorite today (with 90+ degree weather) the hand-held fans to indoor air conditioner. Creative destruction is the improvements in the work world that makes tasks or even entire jobs obsolete. These principles are proof that innovation is in action.

Travel

On a trip to NYC I stop into a cigar shop and had a seat knowing that I would meet a kindred spirit for a smoke and a conversation. It always happens and the conversation are positive and it helps me forget how homesick I am. I struck up a conversation with business man and he asked me what I do. I told him I help companies automate their accounting process. He got a very pained look on his face and I said, “do you know about automation?” He said “I sure do” because he started a consulting practice to help businesses consume more automation. Now we are new best friends and for the next two hours engaged in all kinds of conversation on automation. Part of that conversation had him schooling me on the idea of a digital labor force and his unique perspective on how it would impact jobs in the future.

What is it?

It’s simple in principle and complex in application. The idea of digital labor is to put software into as many manual task as possible. The problem comes in (thanks to Hollywood) that if you do this the software will somehow take over and humans will be left without work. In my own business the net effect are people are willing to sit at a computer terminal and do data entry when that is completely a waste of time. The application of digital labor is to make the workforce smarter with higher paying jobs. This has played out over the centuries from the secretary pools of the seventies and eighties to female CEOs and hundreds on an assembly line to highly skilled engineers monitoring robotics. The future will continue like this and my hope for people is they not focus on what they think they are going to lose and focus on how they can better themselves.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people who started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information

People Aren’t Natural Innovators – What? #APAutomation #Fintech #SaaS #Entrepreneurship

I can’t tell you how many times in the last few days I have heard that we are in an innovation society. It seems to be all around. My ears are tuned to this word because at UNC-Charlotte, I am at the point in the class I teach on Entrepreneurship where I am teaching innovation. I am fortunate in my class to stick to strategy and principles that make great entrepreneurs and not thinks like a pitch deck or a business plan, which by the way are extremely important but something I think my students can learn somewhere else. I want to teach young people (well any people for that fact) what it really means to be an entrepreneur. I have, however, taken a few thing for granted and I have come to a conclusion that people have to learn to be innovative and it is not a natural skill.

Reason 1 – Safety

Having been on the south end of more business idea pitches than I care to write about, when faced with the prospects of actually going ahead with the business people have a tendency to get scared. When people are scared they become conservative and when people are conservative their innovation takes a significant beating. Instead of birthing a completely innovative idea they dial it back to something that is currently working in the market. Innovation takes being bold… but not stupid. One of the things that I stress to my class that an entrepreneur, on the surface, looks like a risk taker but there are not.

Reason 2 – Selfie

Once people are convinced that what they have is a truly innovative idea it is very difficult to change their mind. Plus you don’t want to be one of those that are trashing their ideas. People are a collection of their experiences and knowledge and when combined with enthusiasm – look out. However, the innovative idea they are driving everyone crazy is not put to the test it is just a dream. I know when we started AvidXchange, we had several ideas that didn’t work because we defined success as a piece of software that people where, (1) Willing to buy – there was a need (2) Buy at a good rate, which allowed us to concentrate on service (3) Continue to buy so we weren’t a revolving door of new clients. We let the market and our customer decide if our idea was innovative or not.

Reason 3 – Creativity

When asked, most people will say they are creative, however, back to the first point when pressure is applied people get nervous. I especially experience this with companies that have lunched and are in a crisis. As an outsider you give what I think is simple and obvious advice because I am not part of the stress, and advice I give is always met with, “wow – what a great idea”. Stress turns creativity and the ability to do your best thinking off.

Good News

If you call out the fact that you are being safe, introspective, and less creative you can use that insight to truly be you innovative best!

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people who started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information

BIG Idea – Thursday – 2:30pm – Charlotte NC

Have you ever seen a big idea with a date and time? Well I have been invited to speak at the Big Council in Charlotte NC this Thursday at 2:30pm.

What’s the Big Idea?

Well… The big idea is what life was like as the first employee of a fast growth startup. I don’t write too much about being one of the original six people who started AvidXchange in my blog. I like to stay away from advertising too much, but our little six person company now has over 300 employees and is getting ready to hire 600 more. I think the story is compelling and I think the Big Council has agreed, so I am going to be talking about lesson I learned from an employee’s perspective. It should be a lot of fun!

Would Love To See You There!

Here are the details: http://www.bigcouncil.com/?big=6&objID=193

 

Steve Jobs – Accounting and Innovation

You may or may not be aware, that I have completely lost my mind on the subject material that I am writing about. Steve Jobs running an accounting department? Really? You would think that there is a lot more pressing things to write about, but I have to tell you that I am getting great feedback on my Steve Jobs and accounting articles. I think it’s pretty clear that I am a fan of Jobs, I don’t worship the guy’s achievement like some do, but I believe that we can learn a lot from him. (And) One of the things we can learn is how Jobs used innovation in his companies to do remarkable things.

Innovation Outcome

Personal computers, Macs, Pixar, iPod, iPhone, IPad… are all examples of innovation under Jobs’ leadership. These pieces of technology just didn’t sell, as a lot hope for their products to do, the Apple products changed cultures, economies and the way we communicate.

How He Did It

Jobs would intentionally take an opposite opinion on a topic just to spark debate and discussion. He even had a measuring stick for what “better” means. He said that “the best was 30% better*”. Jobs was never satisfied and constrained. His desire to do more and better was fueled by a rare internal dive.

As he entered into business, he realized that becoming an excellent communicator was going to be a key to his success. He was able to communicate within his company and he was able to communicate to the outside world. Everything was greatly rehearsed and scripted to insure there were no errors, but his communication was simple. When you look back at each of his presentations, he created a style that always promoted three things. Jobs had a belief (which is a great strategy for communication) that a person was unable to communicate more than three things. That the message got lost if you gave them too much information.

When Jobs rejoined (as an aside, Jobs was fired and rehired by Apple in the late nineties and early two thousands) Apple, he went though all projects that the struggling company was focused on. He took the dozens of projects and products the company was engaged in and narrowed it down to four. He believed that real artist made things simple.

He also believed in building a work and company culture, and he needed every to pull in the same direction, working towards the same goal. To insure that everyone was working in paralleled he required all departments to interview potential employees.

Innovation didn’t start with people and products, probably the most innovated ideas that Jobs created were in the design of the products. Jobs was relentless on design, he was greatly inspired by a calligraphy class he took in college. He was enamored by the clean and clear lines of font. He event took, when development the MAC, his development team to a Tiffany glass exhibit to research lines.

So?

Being innovative may seem like a stretch for an accounting department, but if you can use Jobs’ techniques of collaboration, strive for being better, a great communicator, keeping things simple and attention to detail, you will see some pretty remarkable improvements in your department.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy