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How cloud is changing the face of employment
The ability to host core services in the cloud has created new opportunities for employers and workers alike
While most companies are still pondering cloud-based opportunities in terms of the potential for IT cost savings, others that are beginning to blaze a trail at a business level are taking a broader view of the possibilities. One of the most interesting areas for transformation is employment.
That cloud-based IT delivery so naturally fosters remote and flexible working paves the way to making the workplace more accessible to people with physical disabilities, parents of young children and others who have found the rigidity of the traditional office 9-5 prohibitive to finding gainful employment. At another level, it challenges the need to ‘employ’ people at all.
The ability to quickly create busy communities and connect people into them has been one of the earliest by-products of the cloud. Mainstream social forums like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, which owe their vast scalability to the cloud, have shown the business world what’s possible. Now the model has attracted the interest of the recruitment sector, both inside and out.
Going it alone
Richard Prime was so disillusioned with the restricted long-term potential and high burn-out rate in traditional recruitment that he has set up a cloud-based recruitment platform enabling lone recruitment professionals to go it alone, defining their own terms and working their own hours.
His company, Sonovate, which is just a couple of months old and has received backing from the founder of social network Bebo, provides the IT and administrative infrastructure to make freelance recruitment consultancy a viable career option. Small recruitment businesses and solo operators can outsource all of the technical aspects of the job to Sonovate, leaving them to focus on matching clients with job-seekers. To date the company has 11 individuals signed up to the service.
"Our proposition is very interesting for recruitment consultants who want to set up on their own but who previously have faced a high cost of entry," Prime explains. "It’s easy to feel disenfranchised in a big agency. A lot of these are centralised and based in London too. For many there will come a point when they’ve had enough of having to be in Soho for 7.30am, and want to work more flexibly. Now they can.
"Recruitment is traditionally very much a young person’s job," he adds. "It’s a hard sales environment so there’s a lot of churn. People don’t always feel valued for the job they do and, above the age of 35, many will leave the profession to find a role that suits them better. We’re offering them a way to stay in the job for longer, but making money for themselves rather than a big company.”
The core of Sonovate’s proposition is Bullhorn, a cloud-based customer relationship management system specific to the recruitment industry, which the company provides on a software-as-a-service/subscription. Linked into this is an accounting and timesheet solution, and integrated job board. Sonovate also provides hosted email and office productivity tools in the form of Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud-based software suite.
For additional support, there is a full range of business processes to tap into. "Our placement support team ensures that client terms are met, commissions are paid on time and timesheets processed for contractors,” Prime explains. "The consultants can create their own limited company and branded website, but we take care of the legal, financial and administrative infrastructure, significantly reducing their set-up costs and freeing up their time to sell.”
Of the cloud’s role in all of this Prime says, “The cloud, services like ours and facilities like LinkedIn and voice over IP (VoIP) mean recruiters can now build more flexible careers than was possible five years ago.”