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Rush Hour by Iain Gately
Albert Einstein, autonomous vehicles, Beeching cuts, blue-collar work, British Empire, business intelligence, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, car-free, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, Clapham omnibus, cognitive dissonance, congestion charging, connected car, corporate raider, DARPA: Urban Challenge, Dean Kamen, decarbonisation, Deng Xiaoping, Detroit bankruptcy, don't be evil, Elon Musk, extreme commuting, Google bus, Henri Poincaré, Hyperloop, Jeff Bezos, low skilled workers, Marchetti’s constant, postnationalism / post nation state, Ralph Waldo Emerson, remote working, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, stakhanovite, Steve Jobs, telepresence, Tesla Model S, urban planning, éminence grise
Not only do Indian teleworkers have to deal with irate strangers all night, but they also get detached from their family roots, forget what sunlight looks like, have no time for friendships, and are led into temptation by their handsome incomes. There’s a high churn rate among call-centre workers, and they burn out far quicker than Dutch bus drivers. Deep feels that this is because ‘your mentality changes’ when you work in a call centre. ‘You try to think like an American, but you’re not really an American, you’re an Indian. And sometimes you make the wrong decisions… You’re earning good, you’re looking good, you’re admired — that’s outside. But on the inside, you have a void.’ Ironically, many Indian telecommuters not only have to face the stress of virtual travel but also have to endure the discomforts of commuting in the flesh. Although call centres may ease congestion in the West, they increase it in the places they are built. Bangalore has spectacular jams in rush hour, and its public transport systems are close to being swamped.
At times he had to overcome surreal obstacles: I went to meet bureaucrats after they sat on our application for months. A government official said he could approve a call center, but could not approve a center to handle ‘incoming and outgoing calls’. So we had to print definitions of a call center from the Internet and take them to him to show him that’s what a call center did. In keeping with the Jack Nilles vision of telecommuting – that it might employ people who were excluded from the labour market either because they couldn’t get to it or weren’t expected to be there – Roy pushed for the right to employ women on his so-called ‘graveyard shifts’ that ran from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. (Bangalore time) for North America. He found there ‘were laws that forbade employing women in jobs after 10 p.m. In each state that we planned on setting up call centers in, we had to persuade its government to change that law.’
The pay averages the equivalent of £200 per month, the job has a certain cachet, and the surroundings are often salubrious. Many call centres are laid out as campuses with cappuccino bars, chill-out rooms, and sports facilities, as well as partitioned rows of workstations. The address of IBM’s Indian headquarters: ‘Golf Course Links, Bangalore’, says it all. Telecommuting aspirants borrow several months’ wages in advance from their relatives to pay for elocution courses, so that they’ll sound just right on the phone. The courses are designed to wipe out ‘Mother Tongue Influence’ (‘MTI’) i.e. Indian accents, and teach students to speak with absolute clarity, so that any English-speaker anywhere in the world can understand them, even over a bad line. The courses also teach tricks of the trade, like pretending that you’re called Bob. As Deep, an ex-British Telecom call-centre worker and MTI trainer explained to Forbes magazine: ‘Tell an American that your name is Raja and an F-word pops out.
Digital Bank: Strategies for Launching or Becoming a Digital Bank by Chris Skinner
algorithmic trading, Amazon Web Services, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, augmented reality, bank run, Basel III, bitcoin, business intelligence, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, cashless society, clean water, cloud computing, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, demand response, disintermediation, don't be evil, en.wikipedia.org, fault tolerance, fiat currency, financial innovation, Google Glasses, high net worth, informal economy, Infrastructure as a Service, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, M-Pesa, margin call, mass affluent, mobile money, Mohammed Bouazizi, new economy, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, Pingit, platform as a service, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, pre–internet, QR code, quantitative easing, ransomware, reserve currency, RFID, Satoshi Nakamoto, Silicon Valley, smart cities, software as a service, Steve Jobs, strong AI, Stuxnet, trade route, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, upwardly mobile, We are the 99%, web application, Y2K
They just get on with their lives and see online, mobile and all other digital channels as being seamlessly integrated into their world. These people do not think about branches, call centres, internet and so on. They just think of these things as life, and this is where retail bankers are getting it wrong because they are run by digital aliens or immigrants who do not get the digital life. For example, retail banks have a historically strong branch network. They added ATMs in the 1970’s, call centres in the 1980’s, the internet in the 1990’s and are now adding mobile in the 2000’s. Each channel is added as an extra layer on the foundation of the branch distribution cake. Branch networks are the foundations whilst electronic distribution is the cream on the cake. This is why retail banks talk about multichannel strategies where they try to integrate their call centre channel with their internet channel; they attempt to deliver mobile banking interoperable with the call centre channel; they mess about with CRM to ensure consistency across branch and internet channels.
This is why retail banks talk about multichannel strategies where they try to integrate their call centre channel with their internet channel; they attempt to deliver mobile banking interoperable with the call centre channel; they mess about with CRM to ensure consistency across branch and internet channels. My problem is this: banks only have one channel. They do not have multichannels, call centre channels, internet channels, mobile channels and so forth. They just have an electronic channel that underscores and provides the foundation for all end points: mobile, telephone, internet and branch. The electronic channel is based upon internet protocol (IP) technologies, as is the branch as it happens. And this is the big change: banks should stop thinking of channels and just recognise that they are digital enabled. Call centre, ATMs, branch, internet, mobile ... everything is digital enabled and therefore the bank has become a Digital Bank, based upon digitised platforms that reach into every nook, cranny, sinew and synapse of the bank.
These were delivered through one channel, the branch. Over time, another channel appeared, the direct sales representative. These sales folk resided in branches and were served by the branch system. Then, a new channel popped up, the call centre. The call centre was like one massive remote branch and required a new structure to operate. But the underlying data could be delivered through the branch-based systems, so the new structure was primarily designed to sit on top of those systems, offering scripts into the various products the bank offered. The call centre people struggled with this – sometimes operating six or more windows of screens at any one time to get a competitive picture of the customer’s needs – but they lived with it. Then, another channel popped up: the Internet. At first, banks thought this could lead to branch closures and started to invest heavily in moving from branch to Internet services.
3D printing, additive manufacturing, Airbus A320, Albert Einstein, Amazon Web Services, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, asset-backed security, augmented reality, barriers to entry, bitcoin, bounce rate, business intelligence, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, capital controls, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, en.wikipedia.org, fixed income, George Gilder, Google Glasses, high net worth, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, Infrastructure as a Service, invention of the printing press, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, London Interbank Offered Rate, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, mass affluent, Metcalfe’s law, microcredit, mobile money, more computing power than Apollo, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, optical character recognition, peer-to-peer, performance metric, Pingit, platform as a service, QR code, QWERTY keyboard, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, RFID, risk tolerance, Robert Metcalfe, self-driving car, Skype, speech recognition, stem cell, telepresence, Tim Cook: Apple, transaction costs, underbanked, US Airways Flight 1549, web application
They might wire money to a third party, visit an ATM to withdraw cash, go online to check if their salary has been deposited, pay a utility bill, use their credit card to purchase some goods from a retailer, fill out a personal loan application online, ring up the call centre to see what their credit card balance is, or report a lost card. If they are sophisticated customers or clients, they may also trade some stocks, transfer some cash from their Euro forex account to their US dollar account, put a lump sum in a mutual fund, or sign up for a home insurance policy online. In the early days of the Internet and call centre, it was not uncommon to find that the call centre and internet banking were 24 hours behind the in-bank systems because the “batch” processes that updated the alternate channel databases/logs ran overnight. Thus, if I made a transaction via an ATM or through the branch, it wouldn’t show on my online statement or could not be verified via the call centre until the next morning. Today, my internet banking account view can show me that my available credit card balance is US$10,000, but because of transactions that don’t yet appear on my statement, my actual available balance could be $250.
You might think by hiding phone numbers on your website you save costs by reducing call centre load. Research shows, however, that if you can direct customers to the correct call centre number quickly, you reduce traffic and costs—rather than leave customers to experiment by calling many different numbers. On every product or transaction page on your website, list the specific call centre number for that type of product/service. This can direct customers to an Interactive Voice Response menu specifically designed for that query, which will reduce call centre load and ensure CSR (customer service representatives) are appropriately equipped to answer specific questions. Even better, put a Skype calling button on the website where they can contact someone from the bank as they have a question, rather than waiting for them to find the correct number and call you separately. UBank™ in Australia used this methodology with great success.
Customers are already coming to your website to find the solution, so why not put a list of the most frequent call types, issues or questions in the same area of the site where customers look up the telephone number? Even better, why not put the same list on the homepage! Compile this list of these “top” service enquiries by checking call centre data for the most frequent call types over the last six months. By simply putting the answers of these frequent issues on the site, you can reduce call centre traffic by 10–20 per cent. Keep in mind you would actually have to provide a solution on the site, and not just some FAQs. There may have to be some process intelligence. But get this right and those customers already going to your website to solve this problem will not ring your call centre. Thus, immediate load reduction . . . Remind customers when they withdraw cash from an ATM that their credit card payment is due. Ask customers if they’d like their account balance sent by SMS to their mobile phone.
Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class by Owen Jones
Asperger Syndrome, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, British Empire, call centre, collapse of Lehman Brothers, credit crunch, deindustrialization, Etonian, facts on the ground, falling living standards, first-past-the-post, ghettoisation, Gini coefficient, hiring and firing, housing crisis, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, illegal immigration, income inequality, informal economy, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, mass immigration, Neil Kinnock, Occupy movement, pension reform, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, race to the bottom, Right to Buy, rising living standards, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Spirit Level, too big to fail, unpaid internship, upwardly mobile, We are the 99%, wealth creators, Winter of Discontent, women in the workforce, working-age population
Less than two years into the economic crisis that began in 2007, one in four retail and sales workers had their pay slashed. Nearly a third had their hours cut, and over a fifth lost benefits.' If you think shop workers have it bad, consider now the call centre worker. There are now nearly a million people working in call centres, and the number is going up every year. To put that in perspective, there were a million men down the pits at the peak of mining in the 1940s. If the miner was one of the iconic jobs of post-war Britain, then today, surely, the call centre worker is as good a symbol of the working class as any. 'Call centres are a very regimented environment,' says John McInally, a trade unionist leading efforts by the PCS to unionize call centre workers. 'It's rows of desks with people sitting with headphones. There's loads of people in the room, but they're separate units. They're encouraged not to talk, share experiences, and so on ...
According to the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, increasing numbers of call centre workers are being referred to speech therapists because they are losing their voices. The cause? Working long hours with little opportunity to even have a drink of water. That's one reason why the sickness rate in call centres is nearly twice the national average. The other is deep alienation from the work. In One call centre McInally dealt with in Northern England, sickness rates had reached nearly 30 per cent. 'That's a sign oflowmorale,' he says-as is the fact that annual staff turnover is around a quarter of the workforce. And, like so much of the new working class, the salaries of call centre workers are poor. A trainee can expect £12,500, while the higher-grade operators are on an average of just £16,000. Twenty-eight-year-old Carl Leishman has been a call centre worker in County Durham for eight years.
John McInally has been leading valiant attempts by the pes union to organize call centre workers. He believes that there are real grounds for optimism, because of one key similarity between call centres and old- style factories: large numbers of workers concentrated in one place. But he has no illusions about the obstacles that are in the way, not least because of how regimented the work is. 'You could have four hundred people in a room, or a couple of rooms, who may see each other every day but never speak to each other,' he says. Just as factory workers were stuck at their looms in Victorian times, call centre workers are stuck at their desks. There is one major difference, though: unlike Victorian workers who could shout to each other over their looms, call centre workers have earphones plugged in all day and so are prevented from communicating.
The Future of Technology by Tom Standage
air freight, barriers to entry, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, Clayton Christensen, computer vision, connected car, corporate governance, creative destruction, disintermediation, distributed generation, double helix, experimental economics, full employment, hydrogen economy, industrial robot, informal economy, information asymmetry, interchangeable parts, job satisfaction, labour market flexibility, Marc Andreessen, market design, Menlo Park, millennium bug, moral hazard, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, optical character recognition, railway mania, rent-seeking, RFID, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, smart grid, software as a service, spectrum auction, speech recognition, stem cell, Steve Ballmer, technology bubble, telemarketer, transcontinental railway, Y2K
India’s most often-cited advantage is its large English-speaking population, which has helped to fuel the call-centre boom. Yet already the market for call-centre workers is tightening. Pay and staff turnover are shooting up as operators poach staff who have already undergone costly “accent neutralisation” training at rival firms. Even the best callcentre operators in India lose about half their employees each year (but then turnover in British call-centres is about 70%). One Convergys job 128 A WORLD OF WORK advertisement in the Times of India promises to make prospective callcentre employees “a prime target of all the dons of the industry. You will be hunted down, with almost a king’s ransom on your head”. No dream job Part of the problem is that call-centre work tends not to be much fun – although Indians enjoy much better pay, relative to other local jobs, than British or American call-centre employees.
Protectionists are finding it hard to argue that “corporate greed” is draining jobs from Britain and America when those two economies are close to full employment. More awkwardly still, the very industries said to be badly hurt by the migration of jobs overseas report a shortage of workers at home. Most of the jobs created in India are either in call-centres or at it firms. But call-centre companies in both Britain and America suffer from rising staff turnover and struggle to recruit more people. Britain’s Call-Centre Association, a trade lobby, thinks that employment in the industry in Britain will rise in the next few years; in the United States, call-centre employment is expected to decline slightly. As it spending recovers from recession, labour markets in America I 144 A WORLD OF WORK and Europe are becoming tighter in this industry too. Not many students in rich countries choose to study engineering at college.
India’s bpo industry also started with foreign captives. The pioneers were ge, American Express and British Airways, who all arrived in the late 1990s. These companies were joined by home-grown call-centre operators such as 24x7, vCustomer, Spectramind and Daksh. Spectramind has since been bought by Wipro, and Daksh by ibm. These Indian firms also face competition from specialist American call-centre companies which, like the global it firms, have been adjusting to the cheap Indian competition by taking themselves to India. By far the most successful of these foreign firms has been America’s Convergys, which with a total of around 60,000 employees is the biggest call-centre operator in the world. By the end of 2005, says the company’s local boss, Jaswinder Ghumman, Convergys hoped to employ 20,000 people in India. A fourth wave of bpo start-ups, many of them funded by American venture capitalists, has been experimenting with the remote delivery from India of all sorts of work, from hedge-fund 126 A WORLD OF WORK administration to pre-press 4.4 2.1 Sustainable?
3D printing, additive manufacturing, agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Airbnb, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, call centre, Chris Urmson, congestion charging, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Douglas Engelbart, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Flynn Effect, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, gig economy, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, ImageNet competition, income inequality, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of the telephone, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, lifelogging, lump of labour, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, McJob, means of production, Milgram experiment, Narrative Science, natural language processing, new economy, Occupy movement, Oculus Rift, PageRank, pattern recognition, post scarcity, post-industrial society, precariat, prediction markets, QWERTY keyboard, railway mania, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Rodney Brooks, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, software is eating the world, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, The Future of Employment, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber for X, universal basic income, Vernor Vinge, working-age population, Y Combinator, young professional
Forrester argued that companies which wait too long to offer good e-commerce channels risk losing market share to more digitally-minded competitors. Call centres We are still at the very early stages of introducing artificial intelligence to call centres. For many of us, dealing with call centres is one of the least agreeable aspects of modern life. It normally involves a good deal of waiting around, listening to uninspiring hold music, followed by some profoundly unintelligent automated routing, and finally a conversation with a bored person the other side of the world who is reading from a script written by a sadist. One of the leaders in introducing genuine AI to call centres is Swedbank, one of Sweden's biggest banks, with 9.5m customers and 160,000 employees. It has 700 people working in contact centres, which handle 2m customer calls each year.
This latter effect is disguised because, as society gets richer, people buy many more items, so the store needs more staff even though their involvement in each individual item is less. Online shopping is perhaps the ultimate prosumer experience. Consumer reviews replace the retailer’s sales force, and its algorithms do the up-selling. Call centres Of course, automation and prosumption is not always to the benefit of consumers. In markets where switching costs or partial monopolies dilute the standards-raising effect of competition, companies can save money for themselves in ways which actually make life worse for their customers. We are all familiar with call centres where (for instance) utility companies and banks have automated their customer service operations, obliging frustrated customers to plough through various levels of artificial un-intelligence in order to get their problem resolved.
We are all familiar with call centres where (for instance) utility companies and banks have automated their customer service operations, obliging frustrated customers to plough through various levels of artificial un-intelligence in order to get their problem resolved. The customer would be much better off if a human picked up the call immediately, but that would cost the companies a lot more money, and they have no incentive to incur that cost. Things are improving, however, as the AI used in call centres advances. Just as most people choose to withdraw cash from ATMs rather than venture into the bank and wait in line for a human cashier, many call centre operations are now getting good enough at handling or triaging problems that we may soon prefer to deal with the automated system than with a human. Food service The automation of service in fast food outlets seems to have been just around the corner for decades. Indeed, elements of it have been a reality for years in Oriental-style outlets like Yo, Sushi!, but it has so far failed to spread to the rest of the sector.
Globish: How the English Language Became the World's Language by Robert McCrum
Alistair Cooke, anti-communist, Berlin Wall, British Empire, call centre, colonial rule, credit crunch, cuban missile crisis, Deng Xiaoping, Etonian, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, invention of movable type, invention of writing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, jimmy wales, knowledge economy, Livingstone, I presume, Martin Wolf, Naomi Klein, Norman Mailer, Parag Khanna, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Republic of Letters, Ronald Reagan, sceptred isle, Scramble for Africa, Silicon Valley, Steven Pinker, the new new thing, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, upwardly mobile
As Fareed Zakaria has put it, both ‘speak globalization fluently.’ Globish is essential to India’s globalising ambitions. This is not the Indian English of Hobson–Jobson and the bazaar or the standardised American and British English of the universities, but the emerging supranational lingua franca that enables a call centre in Bangalore to answer impossible queries, or sell new products, as far afield as Cheltenham in the UK, Cedar Rapids in the United States or Co. Cork, Eire. Many major cities in India now have call centres, with a dynamic effect on the local economy (call centre employees enjoy a salary as much as five times the national average). The road to Electronics City is symbolic of old India, but the Infosys campus, barely five miles from the centre of the city, is an oasis of Globish. Each of the 21,000 employees with an average age of between 25 and 26, is an exponent of Globish culture.
Five Point Someone features soft drugs, binge drinking, and an affair between a student and his professor’s daughter. One Night @ the Call Centre is a romantic comedy set in a call centre office where bored young Indians try to resolve the mindless enquiries of midwestern American technophobes. Bhagat says that his novel reflects a generational divide in India. His model society is China, not the modernising China of Deng Xiaoping, but the radicalising China of Mao Zedong. ‘India needs a cultural revolution to change mindsets,’ Bhagat told the Guardian. ‘In China it was bloody, but India needs to learn that the old ways are not always the best ways.’ One Night @ the Call Centre has already sold about 2 million copies. In October 2008 it reached a new audience when a Bollywood film adaptation went on general release.
On dozens of streets in a city like Bangalore, Calcutta or Mumbai, you will find advertisements for ‘English Centre’ or ‘Career English’, the passport to a better future. In Bangalore, I climbed a rickety outside staircase to the offices of ‘Easy English’ (advertising ‘Spoken English, Call Centre Training, Placements’) to learn about the programme on offer to the would–be student. ‘Easy English’ turned out to be a husband–and–wife team, operating out of four rooms (and a tiny kitchen), with a clientele of barely a dozen students who were paying 1,500 rupees a month, a substantial commitment, to acquire enough English to apply to one of the call centres. How long, I wondered, had ‘Easy English’ been in business here? ‘Six months.’ The proliferation of such training rooms happens at the end of the Globish food chain. Infosys, Microsoft and the other big corporations will train thousands of high–quality graduates to operate in North American, Australasian or British markets.
The Trouble With Brunch: Work, Class and the Pursuit of Leisure by Shawn Micallef
big-box store, call centre, cognitive dissonance, David Brooks, deindustrialization, ghettoisation, Jane Jacobs, knowledge worker, liberation theology, Mason jar, McMansion, new economy, post scarcity, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Thorstein Veblen, urban sprawl, World Values Survey
He has enough on his plate with all those nuclear families and the dull floors of their detached homes. Middle-class consumption is a complicated thing, but crucial to understanding how this class self-identifies. When I moved to Toronto in 2000, the economy was booming. I was only a recent grad student with little job experience, however, so I started temping at a call centre. A giant call centre is not unlike a factory floor, and for a little while, at least, Toronto felt a bit more like Windsor (in fact, one of the ways Windsor has replaced its manufacturing sector is with much lower-paying call centres, a shift from an industrial economy to a service-oriented one). After four months of searching, however, I finally got a proper, permanent job as a fundraising researcher at a large non-profit organization. Not only was I tasked with finding the kind of philanthropic money unfamiliar to me in Windsor, I found out quickly that the people I worked with often had backgrounds very different than mine.
The service class is sometimes lumped into the creative economy, but Florida says the distinction between those in the service sector and those in the creative class is autonomy in the latter; they are paid to create while the service class is paid to execute an already-created plan. It is curious why we do not speak more of the service class as the working class. Though not as physical as working in the Ford foundry, the punch-in/punch-out life is much the same, as is the lack of agency. Having worked in both sectors, from the factory floor at Hiram Walker to the mall record store (and even my first Toronto job temping at a call centre), I see much in common with the relationship to work (being told what to do) and a wider class sensibility (feeling as if somebody else controls your destiny). As for lifestyle, Florida argues the creative class is not just a blending of bourgeois and bohemian values, as outlined in David Brook’s 2000 book Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There, an early look at what would inform Florida’s creative class, but transcends those two categories completely.
The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class by Guy Standing
8-hour work day, banking crisis, barriers to entry, basic income, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, call centre, Cass Sunstein, centre right, collective bargaining, corporate governance, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, deskilling, fear of failure, full employment, hiring and firing, Honoré de Balzac, housing crisis, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, land reform, libertarian paternalism, low skilled workers, lump of labour, marginal employment, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, means of production, mini-job, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, nudge unit, old age dependency ratio, pensions crisis, placebo effect, post-industrial society, precariat, presumed consent, quantitative easing, remote working, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, science of happiness, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, Tobin tax, transaction costs, universal basic income, unpaid internship, winner-take-all economy, working poor, working-age population, young professional
Nevertheless, those who are dependent on others for allocating them to tasks over which they have little control are at greater risk of falling into the precariat. Another group linked to the precariat is the growing army in call centres. These are ubiquitous, a sinister symbol of globalisation, electronic life and alienated labour. In 2008, the United Kingdom’s Channel 4 presented a television documentary called ‘Phone Rage’, highlighting the mutual misunderstandings between young call-centre staff and angry customers. According to the programme, on average, people in the United Kingdom spent a full day each year talking to call centres, and the amount of time was rising. Then there are interns, a peculiarly modern phenomenon whereby recent graduates, current students or even pre-students work for a while for little or no pay, doing petty office jobs.
Ackerman, Bruce 180 Adecco 33, 49 agency 167–70 Agrarian Justice (Paine) 173 Aguiar, Mark 128 Alemanno, Gianni 149 Alexander, Douglas 145 alienation 19–24 alternative medicine 70 altruism 181 anger 19–24, 168 anomie 19–24, 64 Ant Tribe 73 anxiety 19–24, 155, 178 Anzalone, John 152 apprenticeships 10b, 23, 60, 70, 72–3, 131 architecture of choice 133, 139, 140, 142 Arendt, Hannah 117, 163–4 Arizona law SB1070 93, 97–8 associational freedom 167–70 associations, occupational 169–70 asylum seekers 92–3, 94, 96, 149, 158 Atos Origin 166–7 atypical labour 32, 41 Australia 39, 90, 103 Austria 150 Axelrod, David 152 baby boomers 66–7, 74 bag lady syndrome 63, 84 banausoi 13, 117 basic income 171–8, 181 Bauerlein, Mark 69 BBVA 50 Beck, Glen 151 Belgium 39 benefits 11–12, 33, 174 and the disabled 87 health care 51 unemployment 45–8, 99, 104 and wages 41–2 women and 62 Bentham, Jeremy 132–3 Berlusconi, Silvio 69, 183 on immigrants 4, 97, 148–9 BIEN (Basic Income European Network/ Basic Income Earth Network) 172 Birthright Lottery, The (Schachar) 177 Blair, Tony 135, 158, 179 Blinder, Alan 163 boredom 19, 141 Bosson, Eric 97 brain 18, 85 Brazil 182 breadwinners 41, 59, 62, 64 British Airways 50 Brown, Gordon 103 Bryceson, D.B. 21 Buffett, Warren 78 call centres 16, 169 Cameron, David 139, 169, 179 Can They do That? (Maltby) 138 Canada 79, 114 capital funds 176–7 Capitalism and Freedom (Friedman) 156 care work 61, 86, 125–6 careers, leisure 129 cash transfers 177 see also conditional cash transfers (CCTs) CCTs (conditional cash transfer schemes) 140 Cerasa, Claudio 149 Channel 4, call centre programme (UK) 16 charities 53 children, care for 125 China 28 and contractualisation 37 criminalisation 88 deliberative democracy 181 education 73 immigrants to Italy 4–5 invasion of privacy 135 migrants 96, 106–9, 109–10 old agers 83 191 192 INDEX China 28 (Continued) Shenzhen 133, 137 and time 115 wages 43 youth 76 see also Chindia China Plus One 28 Chindia 26, 27–9, 83 see also China Chrysler Group LLC 43 circulants 90, 92 Citizens United vs Federal Election Commission (US) 152–3 civil rights 14, 94 class, social 6–8, 66–7 Coase, Ronald 29 Cohen, Daniel 57, 66, 69 collaborative bargaining 168 collective attention deficit syndrome 127 commodification of companies 29–31 of education 67–72 and globalisation 26 labour 161–2 of management 40 of politics 148–53 re- 41–2 conditional cash transfers (CCTs) 140 see also cash transfers conditionality 140, 175 and basic income 172–3 and workfare 143–5, 166–7 connectivity, and youth 127 contract status 35, 36, 37, 44, 51, 61 contractors, independent/ dependent 15–16 contractualisation 37 counselling for stress 126 Crawford, Matthew 70 credit 44 crime 5, 129–30 criminalisation 14, 145, 146 crystallised intelligence 85 cultural rights 14 de Tocqueville, Alexis 145 de-industrialisation 5, 37–8 debt, and youth 73–4 Delfanti, Alessandro 78 deliberative democracy 180–1, 182 denizens 14, 93–102, 105, 113, 117, 157–8 Denmark 150 dependent/independent contractors 15–16 deskilling 17, 33, 40, 124 developing countries 12, 27, 60, 65, 105–9 disabled people 86–7, 89, 170 discrimination age 84–5 disability 81 gender 60, 123 genetic profiling 136–7 and migrants 99, 101–2 disengagement, political 24 distance working 38, 53 dole (UK) 45 Duncan Smith, Iain 143 Durkeim, Emile 20 economic security 157, 171, 173–6 The Economist 17–18, 33, 52, 137 economy, shadow 56–7 education 10, 67–73, 135–6, 159–60 Ehrenreich, Barbara 21, 170–1 elites 7, 22, 24, 40, 50 criminality 152 and democracy 181 ethics 165 Italian 148 and the Tea Party (US) 151 empathy 22–3, 137 employment agencies 33 employment security 10b, 11, 17, 36, 51, 117 Endarkenment 70 Enlightenment 24, 70 enterprise benefits 11, 12 environmental issues 167 environmental refugees 93 Esping-Andersen, G. 41 ethics 23–4, 121–2, 165 ethnic minorities 86 EuroMayDay 1, 2, 3, 167 European Union (EU) 2, 39, 146, 147 and migrants 97, 103, 105 and pensions 80 see also individual countries export processing zones 105–6 Facebook 127, 134, 135 failed occupationality 21 INDEX family 27, 44, 60, 65, 126 fear, used for control 32 fictitious decommodification 41 financial capital 171, 176–7 financial sector jobs 39–40 financial shock 2008-9 see Great Recession Financial Times 44, 55, 121, 155 firing workers 31–2 Fishkin, James 180 Fletcher, Bill 170–1 flexibility 18 labour 23–4, 31–6, 53, 60, 61, 65 labour market 6, 120–1, 170 Ford Motor Company 42, 43 Foucault, Michel 88, 133 Foxconn 28–9, 43, 105, 137 see also Shenzhen France criminalisation 88 de-industrialisation 38 education 69 leisure 129 migrants 95, 97, 101–2, 114 neo-fascism 149 and old agers 85 pensions 79 shadow economy 56 Telecom 11 youth 65–6 fraternity 12, 22, 155 freedom 155, 167–70, 172 freelance see temporary employment freeter unions 9 Friedman, Milton 39, 156 functional flexibility 36–8, 52 furloughs 36, 50 gays 63–4 General Motors (GM) 42, 43, 54 genetic profiling 136 Germany 9 de-industrialisation 38 disengagement with jobs 24 migrants 91, 95, 100–1, 114 pensions 79 shadow economy 56 temporary employment 15, 35 wages 40 and women 62 youth and apprenticeships 72–3 193 Glen Beck’s Common Sense (Beck) 151 Global Transformation 26, 27–31, 91, 115 globalisation 5–7, 27–31, 116, 148 and commodification 26 and criminalisation 87–8 and temporary employment 34 Google Street View 134 Gorz, Andre 7 grants, leisure 180–2 Great Recession 4, 49–51, 63, 176 and education 71 and migrants 102 and old agers 82 and pensions 80 and youth 77–8 Greece 52, 56, 117, 181 grinners/groaners 59, 83–4 Habermas, Jürgen 179 Haidt, J. 23 Hamburg (Germany) 3 happiness 140–1, 162 Hardt, M. 130 Hayek, Friedrich 39 health 51, 70, 120, 126 Hitachi 84 Hobsbawm, Eric 3 hormones 136 hot desking 53 Howker, Ed 65 Human Rights Watch 106 Hungary 149 Hurst, Erik 128 Hyatt Hotels 32 IBM 38, 137 identity 9 digital 134–5 work-based 12, 15–16, 23, 158–9, 163 Ignatieff, Michael 88 illegal migrants 96–8 In Praise of Idleness (Russell) 141, 161 income security 10b, 30, 40, 44 independent/dependent contractors 15–16 India 50, 83, 112, 140 see also Chindia individuality 3, 19, 122 informal status 6–7, 57, 60, 96, 119 inshored/offshored labour 30, 36, 37 194 INDEX International Herald Tribune 21 internet 18, 127, 139, 180, 181 surveillance 134–5, 138 interns 16, 36, 75–6 invasion of privacy 133–5, 167 Ireland 52–3, 77 isolation of workers 38 Italy education 69 neo-fascism 148–9 pensions 79 Prato 4–5 and the public sector 52, 53 shadow economy 56 and temporary employment 34 youth 64 Japan 2, 30 and Chinese migrants 110 commodification of companies 30 and migrants 102, 103 multiple job holding 119–20 neo-fascism 152 pensions 80 salariat 17 subsidies 84 and temporary employment 15, 32–3, 34–5, 41 and youth 66, 74, 76, 77 job security 10b, 11, 36–8 Kellaway, Lucy 83–4 Keynes, John Maynard 161 Kierkegaard, Søren 155 Klein, Naomi 148 knowledge 32, 117, 124–5, 171 labour 13, 115, 161–2 labour brokers 33–4, 49, 110, 111, 167, 168 labour flexibility 23–4, 31–45 labour intensification 119–20 labour market flexibility 6 labour security 10–11, 10b, 31 Laos 112 lay-offs see furloughs Lee Changshik 21 legal knowledge 124–5 legal processing 50 Legal Services Act of 2007 (UK) (Tesco Law) 40 leisure 13, 128–30 see also play lesbians 63–4 Liberal Republic, The 181 Lloyds Banking Group 50–1 localism 181–2 long-term migrants 100–2 loyalty 53, 58, 74–5 McDonald’s 33 McNealy, Scott 69 Malik, Shiv 65 Maltby, Lewis 138 Manafort, Paul 152 management, commodification of 40 Mandelson, Peter, Baron 68 Maroni, Roberto 97 marriage 64–5, 92 Martin, Paul 141 Marx, Karl 161 masculinity, role models for youth 63–5 Massachusetts Institute of Technology 68–9 Mayhew, Les 81 Mead, Lawrence 143 mergers, triangular 30 Mexico 91 Middle East 109 migrants 2, 13–14, 25, 90–3, 145–6 and basic income 172 and conditionality 144 denizens 93–102, 157–8 government organised 109–13 internal 105–9 and queuing systems 103–5 and recession 102–3 Mill, John Stuart 160 Morris, William 160, 161 Morrison, Catriona 127 multinational corporations 28, 92 multitasking 19, 126–7 National Broadband Plan 134 near-sourcing/shoring 36 Negri, A. 130 neo-fascism 25, 147–53, 159, 175, 183 Netherlands 39, 79, 114, 149–50 New Thought Movement 21 New York Times 69, 119 News from Nowhere (Morris) 161 Niemöller, Martin 182 INDEX non-refoulement 93 Nudge (Sunstein/Thaler) 138–9 nudging 138–40, 155–6, 165, 167, 172, 178, 182 numerical flexibility 31–6 Obama, Barack 73, 138–9, 147, 148 Observer, The 20 occupations associations of 169–70 dismantling of 38–40 freedom in 162–4 obsolescence in 124 offshored/inshored labour 30, 36, 37 old agers 59, 79– 86, 89 old-age dependency ratio 80–1 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) 27 origins of the precariat 1–5 outsourcing 29, 30, 33, 36, 37, 49 Paine, Thomas 173 panopticon society 132–40, 142–3 Parent Motivators (UK) 139–40 part-time employment 15, 35–6, 51, 61, 82 Pasona 33 paternalism 17, 29, 137, 153, 178, 182 nudging 138–40, 155–6, 165, 167, 172, 178, 182 pensions 42, 51, 52, 76–7, 79–81, 84–6 PepsiCo 137 personal deportment skills 123 Philippines 109 Phoenix, University of 71 Pigou, Arthur 117, 125 play 13, 115, 117, 128, 141 pleasure 141 Polanyi, K. 163, 169 political engagement/disengagement 24, 147 Portugal 52, 56 positive thinking 21, 86 Prato (Italy) 4–5 precariat (definition) 6, 7–13 precariato 9 precariatisation 16–18 precarity traps 48–9, 73–5, 114, 129, 144, 178 pride 22 prisoners 112, 146 privacy, invasion of 133–5, 167 private benefits 11 productivity, and old age 85 proficians 7–8, 15, 164 proletariat 7 protectionism 27, 54 public sector 51–4 qualifications 95 queuing systems 103–5 racism 97–8, 101, 114, 149 Randstad 49 re-commodification 41–2 recession see Great Recession refugees 92, 93, 96 regulation 23, 26, 39–40, 84, 171 Reimagining Socialism (Ehrenreich/ Fletcher) 170–1 remote working 38, 53 rentier economies 27, 176 representation security 10b, 31 retirement 42, 80–3 rights 14, 94, 145, 163, 164–5, 169 see also denizens risk management 178 Robin Hood gang 3 role models for youth 63–5 Roma 97, 149 Rossington, John 100 Rothman, David 88 Russell, Bertrand 141, 161 Russell, Lucie 64 Russia 88, 115 salariat 7, 8, 14, 17, 32 Santelli, Rick 150 Sarkozy, Nicolas 69, 97, 149 Sarrazin, Thilo 101 Schachar, Ayelet 177 Schneider, Friedrich 56 Schwarzenegger, Arnold 71 seasonal migrants 98–100 security, economic 157, 171, 173–6 self-employment 15–16, 66, 82 self-esteem 21 self-exploitation 20, 122–3 self-production 11 self-regulation 23, 39 self-service 125 services 37–8, 63 195 196 INDEX Sex, Drugs and Chocolate: The Science of Pleasure (Martin) 141 sex services 63 sexism, reverse 123 shadow economy 56–7, 91 Shenzhen (China) 133, 137 see also Foxconn Shop Class as Soulcraft (Crawford) 70 short-time compensation schemes 55–6 side-jobs 119–20 skill reproduction security 10b skills 157, 176 development of 30, 31, 40 personal deportment 123 tertiary 121–4 Skirbekk, Vegard 85 Smarsh 138 Smile or Die (Ehrenreich) 21 Smith, Adam 71 snowball theory 78 social class 6–8, 66–7 social factory 38, 118, 132 social income 11–12, 40–5, 51, 66 social insurance 22, 104 social memory 12, 23, 129 social mobility 23, 57–8, 175 social networking sites 137 see also Facebook social rights 14 social worth 21 sousveillance 134, 135 South Africa, and migrants 91, 98 South Korea 15, 55, 61, 75 space, public 171, 179–80 Spain BBVA 50 migrants 94 and migrants 102 pensions 79 and the public sector 53 shadow economy 55–6 temporary employment 35 Speenhamland system 55, 143 staffing agencies 33–4, 49, 110, 111, 167, 168 state benefits 11, 12 status 8, 21, 32–3, 94 status discord 10 status frustration 10, 21, 63, 67, 77, 78, 79, 89, 114, 123, 160 stress 19, 126, 141, 141–3 subsidies 44, 54–6, 83–6, 176 suicide, work-related 11, 29, 58, 105 Summers, Larry 148 Sun Microsystems 69 Sunstein, Cass 138–9 surveillance 132–6, 153, 167 see also sousveillance Suzuki, Kensuke 152 Sweden 68, 110–11, 135, 149 symbols 3 Taking of Rome, The (Cerasa) 149 taxes 26 and citizenship 177 France 85 and subsidies 54–5 Tobin 177 United States (US) 180–1 Tea Party movement 150–1 technology and the brain 18 internet 180, 181 surveillance 132–6 teleworking 38 temporary agencies 33–4, 49, 110, 111, 167, 168 temporary employment 14–15, 49 associations for 170 Japan 9 and numerical flexibility 32–6 and old agers 82 and the public sector 51 and youth 65 tertiarisation 37–8 tertiary skill 121–4 tertiary time 116, 119 tertiary workplace 116 Tesco Law (UK) 40 Thailand, migrants 106 Thaler, Richard 138–9 therapy state 141–3, 153 Thompson, E.P. 115 time 115–16, 163, 171, 178 labour intensification 119–20 tertiary 116, 119 use of 38 work-for-labour 120–1 titles of jobs 17–18 Tobin taxes 177 Tomkins, Richard 70 towns, company 137 INDEX toy-factory incident 108–9 trade unions 1, 2, 5, 10b, 26, 31, 168 and migration 91 public sector 51 and youth 77–8 see also yellow unions training 121–4 triangular mergers 30 triangulation 34 Trumka, Richard 78 trust relationships 8–9, 22 Twitter 127 Ukraine 152 undocumented migrants 96–8 unemployment 145 benefits 45–8, 99, 104 insurance for 175 voluntary 122 youth after recession 77 uniforms, to distinguish employment status 32–3 unions freeter 9 yellow 33 see also trade United Kingdom (UK) 102–3 benefit system 173 Channel 4 call centre programme 16 company loyalty 74–5 conditionality 143–5, 166–7 criminalisation 88 de-industrialisation 38 disabled people 170 and education 67, 70, 71 financial shock (2008-9) 49–51, 71 labour intensification 119 Legal Services Act (2007) (Tesco Law) 40 leisure 129 migrants 91, 95, 99, 103–5, 114, 146 neo-fascism 150 paternalism 139–40 pensions 43, 80 and the public sector 53 public spaces 179 and regulation of occupational bodies 39 shadow economy 56 and social mobility 56–8 and subsidies 55 197 temporary employment 15, 34, 35 as a therapy state 142 women 61–2, 162 workplace discipline 138 youth 64, 76 United States (US) care for children 125 criminalisation 88 education 69, 70–1, 73, 135–6 ethnic minorities 86 financial shock (2008-9) 49–50 migrants 90–1, 93, 94, 97, 103, 114 neo-fascism 150–1, 152–3 old agers 82–3, 85 pensions 42, 52, 80 public sector 52 regulation of occupational bodies 39 social mobility in 57–8 subsidies 55, 56 taxes 180–1 temporary employment 34, 35 volunteer work 163 wages and benefits 42 women 62, 63 youth 75, 77 universalism 155, 157, 162, 180 University of the People 69 University of Phoenix 71 unpaid furloughs 36 unpaid leave 50 uptitling 17–18 utilitarianism 88, 132, 141, 154 value of support 11 Vietnam 28, 111–12 voluntary unemployment 122 volunteer work 86, 163–4 voting 146, 147, 181 Wacquant, L. 132 wages 8, 11 and benefits 41–2 family 60 flexibility 40–5, 66 individualised 60 and migrants 103 and temporary workers 32, 33 Vietnam 28 see also basic income Waiting for Superman (documentary) 69 Wall Street Journal 35, 163 198 INDEX Walmart 33, 107 Wandering Tribe 73 Weber, Max 7 welfare claimants 245 welfare systems 44 Wen Jiabao 105 Whitehead, Alfred North 160 Williams, Rob 62 wiretapping 135 women 60–5 and care work 125–6 CCTs (conditional cash transfer schemes) 140 labour commodification 161 and migration 92 multiple jobholding 119–20 reverse sexism 123 work 115, 117, 160–1 and identity 158–9 and labour 13 right to 145, 163, 164–5 security 10b work-for-labour 120–1, 178 work-for-reproduction 124–7 work–life balance 118 worker cooperatives 168–70 workfare 143–5, 166–7 working class 7, 8 workplace 116, 122, 130, 131 discipline 136–8 tertiary 116 Yanukovich, Victor 152 yellow unions 33 youth 59, 65–7, 89, 156 commodification of education 67–72 connectivity 127 and criminality 129–30 generational tension 76–7 and old agers 85 precarity traps 73–5 prospects for the future 78–9 and role models 63–5 streaming education 72–3 zero-hour contracts 36
Challenges to be overcome would include transparency, overtendering, accountability once contracts were negotiated, and governance of rules on distribution of income, labour opportunities and internal promotions. Problems would also arise in jurisdiction and relations with other services. How would a service deal with labour-saving technical change? On launching the idea in February 2010, Cameron cited examples such as call centres, social work, community health and nursing teams, hospital pathology departments, and rehabilitation and education services in prisons. This list prompts several questions. How large should the group be that is designated as a ‘worker cooperative’? If all National Health Service hospitals in a local authority area were selected as a group, problems would arise in determining what share of income would go to groups with widely different earnings and technical skills.
In this brand-driven climate, traditional marketing techniques are no longer sufﬁcient to create business success. Advertising is losing its pulling power. More direct mail is going straight in the waste-paper basket than ever before, and if traditional selling was only ever a ‘numbers game’, without a brand for support, its days are deﬁnitely numbered. Even the rise of technology-based customer care approaches, such as the once-hailed customer relationship management (CRM) systems, call centres and the like, have done little to aid business development. (Let’s face it. When you’re number 23 in a callwaiting queue and have been held there for 20 minutes, occasionally spoken to by some distorted, pre-recorded, unemotional voice telling you that ‘your call is important to us’, you get the feeling that someone somewhere has 4 Branding your business completely lost the plot, and has thrown any concept of building a strong brand out of the window.)
Whatever the sales gurus tell you, people don’t want to be constantly reminded of who they are. And keep the conversation centred around the brand, not yourself. Include your company name as close to the beginning of the conversation as you can, then utilise appropriate key words or phrases from your Brand Lexicon often. This will give the caller memory cues to keep the brand alive throughout the discussions. For example, if you contact Disney’s call centre, the conversation they’ll have with you will be replete with multiple uses of words like ‘magic’ and phrases such as ‘the magic of Disney’ and ‘magical kingdom’. Chances are, you won’t get off the phone without the word ‘magic’ still in your memory, albeit short-term. But put this together with the other experiences of ‘Disney magic’ you’ll encounter at their parks and that place in long-term memory is almost assured. 118 Making sense of the senses Fifteen customer service no-nos By Monte Enbysk, lead editor for the microsoft.com network.
(One interruption in a call might be excusable; beyond that, you are crossing the ‘rude’ threshold. Do your best to be prepared with enough staff for peak calling times.) 8. Your employees refuse or forget to use the words ‘please’, ‘thank you’ or ‘you’re welcome’. (Please use these words generously, thank you.) 9. Your employees hold side conversations with friends or each other while talking to customers on the phone, or they make personal calls on cell phones in your call centre. (Don’t do either of these.) 10. Your employees seem incapable of offering more than oneword answers. (One-word answers come across as rude and uncaring.) 11. Your employees do provide more than one-word answers, but a lot of the words are grounded in company or industry jargon that many customers don’t understand. (If you sell tech products, for example, don’t casually drop in abbreviations such as APIs, ISVs, SMTP or TCP/IP.) 12.
Halting State by Charles Stross
augmented reality, call centre, forensic accounting, game design, Google Earth, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, impulse control, indoor plumbing, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of the steam engine, lifelogging, Necker cube, Potemkin village, RFID, Schrödinger's Cat, Vernor Vinge, zero day
So you’ve got to make sure the other guy doesn’t get his hands on it, don’t you? You’re right about it sounding like a swoop and squat, and that medical claim is a classic. Medical confidentiality is a great blind for snipers, but we can poke a hole in it if there’s a fraud investigation in train. Now, Nationwide still have some human folks on the web in the Customer Retention and Abuse groups, and what you need to do is to get this escalated off the call-centre ladder until a human being sees it, then you need to hammer away.” “But how do I…?” You start checking off points on your fingertips. “You start by getting Sally to offer them her car’s black-box log. Once you know exactly where she was when the incident happened—the black-box GPS will tell you that—you tell them to serve a FOIA disclosure notice on the Highways Agency for their nearby camera footage—if they won’t listen at first, I’ll talk you through doing that yourself.
The first not-so-subtle hint you’re not in England is the row of flags flying over the railway station concourse—pale blue background, white diagonal cross. They’re feeling their new EU-regional cojones, the Scots. It’s a puzzler, but at least they’re not insisting you clear customs and immigration: Thank Brussels for something. The taxi ride to your hotel rubs in the fact that you’ve come to another country. It’s the old-fashioned kind of black cab, with a real human being behind the wheel instead of a webcam and a drone jockey in a call centre. Your driver manages to detour past a weird building, all non-Euclidean swoops and curves (he proudly declares it to be a parliament, even though it looks like it just arrived from Mars, then confides that it cost a science-fictional amount, confirming the Martian origins of its budget oversight process). Then he takes a hyperspace detour round the back of a bunch of office blocks and into a rural wilderness, around the grassy flank of an extinct volcano so pristine that you half expect to see a pitched battle in progress between ghostly armies in kilts.
The hotel does indeed appear to have gun turrets. And gargoyles. Then your tourist map twitches and rearranges itself in front of your eyes as the overloaded Galileo service catches up with you. “This is the, uh, Niddrie Malmaison. I wanted the West End one?” “Oh, reet. Ahcannaebemissingthe—” You blink at the subsequent stream of consonants interspersed with vowels that sound subtly wrong. Maybe you’d have been better off waiting for a call-centre–controlled limo. But evidently no reply is expected: The driver hits the pause button on his meter and engages the mysterious fifth wheel that allows taxis everywhere to turn on the spot. And you’re off again, into a bizarre grey maze of steep streets and steeper buildings, with or without battlements. Eventually you find yourself in front of what your map overlay insists is the right hotel, and you can relax and bill it to the company account.
Animals by Emma Jane Unsworth
As always when otherwise occupied, I wanted to be writing – a desire that rarely withstood the presence of actual writing time. Bacon, my novel-in-progress, was the story of a priest who fell in love with a talking pig (I could already see the movie trailer: Gene Hackman in a dog collar, the back of a pig’s head in the foreground as they desperately embraced: ‘God help me, I love you!’). I’d been halfway through the thing for a few years now and needed to crack on if I was ever going to escape the call centre. I’d reduced my hours there to the minimum but I still spent every second pondering quiet desktop suicide. The previous week I’d been losing the will to live ten minutes into my shift when my boss came over and asked whether I had flu. ‘It’s just a cold,’ I said, stoically. He looked at the pile of congealed tissues on my desk. ‘You know, Laura, it’s best if you don’t come in when you’re infectious.’
So apart from checking email, odd facts (I listed them and did them in bulk at 5 p.m.) and sometimes – when I was feeling particularly brave – my overdraft balance, I kept the wi-fi off. The book was proving hard enough without the added worry of where it might or might not fit in the world, especially when I was yanked every day into a heinous, staticky place, a grey carpeted box of lies concerning credit cards. All that got me through was telling myself I was buying as well as biding my time, a dangling carrot for most people who worked in the call centre. There were musicians, playwrights, poets, novelists – all of us detesting every second in our headsets; all of us dreading the time someone would turn round and say: I’VE GOT MY BREAK! I’M OUT! SEE YOU LATER, LOSERS! GCSE English class. Tuesday afternoon. Me – thirteen, ginger, unstylishly myopic – navigating my way through Yeats’ ‘When You Are Old’ with rabid intent. I loved it, loved it without knowing exactly why.
Daisy stopped wailing and the sound of block-bashing began again. I looked at Jacqueline. She picked her tea up from by her sandals and pointed to a mug down by the side of my chair. I picked up the tea and took a sip. Scaldy-hot. I took another sip. ‘So when did you leave the Red Room, then?’ I said when I could. ‘Not long after you. Four months, maybe five. Those 3 a.m. finishes! They’re a killer. What have you been up to since?’ ‘I work in a call centre.’ A pause, then: ‘See, much better hours, you know what I mean. Neil’s an accountant so we get something like a normal life at the evenings and weekends.’ ‘Well, my shifts are pretty unpredictable. It’s a twenty-four-hour service. Credit cards.’ I didn’t know why but it was almost as though part of me was enjoying making out I did the worst thing in the world. I think I was trying to embarrass her or convince myself or both.
The Second Curve: Thoughts on Reinventing Society by Charles Handy
Airbnb, basic income, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, bonus culture, British Empire, call centre, Clayton Christensen, corporate governance, delayed gratification, Diane Coyle, Edward Snowden, falling living standards, future of work, G4S, greed is good, informal economy, Internet of things, invisible hand, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, late capitalism, mass immigration, megacity, mittelstand, Occupy movement, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Ronald Coase, shareholder value, sharing economy, Skype, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transaction costs, Veblen good, Walter Mischel
What seems sure is that the world that our grandchildren will work in will have very different organisations and very different life options than the ones I knew. Whether they will be better or nicer is another question. 4 THE WORKPLACE What? Where? Who? and How? WE HAVE TO contemplate a day when most factories – if they are still called that – are largely staffed by robots and call centres by talking computers, when cars, lorries and trains are increasingly driverless, when cooking is fully automated, the menu of your choice brought by robot to your table, when most shopping is online and entertainment on tap in your lounge or bedroom. Much of our lives will be organised by algorithms and computer-controlled systems. It will be, some say, a world where humans service the machines rather than the other way round, science fiction become fact.
If they are not delivered you or your group will have failed. But there is more to the job than the specified core, there is the dough around the jam, the empty space for new initiatives. Efficiency dislikes empty space so is tempted to prescribe what should happen in it, thereby pulling more into the core. In the extreme all the doughnut is core, every action is foreseen and prescribed, as is the case in many call centres where the operator is totally constrained by what they read on their screen. The next stage is to do away with the operator and leave it to the computer, thereby giving complete control to the centre but also ensuring that no unexpected or creative initiatives will be forthcoming. Efficiency will have killed individual creativity and initiative. The preferred solution is a compromise. The centre has control over the core of the work and can, by drawing the outer rim of the doughnut a bit tighter, limit the scope for initiative, while still leaving the individual or group room to be creative.
Doughnut management requires a major investment in the development of the staff. That may be expensive in the short term but, ultimately, trust is always cheaper than control. In a doughnut culture people are judged on the results, not on their methods, on their effectiveness rather than their efficiency. Efficiency should be the servant not the master. The new technologies can now work both ways. Technology can be used, as in some of those call centres, to eliminate discretion and increase control, or, by monitoring only results and by more disclosure of necessary data, it can facilitate individual initiative. Some business organisations take the doughnut model to extremes, effectively licensing individual units to run their own businesses, or to start new ones, for which they would need corporate approval if investment were needed. Companies such as W.
Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future by Paul Mason
Alfred Russel Wallace, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, basic income, Bernie Madoff, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business process, butterfly effect, call centre, capital controls, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, Claude Shannon: information theory, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, David Graeber, deglobalization, deindustrialization, deskilling, discovery of the americas, Downton Abbey, drone strike, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, eurozone crisis, factory automation, financial repression, Firefox, Fractional reserve banking, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, future of work, game design, income inequality, inflation targeting, informal economy, information asymmetry, intangible asset, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, late capitalism, low skilled workers, market clearing, means of production, Metcalfe's law, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, Pearl River Delta, post-industrial society, precariat, price mechanism, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, reserve currency, RFID, Richard Stallman, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, secular stagnation, sharing economy, Stewart Brand, structural adjustment programs, supply-chain management, The Future of Employment, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Transnistria, union organizing, universal basic income, urban decay, urban planning, Vilfredo Pareto, wages for housework, women in the workforce
Mainframes are born then disappear to be replaced by servers, which also disappear from corporate HQs and now sit in vast air-conditioned sheds elsewhere. The silicon chip gets smaller; the add-on devices that once cluttered our workspaces – modems, hard drives, floppy disks – become smaller, scarcer, and then disappear. Proprietary software gets built by corporate IT departments and is then replaced by off-the-peg versions at one-tenth of the price. And soon, too, the IT departments disappear, to be replaced by call centres in Mumbai. The PC becomes the laptop. The laptop shrinks and gets more powerful but is superseded by the smartphone and the tablet. At first, this new technology was mapped on to the old structures of capitalism. In the 1990s, the folklore in IT was that the most expensive software – the enterprise resource package – ‘moulds like putty, sets like concrete’. By the time you had computerized your production line, innovation elsewhere meant you had to rip it out and start again.
They have access to banking and insurance, are likely to own a TV, and usually live in small family groups, not the multigenerational families of the slum, or the solitude of the dormitory. Three-quarters of them work in service industries. The growth of service sector jobs in the developing world reflects both the natural evolution of the job mix under modern capitalism and a second round of offshoring, focused on call centres, IT departments and back-office functions. In short, the graph shows the limits of what offshoring can achieve. That growing wedge of $13-a-day workers is nudging into the income bracket of the poorest American workers. This means that the days of easy wins for firms offshoring their production are drawing to a close. For the last twenty-five years, large parts of industry in the global south have used ‘extensive’, rather than intensive, methods to boost production.
‘Capturing positive externalities,’ writes Moulier-Boutang, ‘becomes the number one problem of value.’48 In cognitive capitalism, the nature of work is transformed. Manual labour and industry don’t stop, but their place in the landscape changes. Because profit increasingly comes from capturing the free value generated by consumer behaviour, and because a society focused on mass consumption has to be constantly fed coffee, smiled at, serviced by call centres, the ‘factory’ in cognitive capitalism is the whole of society. For these theorists, ‘society as a factory’ is a crucial concept – vital to understanding not just the nature of exploitation but resistance. For a pair of Nike trainers to be worth $179.99 requires 465,000 workers in 107 factories across Vietnam, China and Indonesia to produce to the same exact standard. But it also requires the consumer to believe that the Nike swoosh makes these chunks of plastic, rubber and foam worth seven times the average US hourly wage.49 Nike spends $2.7 billion a year on getting us to believe just that (compared to $13 billion actually making the shoes and clothing) – and that marketing budget buys way more than advertisements at the Superbowl.
Mythology of Work: How Capitalism Persists Despite Itself by Peter Fleming
1960s counterculture, anti-work, call centre, clockwatching, commoditize, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, David Graeber, Etonian, future of work, G4S, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, illegal immigration, Kitchen Debate, late capitalism, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market fundamentalism, means of production, neoliberal agenda, Parkinson's law, post-industrial society, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative easing, Results Only Work Environment, shareholder value, The Chicago School, transaction costs, wealth creators, working poor
Analysts have noted how keeping unsociable hours is increasingly the norm beyond the professions usually associated with night work (nursing, for example). This has been encouraged and facilitated by a broader agenda of flexible employment systems, the growth of subcontracting and the degradation of important employment rights and benefits that once regulated this practice (see Kreitzman, 1999; Aubenas, 2011). Cleaners, warehouse workers, caterers, security personnel, truck drivers, call-centre agents and many others now do their work in the middle of the night when the rest of us are asleep. Of course, Marx noted long ago that the attempt to render labour productive after the sun goes down represents a strong predisposition of the capitalist mode of production: The prolongation of the working day beyond the limits of the natural day, into the night, acts only as a palliative. It quenches only in a slight degree the vampire thirst for the living blood of labour.
This impossibility is characterized not only by the Saint Genets haunting the cut-throat nightlife of the neoliberal order. We are not referring to a distinctive class or social category, although the destitute prefigures its form. For the impossibility lodged in every centre of this wrong whole is viral too. Its inflections are to be seen in the homeless, in the tearful bankers falling to earth from their high-rise prisons, in academics sacrificing themselves to the ‘bad deal’ they call a mortgage, in the call-centre employees who cannot go on, etc. The official silence concerning these unmanageable moments constantly throbs everywhere in the large cities of the capitalist order, a low and compulsive hum that troubles those who have learnt to listen to its message. A Negative Optics of Revolt After Deleuze, the planet of work is no figurative prison or straitjacket, but a set of impossible geometric lines that we must render obsolete so that their perpetual postponements and qualifications can be halted for good.
In the presence of a gruelling and often humiliating clash between managers and a disempowered employee, organizational bystanders frequently lose their nerve and volunteer important insights about the political alliances and factions that may be frustrating managerial objectives. A fourth reason for all this conflict is perhaps most central. An incident of disagreement, however minor and insignificant, offers management useful ammunition for justifiably abandoning employees in the future should the need arise. Many industries, especially call centres, customer services and retail, rely upon orchestrated conflict to eject workers on a regular basis, knowing that newcomers are less wise to the historical struggles within the firm and more pliant, until they too become a ‘problem’ and are themselves replaced. Indeed, these ‘green field’ strategies, in which a relentless cycle of hiring–firing–hiring is pursued, require a very combative approach by management, because most of the time employees simply want to be left alone to get on with the job.
David Mitchell: Back Story by David Mitchell
I really didn’t know what I wanted. - 29 - Are You Sitting Down? The landline rang in my living room. This wasn’t as unusual in 2002 as it is now. Nowadays I’d assume it was a survey or someone trying to sell me something. If I answered it, I’d expect that suspicious pause after I said hello which tells you that it’s from some poor sod in a call centre – a cold-call centre, in fact. Possibly a cold cold-call centre if it’s in the North-East, or a humid cold-call centre if it’s the subcontinent. The pause, I reckon, is because they’ve dialled a dozen, or a hundred, or maybe a thousand numbers at once, and it takes a beat for them to notice which ones have been answered. And of course it’s an infuriating pause because, not only is someone about to waste your time, you’re also expected to wait a few seconds until it’s convenient for them to start wasting it.
And then the battle begins. The battle, in my case, is to get off the phone politely and without having hung up on anyone. I feel that an element of my humanity will have been lost if I actually hang up while they’re still speaking. I try, by adopting a firm and patronising voice, to put an end to the call in good order. Of course it never works. The techniques drilled into the staff of a cold-call centre presumably include never stopping talking and never saying, ‘Okay, thanks, goodbye.’ I’m a slightly obsessive ‘goodbye’ sayer – I come away from parties with an unsettled feeling because I haven’t formally taken my leave of all the people I chatted to. I know that’s fine and people don’t expect it, but it feels like I’ve left lots of loose ends hanging. All of which makes me easy prey for the cold-caller.
The level of assistance is not available to the same degree as that found in England and Wales, nor do matters appear as straightforward – except for processing small estates. The appropriate authorities in both England and Scotland have been extremely helpful, as they would be to any person seeking their assistance. There are significant changes under way not only with new laws but a change in the probate system and updating of excepted estates. Capital Taxes Office have introduced a call centre processing system although the initial contact is still to be made with your local Probate Registry. A proposed simplification in dealing with the Registries has been introduced. As an executor or proposed administrator you have to present yourself to the Registrar and swear that the information given is correct; in future ‘a statement of truth’ will replace the oath, although personal attendance will still be necessary.
A spouse who survives for a short time but dies within the 28-day period will be treated as if he or she had died within the lifetime of the deceased. The second part of the book deals with probate, what steps should be taken and when, in order to prove a will. If the sad task of winding up the estate of a close relative or friend is placed under your agreed control, you may need to seek advice. The best place to start is at the Personal Applications Department of your nearest Probate Registry or at one of its sub-registries. The new call centre on 0845 3020900 can be used for IHT queries and for forms, and also a website at www.courtservice.gov.uk. The Registrar and his colleagues in the Personal Applications Department in your area deal on a daily basis with all sorts of queries raised regarding probate. However, they cannot give legal advice. Of course, the State has laid down certain rules which have to be followed by them. The rules are there to protect the wishes of the deceased and to ensure that those wishes are fulfilled.
Changes to the Probate Registry Far-reaching changes were proposed for the Probate Registry, and a consultancy exercise carried out. In the proposal the current Registries and Sub-Registries were to be closed, leaving some six or so Probate Registries nationwide. To this end an 144 ■ How to Write Your Will amalgamation of telephone numbers/helpline numbers between the Capital Taxes Office and Probate is already in place and working. However, the call centre staff are only trained to deal with standard queries, and if it does not fall into this category your call will have to be transferred to another office. Happily, these proposals to reduce the number of offices have been abandoned and the nationwide network is to remain for the time being. Other positive proposals, such as a joint helpline, will also remain. Under the present system, before probate is granted appointments have to be made to swear the accuracy of the submission.
What About Me?: The Struggle for Identity in a Market-Based Society by Paul Verhaeghe
Berlin Wall, call centre, cognitive dissonance, deskilling, epigenetics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, income inequality, invisible hand, jimmy wales, job satisfaction, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Louis Pasteur, market fundamentalism, Milgram experiment, new economy, post-industrial society, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, stem cell, The Spirit Level, ultimatum game, working poor
Until recently, the West possessed a tradition of authority symbolically vested in individuals (‘Thou shalt honour thy father and thy mother’). Representatives of authority were themselves subject to the system, and could also be held accountable. These days, we live in a world where power is anonymous and cannot be localised, and therefore no longer exercises any moral authority. Much more importantly, it can also no longer be called to account. It is epitomised by the call centre with its endless menu options (‘Hi, I’m Vanessa, how can I help you?’) that never puts us through to the person who is responsible, for the very good reason that they don’t exist. The seat of power has been abandoned. There are no fathers anymore because the system has done away with symbolic authority figures. In the best-case scenario, the modern father is a second mother alongside the first.
The tragedy is that parents are blamed for the consequences of this system, though they themselves are victims of it. Journalist Kaat Schaubroeck sums it up perfectly in the title of her book: Een verpletterend gevoel van verantwoordelijkheid: waarom ouders zich altijd schuldig voelen (A Crushing Sense of Responsibility: why parents always feel guilty). When they seek help for their children, whose disorders are also caused by the system, they find themselves at the mercy of the social-services call centre, which sends them from pillar to post. And this is the second explanation for the increasing demand for discipline: neo-liberal policies create a need for it by sweeping away symbolic authority and trust in such authority. As a result, everyone mistrusts everyone else, leading to yet more monitoring and measurement, and, despite all the slogans about deregulation and the ‘free’ market, to an endless proliferation of rules, regulations, and contracts.
That’s why it’s so important not just to look at the figures, but also to take note of someone who has tried to understand the German model by consciously experiencing it. Günter Wallraff is a journalist who occasionally goes undercover to find out exactly what it means, say, to be a member of an ethnic minority. He did the same thing as a worker right at the bottom of the social ladder, taking on jobs such as a baker in the Lidl supermarket chain and an operator in a call centre. He published his account in a book entitled Heerlijke nieuwe wereld (Brave New World). Besides the starvation wage (7.66 euros an hour before tax), Wallraff said that the hardest thing to bear was the loss of dignity, the feeling of no longer belonging. The system creates an underclass who regard themselves as failures, are ashamed, and seek to draw as little attention to themselves as possible.
The Retreat of Western Liberalism by Edward Luce
3D printing, affirmative action, Airbnb, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, call centre, carried interest, centre right, cognitive dissonance, colonial exploitation, colonial rule, computer age, corporate raider, cuban missile crisis, currency manipulation / currency intervention, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, Erik Brynjolfsson, European colonialism, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, future of work, George Santayana, gig economy, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, illegal immigration, imperial preference, income inequality, informal economy, Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, knowledge economy, liberal capitalism, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, means of production, Monroe Doctrine, moral panic, more computing power than Apollo, mutually assured destruction, new economy, New Urbanism, Norman Mailer, offshore financial centre, one-China policy, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, precariat, purchasing power parity, reserve currency, Richard Florida, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, software is eating the world, South China Sea, Steve Jobs, superstar cities, TaskRabbit, telepresence, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, unpaid internship, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, white flight, World Values Survey, Yogi Berra
Companies’ ability to go offshore via diversified global supply chains is no longer confined to physical goods. In the short term it is not artificial intelligence the West should worry about. It is what Baldwin calls remote intelligence. In some respects it has already arrived. Over the last twenty years, India and the Philippines reaped the rewards of the telecoms revolution to create lower-skilled service sector jobs at call centres, and on technology helpdesks. Those jobs are now under threat. As the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen says, ‘Software is eating the world’. How many times have you talked to a computer recently, rather than someone with an Indian accent? A lot more than a few years ago, I would guess. Automated voice software is supplanting humans. India is thus being forced to upgrade. Its next generation of offshore jobs will be devoted to far more complex tasks, such as providing medical diagnoses, writing legal briefs, remotely supervising factories and plants, and doing consumer data analysis.
So too are rapid leaps in language-translation software (India should beware: China’s relative lack of English will no longer be such a disadvantage). In the West we spend half our time fretting about low-skilled immigrants. We should be worrying at least as much about high-skilled offshoring. Some types of medical surgeon and architect will be as vulnerable to remote intelligence as plant engineers or call-centre operators. Ironically, some of the lowest-paid jobs – in barbershops and nail salons – will be among the safest. No matter how dexterous your virtual service provider, it is hard to imagine how she could cut your hair. In the near future, technology will shift many more lucrative Western service jobs to the developing world. Beyond that, artificial intelligence threatens to eat the whole world’s lunch.
Why We Can't Afford the Rich by Andrew Sayer
accounting loophole / creative accounting, Albert Einstein, asset-backed security, banking crisis, banks create money, basic income, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, capital controls, carbon footprint, collective bargaining, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, decarbonisation, declining real wages, deglobalization, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, demand response, don't be evil, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, en.wikipedia.org, Etonian, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, G4S, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, high net worth, income inequality, information asymmetry, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), investor state dispute settlement, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, job automation, Julian Assange, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, land value tax, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, means of production, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, neoliberal agenda, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, patent troll, payday loans, Philip Mirowski, Plutocrats, plutocrats, popular capitalism, predatory finance, price stability, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, universal basic income, unpaid internship, upwardly mobile, Washington Consensus, wealth creators, Winter of Discontent, working poor, Yom Kippur War, zero-sum game
As a youngster growing up at the time when some of the British Empire had yet to be dismantled, I remember a popular racist myth that people were poor in certain countries because they were lazy or unintelligent, while the British were enterprising and industrious, and hence richer. This of course is nonsense. If you think of virtually any occupation that is found in a wide range of countries – teacher, labourer, engineer, doctor, retailer, call centre operator – in most cases their pay is higher in rich countries than in middling or poor countries, though this has nothing to do with how hard they work or how intelligent they are. Again, rich countries have a higher level of technological development, and their workers tend to use more of this technology than do their counterparts in poorer countries, so things can be produced more easily, quickly and cheaply, even though wages and salaries are relatively high.
Inequalities between countries in the level of development of the commons, especially the forces of production, are the source of another mechanism favouring the strong over the weak: unequal exchange. When a rich country like the US trades with a poor one like Bangladesh, not just the rich, but everyone in the rich country benefits from getting cheap goods, provided by cheap labour. Most of Europe has benefitted from this unequal exchange for over two centuries, from cotton and cocoa to jeans, electronic goods and call centre services. For any given traded product, the workers in the poor country have to work much longer to be able to afford it than do their counterparts in rich countries. Even if they’re working in state-of-the-art factories producing tablet computers, as some Chinese suppliers of western firms are, their pay is still low. To be sure, this has a lot to do with the huge supply of labour and limited employment rights to protect workers, but it’s also because the overall level of development of productive forces in the economy as a whole is still relatively low.
When we think about how much money people should get, we are actually considering how big their claims on the labour of others should be, relative to those of others. In the modern global economy, though we rarely think of it, each of us relies on thousands of other workers to produce the goods and services we consume, be they garment workers in the Philippines, assemblers of electronic goods in China, banana growers in St Lucia or call centre workers in India – or, indeed, shop assistants, dentists, garage mechanics and bar staff in our local town. As we saw in Part Two, the inequalities at the international level derive mainly from inequalities in the level of development of ‘the forces of production’; workers in countries like India or Thailand get much less for supplying westerners with goods than western producers get from selling stuff to them, because they have had different economic histories, usually with colonial domination and unequal exchanges going back centuries.
The Mathematics of Banking and Finance by Dennis W. Cox, Michael A. A. Cox
barriers to entry, Brownian motion, call centre, correlation coefficient, fixed income, inventory management, iterative process, linear programming, meta analysis, meta-analysis, P = NP, pattern recognition, random walk, traveling salesman, value at risk
Histograms are considered in Chapter 3. 2.2 DISCRETE DATA Discrete data refers to a series of events, results, measurements or readings that may occur over a period of time. It may then be classified into categories or groups. Each individual event is normally referred to as an observation. In this context observations may be grouped into multiples of a single unit, for example: r The number of transactions in a queue r The number of orders received r The number of calls taken in a call centre. Since discrete data can only take integer values, this is the simplest type of data that a firm may want to present pictorially. Consider the following example: A company has obtained the following data on the number of repairs required annually on the 550 personal computers (PCs) registered on their fixed asset ledger. In each case, when there is to be a repair to a PC, the registered holder of the PC is required to complete a repair record and submit this to the IT department for approval and action.
If we take x to be the actual number of errors found in the sample, then using the above transform to φ(0, 1), the required probability is: 6−8 12 − 8 Prob(6 < x < 12) = Prob <z< 2 2 This then becomes: Prob(−1 < z < 2) = Prob(−∞ < z < 2) − Prob(−∞ < z < −1) (since we need to refer to the tabulated values, Table 8.4) = (1 − Prob(2 < z < ∞)) − 0.159 (since the total area under the curve is 1) = (1 − Prob(−∞ < z < −2)) − 0.159 (by symmetry, since the positive and negative curves are the same) = 1 − 0.023 − 0.159 = 0.818 The figures are again taken from Table 8.4. What this means is that in at least 81.8% of the samples there would be between six and 12 errors, on the assumption that the distribution is normal (8, 4) so has a mean of eight and a variance of four. 8.2.2 A second example of normal probabilities A company assumes that the quality criteria for a call centre is normally distributed with a failure mean of 10 and a standard deviation of 0.03. In this context failure represents not achieving the required quality standard. (a) What is the proportion of samples that will have a failure rate exceeding 10.075? x −μ Using z = , the required probability is: σ 10.075 − 10 Prob(x > 10.075) = Prob z > 0.03 = Prob(z > 2.5) = Prob(z < −2.5) (by symmetry) = 0.006 This therefore gives 0.6% as the proportion.
Branded Beauty by Mark Tungate
augmented reality, Berlin Wall, call centre, corporate social responsibility, double helix, East Village, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Frank Gehry, haute couture, invention of the printing press, joint-stock company, liberal capitalism, placebo effect, Ray Kurzweil, Silicon Valley, stem cell
Seabra was an early adopter of ‘sustainable’ practices, taking care to ensure that none of the company’s suppliers used child labour and investing a percentage of profits in social projects. Refillable packaging was launched as early as 1983. Sales staff are paid an average of 16 times higher than minimum wage, are given shares in the company and receive regular training in the latest skincare advances. Natura remains responsive to consumers, with a call centre to deal with enquiries from consultants and customers. Seabra has not been afraid to rely on his instincts: he launched a line of products for infants (Mamãe e Bebê, or Mother and Baby) against the advice of his researchers. Like Shiseido, he believes cosmetics are vital for boosting well-being and self-esteem. Natura refers to this as bem estar bem (well being well). It also steers clear of exaggerated claims, saying that it aims to prevent signs of ageing rather than promising rejuvenation.
(It stands for ‘Just a kiss’. Arnaud explains, ‘When you meet someone you like, if your strategy is good enough, the validation comes with a kiss. After that, anything can happen.’) This attracted an impressive list of clients, ranging from Louis Vuitton and Vogue to L’Oréal and Christian Dior Cosmetics. They both know branding backwards. Isabelle worked for a string of well-known agencies. Arnaud ran a call centre before running off to New York to play electronic music and set up an agency called Reflex. Then he came back to Paris to work for another agency, before meeting Isabelle at a dinner. They call Jak ‘a strategy, design, creation and curiosity agency’. The seed of Absolution lies in the word ‘creation’. Isabelle believes that an agency should create not just advertising, but products too. (This is by no means unheard of: the cult jeans brand Acne was launched by a communications agency.)
The Cost of Inequality: Why Economic Equality Is Essential for Recovery by Stewart Lansley
banking crisis, Basel III, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bonfire of the Vanities, borderless world, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business process, call centre, capital controls, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate raider, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Edward Glaeser, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, floating exchange rates, full employment, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, high net worth, hiring and firing, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, James Dyson, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Meriwether, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, laissez-faire capitalism, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, market bubble, Martin Wolf, mittelstand, mobile money, Mont Pelerin Society, Myron Scholes, new economy, Nick Leeson, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, oil shock, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, Right to Buy, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, shareholder value, The Great Moderation, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Washington Consensus, Winter of Discontent, working-age population
The scale of what has been called the ‘hollowing out of the middle’ is shown in figure 3.4 which charts the change in employment by 1999 in jobs ranked by their position in the 1979 wage distribution. This shows a growth in the number of jobs at the top tail of the distribution—business executives, senior managers, consultants, data processors, software engineers; a smaller rise in the number of low paid jobs in the lower tail—cleaners, hairdressers, shop assistants and call centre workers; and sharp falls in the number of jobs paying middle wages in 1979—machine setters, foundry labourers, plant and rail signal operatives and a range of routine clerical jobs that have become automated.112 In the immediate post-war decades—across mature economies—there used to be more of a continuum in jobs, wages and opportunities with more intermediate, middleskill, middle-paying work that filled the gap between semi-and unskilled blue-collar and higher paying professional jobs.
Many of them seem to be a million miles away from the real business.’182 Chief Executives found themselves under increasing pressure to sign up to the new ‘slash and burn’ policies being encouraged by management consultants and investment bank advisers. Having tasted the towering rewards that followed from the introduction of stock options in the booming share market of the 1990s, most executives were only too happy to fall into line. Matthew Barratt, who became chief executive of Barclays Bank in early 2000, announced the wholesale closure of high street branches and the transfer of former face-to-face customer services to call centres. While this was deeply unpopular with staff and customers, its potential to cut costs and improve profit margins ‘went down a storm’ in the City.183 The other retail banks soon joined in the aggressive pursuit of shareholder value, shedding staff in an ongoing cost-cutting drive. The number of bank branches halved in the 20 years to 2009. The UK now has 197 bank and building society branches per million inhabitants compared with 500 in Germany and over 1000 in Spain.184 Rapid growth in the banking sector coincided with a shrinking of staff.
The Enigma of Capital: And the Crises of Capitalism by David Harvey
accounting loophole / creative accounting, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, bank run, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business climate, call centre, capital controls, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, equal pay for equal work, European colonialism, failed state, financial innovation, Frank Gehry, full employment, global reserve currency, Google Earth, Guggenheim Bilbao, Gunnar Myrdal, illegal immigration, indoor plumbing, interest rate swap, invention of the steam engine, Jane Jacobs, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Just-in-time delivery, land reform, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, means of production, megacity, microcredit, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, Pearl River Delta, place-making, Ponzi scheme, precariat, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, special drawing rights, special economic zone, statistical arbitrage, structural adjustment programs, the built environment, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, urban renewal, urban sprawl, white flight, women in the workforce
The uneven geographical development that results is as infinitely varied as it is volatile: a deindustrialised city in northern China; a shrinking city in what was once East Germany; the booming industrial cities in the Pearl River delta; an IT concentration in Bangalore; a Special Economic Zone in India where dispossessed peasants revolt; indigenous populations under pressure in Amazonia or New Guinea; the affluent neighbourhoods in Greenwich, Connecticut (until recently, at least, hedge fund capital of the world); the conflict-ridden oil fields in the Ogoni region of Nigeria; the autonomous zones carved out by a militant movement such as the Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico; the vast soy bean production zones in Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina; the rural regions of Darfur or the Congo where civil wars relentlessly rage; the staid middle-class suburbs of London, Los Angeles or Munich; the shanty towns of South Africa; the garment factories of Sri Lanka or the call centres of Barbados and Bangalore ‘manned’ entirely by women; the new megacities in the Gulf States with their star-architect-designed buildings – all of this (and of course much more) when taken together constitutes a world of geographical difference that has been made by human action. At first blush, this world would appear to be so geographically diverse as to escape principled understanding, let alone rationalised control.
That there are intertwinings and inter-relationships is obvious. The civil wars in Africa, in many ways sad legacies of European colonial practices, reflect the long history of corporate and state-led struggles to control Africa’s valued resources, with China these days an increasingly important player. The factory in northern China or Ohio closes down in part because the factories in the Pearl River delta open up. The call centre in Barbados or Bangalore services customers in Ohio and London and the shirts or skirts worn in Paris have labels from Sri Lanka or Bangladesh, just as the shoes that were once made in Italy now come from Vietnam. The Gulf States build spectacular buildings on the back of an oil trade that depends in part on the profligate use of energy to service a predominantly suburban lifestyle in the United States.
Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work by Nick Srnicek, Alex Williams
3D printing, additive manufacturing, air freight, algorithmic trading, anti-work, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, basic income, battle of ideas, blockchain, Bretton Woods, call centre, capital controls, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, centre right, collective bargaining, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, deskilling, Doha Development Round, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ferguson, Missouri, financial independence, food miles, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, housing crisis, income inequality, industrial robot, informal economy, intermodal, Internet Archive, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, late capitalism, liberation theology, Live Aid, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, market design, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, mass incarceration, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, Mont Pelerin Society, neoliberal agenda, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, patent troll, pattern recognition, Paul Samuelson, Philip Mirowski, post scarcity, postnationalism / post nation state, precariat, price stability, profit motive, quantitative easing, reshoring, Richard Florida, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Slavoj Žižek, social web, stakhanovite, Steve Jobs, surplus humans, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, wages for housework, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population
Some hold out the hope that an emerging service sector will absorb the surplus populations, yet this appears increasingly unlikely. Even in India, the centre of service and high-tech outsourcing, only a small portion of the labour force works in the information and communication technology sector.115 More importantly, the potential of service jobs is constrained by the newest wave of automation, which is likely to eliminate the low-skilled, low-wage service jobs that have traditionally been outsourced – clerical work, call-centre work or data entry, for example.116 As this non-routine cognitive labour is increasingly automated, what may occur is a premature shift away from a service-based economy – on top of premature deindustrialisation. What this means is that the maintenance of large portions of humanity within slums and informal, non-capitalist economies is likely to be consolidated by emerging technological trends.
The International Labour Organization currently estimates that 5.9 per cent of the working population (201 million people) are unemployed – but this relies on a very stringent definition of unemployment. ILO, World Employment and Social Outlook – Trends 2015 (Geneva: International Labour Organization, 2015), at ilo.org, p. 16. If one works for an hour mowing a lawn, makes a few dollars selling homemade wares on a street, or has a doctorate and works in a call centre, the ILO counts this as employment. In other words, part-time workers, informal workers and underemployed workers all count as employed. The ILO definition of unemployment also improves when people drop out of the labour force: a smaller workforce means lower unemployment. A more meaningful measure is therefore the level of employment among the working-age population, according to which the ILO estimates that over 40 per cent of the world’s population is not employed.
The Rise of the Outsiders: How Mainstream Politics Lost Its Way by Steve Richards
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, banking crisis, battle of ideas, Bernie Sanders, call centre, centre right, collapse of Lehman Brothers, David Brooks, Donald Trump, Etonian, eurozone crisis, falling living standards, full employment, housing crisis, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, Neil Kinnock, obamacare, Occupy movement, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley
Once again a semi-consensus formed on the mainstream left and mainstream right around the need for less government, when the crash highlighted the need for more. Mainstream left-of-centre parties were caught in a different trap post-2008. If they tried to challenge the post-crash consensus that favoured deep spending cuts, they were deemed to be irresponsible and reckless, in proposing spending when borrowing was ‘out of control’. But whereas before 2008, and certainly in the early to mid-1990s, the consensus on the so-called centre ground had been a cosy and electorally fruitful terrain, this new consensus around support for spending cuts was as politically dangerous for the mainstream left as challenging it was. The new orthodoxy, known vaguely as ‘austerity’, appeared to victims of the crash in poorer areas as collusion – almost a conspiracy to continue supporting those who had been responsible for the crash, and punishing those who had not.
He became powerless. Mid-term elections of any sort tend to be authority-sapping for elected leaders. Merkel’s CDU party suffered severe setbacks in regional elections, triggering doubts about whether she would, or should, survive much longer. She continued to do so, but with less authority, forced to twist and turn even more than usual in an attempt to appease her right flank, as well as the so-called centre ground. At least Merkel had the fortune, or misfortune, to remain in power. In Australia recent prime ministers would ache for such longevity. Australia was recently served by five prime ministers in five years, a symptom and cause of instability in a tough political culture, where leaders were obliged to seem stronger than they were. All the ingredients appeared to be in place for an elected prime minister to rule mightily in Australia: twenty-three million people, a continent all to itself, with abundant natural resources, a constitutional monarchy, robust rule of law.
Look Evelyn, Duck Dynasty Wiper Blades. We Should Get Them.: A Collection of New Essays by David Thorne
Around her neck, she wore a black choker with a star pendant in the center. Her dark hair, parted in the middle, hung straight down. She looked like a gothic Teletubbie. “Is your girlfriend a Goth?” I’d asked Simon the first time I saw the photo. “No dickhead, she’s a wicken.” “A what?” “She practices Wicca. It’s a modern religion based on pagan rituals.” “Right, so she’s an unemployed Art’s graduate then.” “No, she works in a call centre.” “Did you stop for a photo opportunity on the way to a forest-clearing candle dance?” “No, it was my Grandpa’s funeral.” Apparently Cathy had written and read a poem for the service. Simon showed me the folded A4 program they gave out to those attending. Below a photo of an old man holding a shovel, the poem read; Cry not. I reach to the universe and she embraces me. I welcome her arms.
Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism by Stephen Graham
airport security, anti-communist, autonomous vehicles, Berlin Wall, call centre, carbon footprint, clean water, congestion charging, creative destruction, credit crunch, DARPA: Urban Challenge, defense in depth, deindustrialization, digital map, edge city, energy security, European colonialism, failed state, Food sovereignty, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, Google Earth, illegal immigration, income inequality, knowledge economy, late capitalism, loose coupling, market fundamentalism, mass incarceration, McMansion, megacity, moral panic, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, one-state solution, pattern recognition, peak oil, planetary scale, private military company, Project for a New American Century, RAND corporation, RFID, Richard Florida, Scramble for Africa, Silicon Valley, smart transportation, surplus humans, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Washington Consensus, white flight, white picket fence
Databases captured in the past are continuously processed by computer algorithms to classify, profile, prioritize, exclude and anticipate the future. This is done for any number of reasons: to maximize profitability (withdrawing services from ‘failed’ or unprofitable consumers; profiling neighbourhoods as geo-demographic groups); to customize or personalize services (tailored amazon.com Web pages); to allow premium users to by-pass congestion (road-priced highways; differential call-centre queueing based on records of customers’ profitability; the ‘prioritized’ switching of Internet packages); to support new means of individualized risk management.26 Because these new trends of digitized consumption and tracking straddle the inside and the outside of the nation-state, they interlock with and facilitate broader shifts towards securocratic war. AUTHORITARIAN RENEWAL ‘Homeland security’ is becoming the point of view through which the urban condition is framed, judged, analysed and consequently designed.27 As securocratic transformation proceeds, welfare states are simultaneously being re-engineered as risk-management systems, geared not towards the social welfare of communities but towards controlling the location, behaviour and future of seemingly risky ‘anti-citizens’.28 Phil Scraton terms this ‘authoritarian renewal’.29 A priori incarcerations, bans, and a creeping mass criminalization begin to puncture already precarious legal norms of due process, habeas corpus, the right to protest, international humanitarian law and the human rights of citizenship.
The bombing of Moscow metro cars by Chechen terrorists in February 2004 and the gassing of Tokyo’s underground railways by the Aum Shinrikyo group in March 1995 also exploited everyday mobility systems to murderous effect. In India, meanwhile, as part of a recent spate of urban atrocities, terrorists have sometimes deliberately targeted the electricity systems that supply the high-tech enclaves which house the city’s well-known global software and call-centre industries.15 Such attacks have raised widespread anxiety about the vulnerabilities of all manner of basic infrastructures that, by definition, pervade the everyday life of every modern urbanite (Figure 8.1). The mailings of anthrax spores, for example, were acts perpetrated through the US postal system in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and killed five people. Or consider the case of the Washington snipers who turned ordinary highways and gas stations in and around the Beltway suburbs into killing fields in October 2002, murdering ten people.
Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism by David Harvey
accounting loophole / creative accounting, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business climate, California gold rush, call centre, central bank independence, clean water, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, colonial rule, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, drone strike, end world poverty, falling living standards, fiat currency, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Food sovereignty, Frank Gehry, future of work, global reserve currency, Guggenheim Bilbao, Gunnar Myrdal, income inequality, informal economy, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Just-in-time delivery, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, microcredit, new economy, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, peak oil, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, reserve currency, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, short selling, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, wages for housework, Wall-E, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population
There continue to be, however, some spatially circumscribed markets that facilitate monopoly pricing for certain activities: a hip operation in Belgium costs $13,360 (including the round-trip airfare from the USA) while an identical procedure in the USA costs over $78,000! There is, obviously, a lot of monopoly pricing going on in the US case relative to that of Belgium (almost certainly due to different state regulatory policies). Personal services of this sort have remained partially immune from spatial competition in spite of the rise of medical tourism and the outsourcing of many services to call centres like those in India. These protected markets may crumble, however, in the face of the application of artificial intelligence. Capital is, we can conclude, in love with monopoly. It prefers the certainties, the quiet life and the possibility of leisurely and cautious changes that go with a monopolistic style of working and living outside of the rough and tumble of competition. For this reason also, capital loves commodities that are unique, so particular that they can command a monopoly price.
., Disposable Women and Other Myths of Global Capitalism, New York, Routledge, 2006 Index Numbers in italics indicate Figures. 2001: A Space Odyssey (film) 271 A Abu Ghraib, Iraq 202 acid deposition 255, 256 advertising 50, 121, 140, 141, 187, 197, 236, 237, 275, 276 Aeschylus 291 Afghanistan 202, 290 Africa and global financial crisis 170 growth 232 indigenous population and property rights 39 labour 107, 108, 174 ‘land grabs’ 39, 58, 77, 252 population growth 230 Agamben, Giorgio 283–4 agglomeration 149, 150 economies 149 aggregate demand 20, 80, 81, 104, 173 aggregate effective demand 235 agribusiness 95, 133, 136, 206, 247, 258 agriculture ix, 39, 61, 104, 113, 117, 148, 229, 239, 257–8, 261 Alabama 148 Algerian War (1954–62) 288, 290 alienation 57, 69, 125, 126, 128, 129, 130, 198, 213, 214, 215, 263, 266–70, 272, 275–6, 279–80, 281, 286, 287 Allende, Salvador 201 Althusser, Louis 286 Amazon 131, 132 Americas colonisation of 229 indigenous populations 283 Amnesty International 202 anti-capitalist movements 11, 14, 65, 110, 111, 162 anti-capitalist struggle 14, 110, 145, 193, 269, 294 anti-globalisation 125 anti-terrorism xiii apartheid 169, 202, 203 Apple 84, 123, 131 apprenticeships 117 Arab Spring movement 280 Arbenz, Jacobo 201 Argentina 59, 107, 152, 160, 232 Aristotelianism 283, 289 Aristotle 1, 4, 200, 215 arms races 93 arms traffickers 54 Arrighi, Giovanni 136 Adam Smith in Beijing 142 Arthur, Brian: The Nature of Technology 89, 95–9, 101–4, 110 artificial intelligence xii, 104, 108, 120, 139, 188, 208, 295 Asia ‘land grabs’ 58 urbanisation 254 assembly lines 119 asset values and the credit system 83 defined 240 devalued 257 housing market 19, 20, 21, 58, 133 and predatory lending 133 property 76 recovery of 234 speculation 83, 101, 179 associationism 281 AT&T 131 austerity xi, 84, 177, 191, 223 Australia 152 autodidacts 183 automation xii, 103, 105, 106, 108, 138, 208, 215, 295 B Babbage, Charles 119 Bangkok riots, Thailand (1968) x Bangladesh dismantlement of old ships 250 factories 129, 174, 292 industrialisation 123 labour 108, 123, 129 protests against unsafe labour conditions 280 textile mill tragedies 249 Bank of England 45, 46 banking bonuses 164 electronic 92, 100, 277 excessive charges 84 interbank lending 233 and monopoly power 143 national banks supplant local banking in Britain and France 158 net transfers between banks 28 power of bankers 75 private banks 233 profits 54 regional banks 158 shell games 54–5 systematic banking malfeasance 54, 61 Baran, Paul and Sweezy, Paul: Monopoly Capitalism 136 Barcelona 141, 160 barrios pobres ix barter 24, 25, 29 Battersea Power Station, London 255 Battle of Algiers, The (film) 288 Bavaria, Germany 143, 150 Becker, Gary 186 Bernanke, Ben 47 Bhutan 171 billionaires xi, 165, 169, 170 biodiversity 246, 254, 255, 260 biofuels 3 biomedical engineering xii Birmingham 149 Bitcoin 36, 109 Black Panthers 291 Blade Runner (film) 271 Blankfein, Lloyd 239–40 Bohr, Niels 70 Bolivia 257, 260, 284 bondholders xii, 32, 51, 152, 158, 223, 240, 244, 245 bonuses 54, 77, 164, 178 Bourdieu, Pierre 186, 187 bourgeois morality 195 bourgeois reformism 167, 211 ‘Brady Bonds’ 240 Braudel, Fernand 193 Braverman, Harry: Labor and Monopoly Capital 119 Brazil a BRIC country 170, 228 coffee growers 257 poverty grants 107 unrest in (2013) 171, 243, 293 Brecht, Bertolt 265, 293 Bretton Woods (1944) 46 brewing trade 138 BRIC countries 10, 170, 174, 228 Britain alliance between state and London merchant capitalists 44–5 banking 158 enclosure movement 58 lends to United States (nineteenth century) 153 suppression of Mau Mau 291 surpluses of capital and labour sent to colonies 152–3 welfare state 165 see also United Kingdom British Empire 115, 174 British Museum Library, London 4 British Petroleum (BP) 61, 128 Buffett, Peter 211–12, 245, 283, 285 Buffett, Warren 211 bureaucracy 121–2, 165, 203, 251 Bush, George, Jr 201, 202 C Cabet, Étienne 183 Cabral, Amilcar 291 cadastral mapping 41 Cadbury 18 Cairo uprising (2011) 99 Calhoun, Craig 178 California 29, 196, 254 Canada 152 Cape Canaveral, Florida 196 capital abolition of monopolisable skills 119–20 aim of 92, 96–7, 232 alternatives to 36, 69, 89, 162 annihilation of space through time 138, 147, 178 capital-labour contradiction 65, 66, 68–9 and capitalism 7, 57, 68, 115, 166, 218 centralisation of 135, 142 circulation of 5, 7, 8, 53, 63, 67, 73, 74, 75, 79, 88, 99, 147, 168, 172, 177, 234, 247, 251, 276 commodity 74, 81 control over labour 102–3, 116–17, 166, 171–2, 274, 291–2 creation of 57 cultural 186 destruction of 154, 196, 233–4 and division of labour 112 economic engine of 8, 10, 97, 168, 172, 200, 253, 265, 268 evolution of 54, 151, 171, 270 exploitation by 156, 195 fictitious 32–3, 34, 76, 101, 110–11, 239–42 fixed 75–8, 155, 234 importance of uneven geographical development to 161 inequality foundational for 171–2 investment in fixed capital 75 innovations 4 legal-illegal duality 72 limitless growth of 37 new form of 4, 14 parasitic forms of 245 power of xii, 36, 47 private capital accumulation 23 privatisation of 61 process-thing duality 70–78 profitability of 184, 191–2 purpose of 92 realisation of 88, 173, 192, 212, 231, 235, 242, 268, 273 relation to nature 246–63 reproduction of 4, 47, 55, 63, 64, 88, 97, 108, 130, 146, 161, 168, 171, 172, 180, 181, 182, 189, 194, 219, 233, 252 spatiality of 99 and surplus value 63 surpluses of 151, 152, 153 temporality of 99 tension between fixed and circulating capital 75–8, 88, 89 turnover time of 73, 99, 147 and wage rates 173 capital accumulation, exponential growth of 229 capital gains 85, 179 capital accumulation 7, 8, 75, 76, 78, 102, 149, 151–5, 159, 172, 173, 179, 192, 209, 223, 228–32, 238, 241, 243, 244, 247, 273, 274, 276 basic architecture for 88 and capital’s aim 92, 96 collapse of 106 compound rate of 228–9 and the credit system 83 and democratisation 43 and demographic growth 231 and household consumerism 192 and lack of aggregate effective demand in the market 81 and the land market 59 and Marx 5 maximising 98 models of 53 in a new territories 152–3 perpetual 92, 110, 146, 162, 233, 265 private 23 promotion of 34 and the property market 50 recent problems of 10 and the state 48 capitalism ailing 58 an alternative to 36 and capital 7, 57, 68, 115, 166, 218 city landscape of 160 consumerist 197 contagious predatory lawlessness within 109 crises essential to its reproduction ix; defined 7 and demand-side management 85 and democracy 43 disaster 254–5, 255 economic engine of xiii, 7–8, 11, 110, 220, 221, 252, 279 evolution of 218 geographical landscape of 146, 159 global xi–xii, 108, 124 history of 7 ‘knowledge-based’ xii, 238 and money power 33 and a moneyless economy 36 neoliberal 266 political economy of xiv; and private property rights 41 and racialisation 8 reproduction of ix; revivified xi; vulture 162 capitalist markets 33, 53 capitalo-centric studies 10 car industry 121, 138, 148, 158, 188 carbon trading 235, 250 Caribbean migrants 115 Cartesian thinking 247 Cato Institute 143 Central America 136 central banks/bankers xi–xii, 37, 45, 46, 48, 51, 109, 142, 156, 161, 173, 233, 245 centralisation 135, 142, 144, 145, 146, 149, 150, 219 Césaire, Aimé 291 CFCs (chloro-fluorocarbons) 248, 254, 256, 259 chambers of commerce 168 Chandler, Alfred 141 Chaplin, Charlie 103 Charles I, King 199 Chartism 184 Chávez, Hugo 123, 201 cheating 57, 61, 63 Cheney, Dick 289 Chicago riots (1968) x chicanery 60, 72 children 174 exploitation of 195 raising 188, 190 trading of 26 violence and abuse of 193 Chile 136, 194, 280 coup of 1973 165, 201 China air quality 250, 258 becomes dynamic centre of a global capitalism 124 a BRIC country 170, 228 capital in (after 2000) 154 class struggles 233 and competition 150, 161 consumerism 194–5, 236 decentralisation 49 dirigiste governmentality 48 dismantlement of old ships 250 dispossessions in 58 education 184, 187 factories 123, 129, 174, 182 famine in 124–5 ‘great leap forward’ 125 growth of 170, 227, 232 income inequalities 169 industrialisation 232 Keynesian demand-side and debt-financed expansion xi; labour 80, 82, 107, 108, 123, 174, 230 life expectancy 259 personal debt 194 remittances 175 special economic zones 41, 144 speculative booms and bubbles in housing markets 21 suburbanisation 253 and technology 101 toxic batteries 249–50 unstable lurches forward 10 urban and infrastructural projects 151 urbanisation 232 Chinese Communist Party 108, 142 Church, the 185, 189, 199 circular cumulative causation 150 CitiBank 61 citizenship rights 168 civil rights 202, 205 class affluent classes 205 alliances 143, 149 class analysis xiii; conflict 85, 159 domination 91, 110 plutocratic capitalist xiii; power 55, 61, 88, 89, 92, 97, 99, 110, 134, 135, 221, 279 and race 166, 291 rule 91 structure 91 class struggle 34, 54, 67, 68, 85, 99, 103, 110, 116, 120, 135, 159, 172, 175, 183, 214, 233 climate change 4, 253–6, 259 Clinton, President Bill 176 Cloud Atlas (film) 271 CNN 285 coal 3, 255 coercion x, 41–4, 53, 60–63, 79, 95, 201, 286 Cold War 153, 165 collateralised debt obligations (CDOs) 78 Collins, Suzanne: The Hunger Games 264 Colombia 280 colonialism 257 the colonised 289–90 indigenous populations 39, 40 liberation from colonial rule 202 philanthropic 208, 285 colonisation 229, 262 ‘combinatorial evolution’ 96, 102, 104, 146, 147, 248 commercialisation 262, 263, 266 commodification 24, 55, 57, 59–63, 88, 115, 140, 141, 192, 193, 235, 243, 251, 253, 260, 262, 263, 273 commodities advertising 275 asking price 31 and barter 24 commodity exchange 39, 64 compared with products 25–6 defective or dangerous 72 definition 39 devaluation of 234 exchange value 15, 25 falling costs of 117 importance of workers as buyers 80–81 international trade in 256 labour power as a commodity 62 low-value 29 mobility of 147–8 obsolescence 236 single metric of value 24 unique 140–41 use value 15, 26, 35 commodity markets 49 ‘common capital of the class’ 142, 143 common wealth created by social labour 53 private appropriation of 53, 54, 55, 61, 88, 89 reproduction of 61 use values 53 commons collective management of 50 crucial 295 enclosure of 41, 235 natural 250 privatised 250 communications 99, 147, 148, 177 communism 196 collapse of (1989) xii, 165 communist parties 136 during Cold War 165 scientific 269 socialism/communism 91, 269 comparative advantage 122 competition and alienated workers 125 avoiding 31 between capitals 172 between energy and food production 3 decentralised 145 and deflationary crisis (1930s) 136 foreign 148, 155 geopolitical 219 inter-capitalist 110 international 154, 175 interstate 110 interterritorial 219 in labour market 116 and monopoly 131–45, 146, 218 and technology 92–3 and turnover time of capital 73, 99 and wages 135 competitive advantage 73, 93, 96, 112, 161 competitive market 131, 132 competitiveness 184 complementarity principle of 70 compounding growth 37, 49, 222, 227, 228, 233, 234, 235, 243, 244 perpetual 222–45, 296 computerisation 100, 120, 222 computers 92, 100, 105, 119 hardware 92, 101 organisational forms 92, 93, 99, 101 programming 120 software 92, 99, 101, 115, 116 conscience laundering 211, 245, 284, 286 Conscious Capitalism 284 constitutional rights 58 constitutionality 60, 61 constitutions progressive 284 and social bond between human rights and private property 40 US Constitution 284 and usurpation of power 45 consumerism 89, 106, 160, 192–5, 197, 198, 236, 274–7 containerisation 138, 148, 158 contracts 71, 72, 93, 207 contradictions Aristotelian conception of 4 between money and the social labour money represents 83 between reality and appearance 4–6 between use and exchange value 83 of capital and capitalism 68 contagious intensification of 14 creative use of 3 dialectical conception of 4 differing reactions to 2–3 and general crises 14 and innovation 3 moved around rather than resolved 3–4 multiple 33, 42 resolution of 3, 4 two modes of usage 1–2 unstable 89 Controller of the Currency 120 corporations and common wealth 54 corporate management 98–9 power of 57–8, 136 and private property 39–40 ‘visible hand’ 141–2 corruption 53, 197, 266 cosmopolitanism 285 cost of living 164, 175 credit cards 67, 133, 277 credit card companies 54, 84, 278 credit financing 152 credit system 83, 92, 101, 111, 239 crises changes in mental conceptions of the world ix-x; crisis of capital 4 defined 4 essential to the reproduction of capitalism ix; general crisis ensuing from contagions 14 housing markets crisis (2007–9) 18, 20, 22 reconfiguration of physical landscapes ix; slow resolution of x; sovereign debt crisis (after 2012) 37 currency markets, turbulence of (late 1960s) x customary rights 41, 59, 198 D Davos conferences 169 DDT 259 Debord, Guy: The Society of the Spectacle 236 debt creation 236 debt encumbrancy 212 debt peonage 62, 212 decentralisation 49, 142, 143, 144, 146, 148, 219, 281, 295 Declaration of Independence (US) 284 decolonisation 282, 288, 290 decommodification 85 deindustrialisation xii, 77–8, 98, 110, 148, 153, 159, 234 DeLong, Bradford 228 demand management 81, 82, 106, 176 demand-side management 85 democracy 47, 215 bourgeois 43, 49 governance within capitalism 43 social 190 totalitarian 220, 292 democratic governance 220, 266 democratisation 43 Deng Xiaoping x depressions 49, 227 1930s x, 108, 136, 169, 227, 232, 234 Descartes, René 247 Detroit 77, 136, 138, 148, 150, 152, 155, 159, 160 devaluation 153, 155, 162 of capital 233 of commodities 234 crises 150–51, 152, 154 localised 154 regional 154 developing countries 16, 240 Dhaka, Bangladesh 77 dialectics 70 Dickens, Charles 126, 169 Bleak House 226 Dombey and Son 184 digital revolution 144 disabled, the 202 see also handicapped discrimination 7, 8, 68, 116, 297 diseases 10, 211, 246, 254, 260 disempowerment 81, 103, 116, 119, 198, 270 disinvestment 78 Disneyfication 276 dispossession accumulation by 60, 67, 68, 84, 101, 111, 133, 141, 212 and capital 54, 55, 57 economies of 162 of indigenous populations 40, 59, 207 ‘land grabs’ 58 of land rights of the Irish 40 of the marginalised 198 political economy of 58 distributional equality 172 distributional shares 164–5, 166 division of labour 24, 71, 112–30, 154, 184, 268, 270 and Adam Smith 98, 118 defined 112 ‘the detail division of labour’ 118, 121 distinctions and oppositions 113–14 evolution of 112, 120, 121, 126 and gender 114–15 increasing complexity of 124, 125, 126 industrial proletariat 114 and innovation 96 ‘new international division of labour’ 122–3 organisation of 98 proliferating 121 relation between the parts and the whole 112 social 113, 118, 121, 125 technical 113, 295 uneven geographical developments in 130 dot-com bubble (1990s) 222–3, 241 ‘double coincidence of wants and needs’ 24 drugs 32, 193, 248 cartels 54 Durkheim, Emile 122, 125 Dust Bowl (United States, 1930s) 257 dynamism 92, 104, 146, 219 dystopia 229, 232, 264 E Eagleton , Terry: Why Marx Was Right 1, 21, 200, 214–15 East Asia crisis of 1997–98 154 dirigiste governmentality 48 education 184 rise of 170 Eastern Europe 115, 230 ecological offsets 250 economic rationality 211, 250, 252, 273, 274, 275, 277, 278, 279 economies 48 advanced capitalist 228, 236 agglomeration 149 of dispossession 162 domination of industrial cartels and finance capital 135 household 192 informal 175 knowledge-based 188 mature 227–8 regional 149 reoriented to demand-side management 85 of scale 75 solidarity 66, 180 stagnant xii ecosystems 207, 247, 248, 251–6, 258, 261, 263, 296 Ecuador 46, 152, 284 education 23, 58, 60, 67–8, 84, 110, 127–8, 129, 134, 150, 156, 168, 183, 184, 185, 187, 188, 189, 223, 235, 296 efficiency 71, 92, 93, 98, 103, 117, 118, 119, 122, 126, 272, 273, 284 efficient market hypothesis 118 Egypt 107, 280, 293 Ehrlich, Paul 246 electronics 120, 121, 129, 236, 292 emerging markets 170–71, 242 employment 37 capital in command of job creation 172, 174 conditions of 128 full-time 274 opportunities for xii, 108, 168 regional crises of 151 of women 108, 114, 115, 127 see also labour enclosure movement 58 Engels, Friedrich 70 The Condition of the English Working Class in England 292 English Civil War (1642–9) 199 Enlightenment 247 Enron 133, 241 environmental damage 49, 61, 110, 111, 113, 232, 249–50, 255, 257, 258, 259, 265, 286, 293 environmental movement 249, 252 environmentalism 249, 252–3 Epicurus 283 equal rights 64 Erasmus, Desiderius 283 ethnic hatreds and discriminations 8, 165 ethnic minorities 168 ethnicisation 62 ethnicity 7, 68, 116 euro, the 15, 37, 46 Europe deindustrialisation in 234 economic development in 10 fascist parties 280 low population growth rate 230 social democratic era 18 unemployment 108 women in labour force 230 European Central Bank 37, 46, 51 European Commission 51 European Union (EU) 95, 159 exchange values commodities 15, 25, 64 dominance of 266 and housing 14–23, 43 and money 28, 35, 38 uniform and qualitatively identical 15 and use values 15, 35, 42, 44, 50, 60, 65, 88 exclusionary permanent ownership rights 39 experts 122 exploitation 49, 54, 57, 62, 68, 75, 83, 107, 108, 124, 126, 128, 129, 150, 156, 159, 166, 175, 176, 182, 185, 193, 195, 208, 246, 257 exponential growth 224, 240, 254 capacity for 230 of capital 246 of capital accumulation 223, 229 of capitalist activity 253 and capital’s ecosystem 255 in computer power 105 and environmental resources 260 in human affairs 229 and innovations in finance and banking 100 potential dangers of 222, 223 of sophisticated technologies 100 expropriation 207 externality effects 43–4 Exxon 128 F Facebook 236, 278, 279 factories ix, 123, 129, 160, 174, 182, 247, 292 Factory Act (1864) 127, 183 famine 124–5, 229, 246 Fannie Mae 50 Fanon, Frantz 287 The Wretched of the Earth 288–90, 293 fascist parties 280 favelas ix, 16, 84, 175 feminisation 115 feminists 189, 192, 283 fertilisers 255 fetishes, fetishism 4–7, 31, 36–7, 61, 103, 111, 179, 198, 243, 245, 269, 278 feudalism 41 financial markets 60, 133 financialisation 238 FIRE (finance, insurance and real estate) sections 113 fishing 59, 113, 148, 249, 250 fixity and motion 75–8, 88, 89, 146, 155 Food and Drug Administration 120 food production/supply 3, 229, 246, 248, 252 security 253, 294, 296 stamp aid 206, 292 Ford, Martin 104–8, 111, 273 foreclosure 21, 22, 24, 54, 58, 241, 268 forestry 113, 148, 257 fossil fuels 3–4 Foucault, Michel xiii, 204, 209, 280–81 Fourier, François Marie Charles 183 Fourierists 18 Fourteen Points 201 France banking 158 dirigiste governmentality under de Gaulle 48 and European Central Bank 46 fascist parties 280 Francis, Pope 293 Apostolic Exhortation 275–6 Frankfurt School 261 Freddie Mac 50 free trade 138, 157 freedom 47, 48, 142, 143, 218, 219, 220, 265, 267–270, 276, 279–82, 285, 288, 296 and centralised power 142 cultural 168 freedom and domination 199–215, 219, 268, 285 and the good life 215 and money creation 51 popular desire for 43 religious 168 and state finances 48 under the rule of capital 64 see also liberty and freedom freedom of movement 47, 296 freedom of thought 200 freedom of the press 213 French Revolution 203, 213, 284 G G7 159 G20 159 Gallup survey of work 271–2 Gandhi, Mahatma 284, 291 Gaulle, Charles de 48 gay rights 166 GDP 194, 195, 223 Gehry, Frank 141 gender discriminations 7, 8, 68, 165 gene sequences 60 General Motors xii genetic engineering xii, 101, 247 genetic materials 235, 241, 251, 261 genetically modified foods 101 genocide 8 gentrification 19, 84, 141, 276 geocentric model 5 geographical landscape building a new 151, 155 of capitalism 159 evolution of 146–7 instability of 146 soulless, rationalised 157 geopolitical struggles 8, 154 Germany and austerity 223 autobahns built 151 and European Central Bank 46 inflation during 1920s 30 wage repression 158–9 Gesell, Silvio 35 Ghana 291 global economic crisis (2007–9) 22, 23, 47, 118, 124, 132, 151, 170, 228, 232, 234, 235, 241 global financialisation x, 177–8 global warming 260 globalisation 136, 174, 176, 179, 223, 293 gold 27–31, 33, 37, 57, 227, 233, 238, 240 Golden Dawn 280 Goldman Sachs 75, 239 Google 131, 136, 195, 279 Gordon, Robert 222, 223, 230, 239, 304n2 Gore, Al 249 Gorz, André 104–5, 107, 242, 270–77, 279 government 60 democratic 48 planning 48 and social bond between human rights and private property 40 spending power 48 governmentality 43, 48, 157, 209, 280–81, 285 Gramsci, Antonio 286, 293 Greco, Thomas 48–9 Greece 160, 161, 162, 171, 235 austerity 223 degradation of the well-being of the masses xi; fascist parties 280 the power of the bondholders 51, 152 greenwashing 249 Guantanamo Bay, Cuba 202, 284 Guatemala 201 Guevara, Che 291 Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao 141 guild system 117 Guinea-Bissau 291 Gulf Oil Spill (2010) 61 H Habermas, Jürgen 192 habitat 246, 249, 252, 253, 255 handicapped, the 218 see also disabled Harvey, David The Enigma of Capital 265 Rebel Cities 282 Hayek, Friedrich 42 Road to Serfdom 206 health care 23, 58, 60, 67–8, 84, 110, 134, 156, 167, 189, 190, 235, 296 hedge funds 101, 162, 239, 241, 249 managers 164, 178 Heidegger, Martin 59, 250 Heritage Foundation 143 heterotopic spaces 219 Hill, Christopher 199 Ho Chi Minh 291 holocausts 8 homelessness 58 Hong Kong 150, 160 housing 156, 296 asset values 19, 20, 21, 58 ‘built to order’ 17 construction 67 controlling externalities 19–20 exchange values 14–23, 43 gated communities ix, 160, 208, 264 high costs 84 home ownership 49–50 investing in improvements 20, 43 mortgages 19, 21, 28, 50, 67, 82 predatory practices 67, 133 production costs 17 rental markets 22 renting or leasing 18–19, 67 self-built 84 self-help 16, 160 slum ix, 16, 175 social 18, 235 speculating in exchange value 20–22 speculative builds 17, 28, 78, 82 tenement 17, 160 terraced 17 tract ix, 17, 82 use values 14–19, 21–2, 23, 67 housing markets 18, 19, 21, 22, 28, 32, 49, 58, 60, 67, 68, 77, 83, 133, 192 crisis (2007–9) 18, 20, 22, 82–3 HSBC 61 Hudson, Michael 222 human capital theory 185, 186 human evolution 229–30 human nature 97, 198, 213, 261, 262, 263 revolt of 263, 264–81 human rights 40, 200, 202 humanism 269 capitalist 212 defined 283 education 128 excesses and dark side 283 and freedom 200, 208, 210 liberal 210, 287, 289 Marxist 284, 286 religious 283 Renaissance 283 revolutionary 212, 221, 282–93 secular 283, 285–6 types of 284 Hungary: fascist parties 280 Husserl, Edmund 192 Huygens, Christiaan 70 I IBM 128 Iceland: banking 55 identity politics xiii illegal aliens (‘sans-papiers’) 156 illegality 61, 72 immigrants, housing 160 imperialism 135, 136, 143, 201, 257, 258 income bourgeois disposable 235 disparities of 164–81 levelling up of 171 redistribution to the lower classes xi; see also wages indebtedness 152, 194, 222 India billionaires in 170 a BRIC country 170, 228 call centres 139 consumerism 236 dismantlement of old ships 250 labour 107, 230 ‘land grabs’ 77 moneylenders 210 social reproduction in 194 software engineers 196 special economic zones 144 unstable lurches forward 10 indigenous populations 193, 202, 257, 283 dispossession of 40, 59, 207 and exclusionary ownership rights 39 individualism 42, 197, 214, 281 Indonesia 129, 160 industrial cartels 135 Industrial Revolution 127 industrialisation 123, 189, 229, 232 inflation 30, 36, 37, 40, 49, 136, 228, 233 inheritance 40 Inner Asia, labour in 108 innovation 132 centres of 96 and the class struggle 103 competitive 219 as a double-edged sword xii; improving the qualities of daily life 4 labour-saving 104, 106, 107, 108 logistical 147 organisational 147 political 219 product 93 technological 94–5, 105, 147, 219 as a way out of a contradiction 3 insurance companies 278 intellectual property rights xii, 41, 123, 133, 139, 187, 207, 235, 241–2, 251 interest compound 5, 222, 224, 225, 226–7 interest-rate manipulations 54 interest rates 54, 186 living off 179, 186 on loans 17 money capital 28, 32 and mortgages 19, 67 on repayment of loans to the state 32 simple 225, 227 usury 49 Internal Revenue Service income tax returns 164 International Monetary Fund (IMF) 49, 51, 100, 143, 161, 169, 186, 234, 240 internet 158, 220, 278 investment: in fixed capital 75 investment pension funds 35–6 IOUs 30 Iran 232, 289 Iranian Revolution 289 Iraq war 201, 290 Ireland dispossession of land rights 40 housing market crash (2007–9) 82–3 Istanbul 141 uprising (2013) 99, 129, 171, 243 Italy 51,161, 223, 235 ITT 136 J Jacobs, Jane 96 James, C.L.R. 291 Japan 1980s economic boom 18 capital in (1980s) 154 economic development in 10 factories 123 growth rate 227 land market crash (1990) 18 low population growth rate 230 and Marshall Plan 153 post-war recovery 161 Jewish Question 213 JPMorgan 61 Judaeo-Christian tradition 283 K Kant, Immanuel 285 Katz, Cindi 189, 195, 197 Kenya 291 Kerala, India 171 Keynes, John Maynard xi, 46, 76, 244, 266 ‘Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren’ 33–4 General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money 35 Keynesianism demand management 82, 105, 176 demand-side and debt-financed expansion xi King, Martin Luther 284, 291 knowledge xii, 26, 41, 95, 96, 100, 105, 113, 122, 123, 127, 144, 184, 188, 196, 238, 242, 295 Koch brothers 292 Kohl, Helmut x L labour agitating and fighting for more 64 alienated workers 125, 126, 128, 129, 130 artisan 117, 182–3 and automation 105 capital/labour contradiction 65, 66, 68–9, 146 collective 117 commodification of 57 contracts 71, 72 control over 74, 102–11, 119, 166, 171–2, 274, 291–2 deskilling 111, 119 discipline 65, 79 disempowering workers 81, 103, 116, 119, 270 division of see division of labour; domestic 196 education 127–8, 129, 183, 187 exploitation of 54, 57, 62, 68, 75, 83, 107, 108, 126, 128, 129, 150, 156, 166, 175, 176, 182, 185, 195 factory 122, 123, 237 fair market value 63, 64 Gallup survey 271–2 house building 17 housework 114–15, 192 huge increase in the global wage labour force 107–8 importance of workers as buyers of commodities 80–81 ‘industrial reserve army’ 79–80, 173–4 migrations of 118 non-unionised xii; power of 61–4, 71, 73, 74, 79, 81, 88, 99, 108, 118–19, 127, 173, 175, 183, 189, 207, 233, 267 privatisation of 61 in service 117 skills 116, 118–19, 123, 149, 182–3, 185, 231 social see social labour; surplus 151, 152, 173–4, 175, 195, 233 symbolic 123 and trade unions 116 trading in labour services 62–3 unalienated 66, 89 unionised xii; unpaid 189 unskilled 114, 185 women in workforce see under women; worked to exhaustion or death 61, 182 see also employment labour markets 47, 62, 64, 66–9, 71, 102, 114, 116, 118, 166 labour-saving devices 104, 106, 107, 173, 174, 277 labour power commodification of 61, 88 exploitation of 62, 175 generation of surplus value 63 mobility of 99 monetisation of 61 private property character of 64 privatisation of 61 reserves of 108 Lagos, Nigeria, social reproduction in 195 laissez-faire 118, 205, 207, 281 land commodification 260–61 concept of 76–7 division of 59 and enclosure movement 58 establishing as private property 41 exhausting its fertility 61 privatisation 59, 61 scarcity 77 urban 251 ‘land grabs’ 39, 58, 77, 252 land market 18, 59 land price 17 land registry 41 land rents 78, 85 land rights 40, 93 land-use zoning 43 landlords 54, 67, 83, 140, 179, 251, 261 Latin America ’1and grabs’ 58, 77 labour 107 reductions in social inequality 171 two ‘lost decades’ of development 234 lawyers 22, 26, 67, 82, 245 leasing 16, 17, 18 Lebed, Jonathan 195 Lee Kuan-Yew 48 Leeds 149 Lefebvre, Henri 157, 192 Critique of Everyday Life 197–8 left, the defence of jobs and skills under threat 110 and the factory worker 68 incapable of mounting opposition to the power of capital xii; remains of the radical left xii–xiii Lehman Brothers investment bank, fall of (2008) x–xi, 47, 241 ‘leisure’ industries 115 Lenin, Vladimir 135 Leninism 91 Lewis, Michael: The Big Short 20–21 LGBT groups 168, 202, 218 liberation struggle 288, 290 liberty, liberties 44, 48–51, 142, 143, 212, 276, 284, 289 and bourgeois democracy 49 and centralised power 142 and money creation 51 non-coercive individual liberty 42 popular desire for 43 and state finances 48 liberty and freedom 199–215 coercion and violence in pursuit of 201 government surveillance and cracking of encrypted codes 201–2 human rights abuses 202 popular desire for 203 rhetoric on 200–201, 202 life expectancy 250, 258, 259 light, corpuscular theory of 70 living standards xii, 63, 64, 84, 89, 134, 175, 230 loans fictitious capital 32 housing 19 interest on 17 Locke, John 40, 201, 204 logos 31 London smog of 1952 255 unrest in (2011) 243 Los Angeles 150, 292 Louis XIV, King of France 245 Lovelace, Richard 199, 200, 203 Luddites 101 M McCarthyite scourge 56 MacKinnon, Catherine: Are Women Human?
Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, barriers to entry, Black Swan, business intelligence, call centre, crowdsourcing, en.wikipedia.org, game design, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, Google X / Alphabet X, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, Jony Ive, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Lean Startup, loose coupling, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, Oculus Rift, Paul Graham, QR code, Ruby on Rails, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, social graph, software as a service, software is eating the world, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Y Combinator
Once again, that is integrated into the OS, and took significant effort on Apple’s part to make it a reality (think negotiations with every individual mobile network operator). The last serious attempt at a voicemail startup was Spinvox. Despite blowing through $100 million of venture capital,11 everything ended in tears when it was discovered that its speech-to-text technology was little more than overworked call-centre employees transcribing the audio messages themselves.12,13 Voicemail as we know it is probably not a great opportunity, but the broader messaging arena is where the action is proving to be. OTHER MISCELLANEOUS USES, 10 TIMES PER DAY: This catch-all category represents a good 6 per cent of all interactions with mobile phones. So, while the above opportunities are clear and have attracted lots of competitors, there is still big opportunities around not-yet-invented apps, which have the chance to capture our attention in new and novel ways.
In the world of fast-moving technology your advantage is not the hardware (that’s owned by Apple or Samsung or someone else): rather it is the software you create, the experience and emotion that the software delivers, and the supporting experiences, such as customer service. All of this is created and delivered by people. Not just engineers, designers and product people, but also people in call centres, the support teams answering emails and the people within the marketing, operational and administrative roles. Making sure that each and every one of these people is excited to get up and come to work every day is what great CEOs of great companies do. And they accomplish that with culture. Culture at Scale You need to be deliberate in creating – and then preserving – your culture, even in the early days.
The Establishment: And How They Get Away With It by Owen Jones
anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, bank run, battle of ideas, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, centre right, citizen journalism, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, don't be evil, Edward Snowden, Etonian, eurozone crisis, falling living standards, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, G4S, glass ceiling, hiring and firing, housing crisis, inflation targeting, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), investor state dispute settlement, James Dyson, laissez-faire capitalism, light touch regulation, market fundamentalism, mass immigration, Monroe Doctrine, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, Neil Kinnock, night-watchman state, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, old-boy network, open borders, Plutocrats, plutocrats, popular capitalism, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, rent control, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, stakhanovite, statistical model, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transfer pricing, union organizing, unpaid internship, Washington Consensus, wealth creators, Winter of Discontent
Despite their populist message, they represented the mentalities of the Establishment in their purest form. While ensuring that people’s anger was directed at immigrants – rather than, say, the City, poverty-paying employers or tax-avoiders – UKIP supported policies that could only benefit the wealthy. Until 2014, the party proposed a flat income tax, which would not only slash the amount of tax that the wealthy pay, but would leave call-centre workers in the same tax bracket as billionaires. Although they eventually U-turned over the policy, UKIP still advocated cutting the top rate of tax. The party wants the abolition of employers’ National Insurance contributions, which would hand bosses a breathtaking £50 billion. They advocate the cutting of 2 million public-sector jobs, which would decimate entire communities. They go further than even the Tories in their support for the dismantling and privatization of the NHS.
Defeating the Establishment’s anti-union mantra would benefit all of us. Democracy in the workplace would also shift the balance of power away from bosses. In Germany, workers elect representatives who promote their interests on company boards, or ‘co-determination’ as it is called. If it is good enough for German workers, it is surely good enough for British workers, and would give them a voice in their supermarkets, call centres, offices and other places of work, instead of treating them as chattels to be exploited. It would need to be complemented by other policies to stop workers being reduced to hire-and-fire fodder to be disposed of at will by employers, such as scrapping zero-hour contracts. An official policy of building full employment is also critical, which has the advantage of best guaranteeing the negotiating power of labour.
call centre, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, credit crunch, deindustrialization, deskilling, Downton Abbey, financial independence, full employment, income inequality, manufacturing employment, Neil Kinnock, New Urbanism, Red Clydeside, rent control, Right to Buy, rising living standards, sexual politics, strikebreaker, The Spirit Level, unemployed young men, union organizing, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, Winter of Discontent, women in the workforce, young professional
During the 1990s and 2000s, the richest 10 per cent – a group of business leaders, corporate professionals, financiers, press barons and aristocrats – enjoyed far bigger rises in their income than any other group. In 1998 they possessed more than a quarter of Britain’s income. By 2008 they owned one-third of it. Meanwhile, the least wealthy half of society – millions of pensioners, manual workers, call centre and care home staff, nurses, teaching assistants, cleaners and office workers, as well as those who couldn’t find work or were sick – lived on less than one-quarter of the national income.2 Rising inequality made people unhealthy and unhappy. In their meticulously researched The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett reveal that as economic inequality increased, so too did anxiety disorders and depression.
Superficially my classmates epitomized Britain’s transformation into a middle-class, if not a classless, society. All were in salaried, non-manual positions with impressive titles: they were consultants, administrators and sales executives. Thirty years earlier, 55 per cent of workers had been employed in manual jobs; by the millennium, more than 70 per cent of workers were employed in non-manual work, commonly in sales positions in cafés and call centres, or as data inputters in offices.28 They dressed in smart suits, sported sharp haircuts and most owned at least one car. None was a senior professional (defined by the Census as doctors, academics, politicians, financiers and barristers), but none was unemployed either. Half of them had grown up in council or privately rented houses or flats, but only one of them now lived in rented accommodation.
Affluenza: When Too Much Is Never Enough by Clive Hamilton, Richard Denniss
call centre, delayed gratification, experimental subject, full employment, impulse control, Mahatma Gandhi, McMansion, mega-rich, Naomi Klein, Own Your Own Home, Post-materialism, post-materialism, purchasing power parity, Thorstein Veblen, trickle-down economics, wage slave
CHAPTER 5 1 Reserve Bank of Australia, ‘Household debt: what the data show’, Reserve Bank of Australia Bulletin, RBA, Sydney, March 2003, Table 1. 2 National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, ‘Household debt in Australia—walking the tightrope’, AMP.NATSEM Income and Wealth Report, issue 9, NATSEM, Canberra, November 2004, Table 8. 3 Inspector-General in Bankruptcy, Annual Report, 2003–2004, Insolvency and Trustee Service of Australia, Canberra, 2004. 4 Dun and Bradstreet, ‘D&B expands call centre capacity with Datacom to meet growth in debt business’, 9 July 2002, <www.dnb.com/about/media/press/> [11 January 2005]. 5 Insolvency and Trustee Service of Australia, Annual reports, various issues, ITSA, Canberra. 6 Paul Brennan (Citigroup), cited in Matt Wade, ‘Exports a chink in Howard’s economic armour’, Sydney Morning Herald, 3 September 2004. 201 AFFLUENZA 7 Don Harding, Matt Hammill, Anne Leahy and Peter Summers, ING – Melbourne Institute Household Saving Report, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, University of Melbourne, June quarter 2001, pp. 6–7. 8 National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, op. cit., Figure 12.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution by Klaus Schwab
3D printing, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, clean water, collaborative consumption, commoditize, conceptual framework, continuous integration, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, distributed ledger, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, future of work, global value chain, Google Glasses, income inequality, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invention of the steam engine, job automation, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, life extension, Lyft, mass immigration, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, more computing power than Apollo, mutually assured destruction, Narrative Science, Network effects, Nicholas Carr, personalized medicine, precariat, precision agriculture, Productivity paradox, race to the bottom, randomized controlled trial, reshoring, RFID, rising living standards, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, smart cities, smart contracts, software as a service, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stuxnet, supercomputer in your pocket, The Future of Employment, The Spirit Level, total factor productivity, transaction costs, Uber and Lyft, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce, working-age population, Y Combinator, Zipcar
The Forum’s Future of Jobs report indicates that significant job losses are likely to span both types. While there has tended to be more unemployment due to automation in sectors in which men dominate such as manufacturing, construction and installation, the increasing capabilities of artificial intelligence and the ability to digitize tasks in service industries indicate that a wide range of jobs are at risk, from positions at call centres in emerging markets (the source of livelihoods for large numbers of young female workers who are the first in their families to work) to retail and administrative roles in developed economies (a key employer for lower-middle class women). Losing a job has negative effects in many circumstances, but the cumulative effect of significant losses across whole job categories that have traditionally given women access to the labour market is a critical concern.
Getting By: Estates, Class and Culture in Austerity Britain by Lisa McKenzie
British Empire, call centre, credit crunch, delayed gratification, falling living standards, financial exclusion, full employment, income inequality, low skilled workers, moral panic, New Urbanism, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, unpaid internship, urban renewal, working poor
The men talked about the hopelessness of ever getting a job that offered economic stability and respect among their friends and family; they knew that getting a low-skilled, low-paid job would not give them a valued identity they needed to live on this estate, or even the means to live as ‘a proper family’, which was usually more of an aspiration for the future than a reality in the present. When I spoke to Dread about working and getting a job, his reaction was typical of many of the men on the estate: “There’s no jobs here for anyone, what can I do now, I used to work for the council as a gardener, I liked that but that’s gone now, I’m not doing no gay job in a call centre.” Robert MacDonald et al (2005) have used the term ‘displaced masculinities’ to describe the disengagement and difficulties young working-class men encounter in the transition from youth to adulthood, with the absence of ‘masculine employment’ offering status and respect. In this neighbourhood, status and respect are important resources, and to look for employment that may diminish local respect and status carries far too much risk and too much loss.
Private Island: Why Britain Now Belongs to Someone Else by James Meek
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Berlin Wall, business continuity plan, call centre, clean water, Deng Xiaoping, Etonian, HESCO bastion, housing crisis, illegal immigration, Martin Wolf, medical bankruptcy, Mikhail Gorbachev, post-industrial society, pre–internet, price mechanism, Right to Buy, risk tolerance, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Skype, sovereign wealth fund, Washington Consensus, working poor
Greg Thomson, Unison’s head of strategic organisation, told me that since it crossed the Channel, EDF had gone against prevailing management orthodoxy by reinstating a final salary pension scheme for workers. Unison was given seats with the CGT in an EDF/union body, a ‘European Works Council’, and enough leverage over EDF management to get union recognition for previously non-union workers at a call centre in Sunderland. ‘When London Electricity was privatised, we adopted a policy of returning it to public ownership, and I’m pleased to think I delivered on that,’ Thomson said. ‘Obviously to the wrong nation, but you can’t be too picky.’ Yet EDF’s foreign adventures make Unison’s French counterparts suspicious. They don’t understand why Britain gave away its native electricity industry so easily.
I cursed myself for not grabbing my coat and contemplated going back inside for it. A quick glance at my watch told me there was no time left and, in any case, I would run the risk of waking Emma. I pulled at my collar and huddled closer to the wall as I dialled the number of my bank. A quick automated check of my balance told me my salary had just been deposited. Good. Then I entered the number sequence that would take me through to the bank’s call centre. It seemed to take forever. They probably didn’t get many calls at this time of night. “Good morning,” I said when I finally got through. “I’d like to make a transfer between my accounts, please.” I was paid by automated transfer on the same day of each month and the money always hit my account at 2 a.m. The payday lenders knew this as well and they had my debit card details. They would always try and reclaim the full amount, but if they couldn’t take it all, they took all they could.
Living with several cats, in a British market town, in a house built into a hill, by the main route to and from the local dispensers of alcoholic beverages – a B road that’s one of the busiest in East Mendleham, and which souped-up Peugeots and Subarus speed down on a Friday night – I am doomed never to be so certain. I can’t think of any obvious reason my cats have decided to make their weekly Party Night coincide with that of the human population of East Mendleham. Each one of the furry schemers in my house has his or her clandestine double life, but I find it hard to believe that any of these would extend to a nine-to-five job working in a call centre, and its concomitant end-of-week stress-relief session. It’s not as if it gets to Friday afternoon and the six of them think, ‘You know what? I’m really pooped from five days of sleeping on the sofa, repeatedly cleaning my bottom and having my every whim catered for. What I really need to do is unwind.’ Nonetheless, the end of their working week is the time they choose to slaughter more voles, the night when they meow the loudest, the night when their need to wander and fight and carouse seems most unquenchable.
Meat: A Benign Extravagance by Simon Fairlie
agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, back-to-the-land, call centre, carbon footprint, Community Supported Agriculture, deindustrialization, en.wikipedia.org, food miles, Food sovereignty, Haber-Bosch Process, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Just-in-time delivery, land reform, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Wolf, megacity, Northern Rock, Panamax, peak oil, refrigerator car, scientific mainstream, sexual politics, stem cell, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, University of East Anglia, upwardly mobile, women in the workforce, zero-sum game
And that is indeed what has happened. Urban populations have swelled to previously unimaginable proportions as a result of India’s failure to control its population, which has doubled since Harris was writing in 1973, and its green revolution, which benefits commercial farmers able to afford fertilizers and tractors at the expense of small farmers. Meanwhile the foreign exchange pouring into the computer and call centre industries has led to the rise of an Americanized middle class whose allegiance to cow worship, even from those who remain nominally Hindu, is slim. ‘Junk food is fashionable. Eating meat is regarded as progressive. Modernization is equated with changing from being vegetarian to non-vegetarian, even while the rest of the world attempts to reverse this trend.’41 Abattoirs meeting modern standards of hygiene are constructed on the edge of the new conurbations.
A non-vegetarian Muslim Bangladeshi eats less meat per capita than a partly vegetarian Indian because Bangladeshis are poorer.57 In other words, members of India’s Hindu elite are rejecting its 2,000 year old dietary obligations, and choosing a western diet, just as they are choosing to wear western clothes, listen to western music, speak a western language, and adopt a western name when they work in the call centre. The worry is that the beef that was once reserved for India’s poor is being replaced by goat meat for its wealthy. Although Marvin Harris is observing from a western meat-eating perspective, and Maneka Gandhi, 25 years later, from an Indian vegetarian perspective, their views and conclusions are similar. Gandhi, towards the end of her essay, states: I do not think that India can be seen in terms of capitalists or communists, it is instead a cowdung economy.
The Verdict: Did Labour Change Britain? by Polly Toynbee, David Walker
banking crisis, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bob Geldof, call centre, central bank independence, congestion charging, Corn Laws, Credit Default Swap, decarbonisation, deglobalization, deindustrialization, Etonian, failed state, first-past-the-post, Frank Gehry, gender pay gap, Gini coefficient, high net worth, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, market bubble, mass immigration, millennium bug, moral panic, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, pension reform, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, Right to Buy, shareholder value, Skype, smart meter, stem cell, The Spirit Level, too big to fail, University of East Anglia, working-age population, Y2K
Husband Brian Hatt was a self-employed roofer whose income fluctuated. Though it sank in the recession he was doing well enough to push the joint Hatt household income above the median. He worked with his father and his 24-year-old son Christopher in a business founded in 1954, three generations of Hatts working together. Christopher still lived at home, as did their youngest, twenty-year-old Catherine. She worked locally, at a financial services call centre handling requests for loans. Another daughter, Emma, worked as an assistant at a private nursing home in Rye, and was expecting a baby. During the decade Barbara had moved up from the shop floor, having started as a checkout assistant. ‘I said to myself, I’m better than this, I need something else. I was going to leave but they put me on the customer service desk, and I really liked that, so I stayed.’
affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bilateral investment treaty, borderless world, Bretton Woods, British Empire, Brownian motion, call centre, capital controls, central bank independence, colonial rule, Corn Laws, corporate governance, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, en.wikipedia.org, falling living standards, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial deregulation, fixed income, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, income inequality, income per capita, industrial robot, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, labour mobility, land reform, liberal world order, liberation theology, low skilled workers, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, mega-rich, moral hazard, offshore financial centre, oil shock, price stability, principal–agent problem, Ronald Reagan, South Sea Bubble, structural adjustment programs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, transfer pricing, urban sprawl, World Values Survey
There are certainly some services that have high productivity and considerable scope for further productivity growth – banking and other financial services, management consulting, technical consulting and IT support come to mind. But most other services have low productivity and, more importantly, have little scope for productivity growth due to their very nature (how much more ‘efficient’ can a hairdresser, a nurse or a call centre telephonist become without diluting the quality of their services?). Moreover, the most important sources of demand for those high-productivity services are manufacturing firms. So, without a strong manufacturing sector, it is impossible to develop high-productivity services. This is why no country has become rich solely on the basis of its service sector. If I say this, some of you may wonder: what about a country like Switzerland, which has become rich thanks to service industries like banking and tourism?
Culture Shock! Costa Rica 30th Anniversary Edition by Claire Wallerstein
Costa Rica WHAT KIND OF BUSINESS? The Costa Rican economy is changing rapidly, with agriculture being downgraded and clothing factories declining in the face of cheaper competition from Asia. The country is now trying to re-model itself as a suitable location for high technology industries, foreign In 1988, Intel opened a huge companies’ operation centres for microprocessor plant in the human resources, call centres, country (the country’s GDP figures are now given both conferences and conventions. ‘with’ and ‘without’ Intel), while As an investor, it’s important Procter and Gamble has set up to think extremely carefully about its services and payroll division here to cover all its operations the sort of business you want to from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. set up, especially if your scope Lucent Technologies, Panasonic, is small.
We-Think: Mass Innovation, Not Mass Production by Charles Leadbeater
1960s counterculture, Andrew Keen, barriers to entry, bioinformatics, c2.com, call centre, citizen journalism, clean water, cloud computing, complexity theory, congestion charging, death of newspapers, Debian, digital Maoism, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, frictionless, frictionless market, future of work, game design, Google Earth, Google X / Alphabet X, Hacker Ethic, Hernando de Soto, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, interchangeable parts, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jean Tirole, jimmy wales, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, lone genius, M-Pesa, Mark Shuttleworth, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, microcredit, new economy, Nicholas Carr, online collectivism, planetary scale, post scarcity, Richard Stallman, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, slashdot, social web, software patent, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Whole Earth Catalog, Zipcar
An organisation that wants to match Google’s capacity for innovation needs to match its work culture. Google is the most striking example of a company that has taken elements of We-Think-style work into the corporate world and created an extremely potent mutant: a money-making machine that espouses open-source values. Of course it is ridiculous to imagine that most work could be like this in future. Call centres and retail outlets will be experience and service factories: highly regimented, delivering a high-quality, low-cost service. Trading floors in banks are financial-services factories. Even young scientists complain that lab work is highly repetitive and boring. Yet large organisations will increasingly feel the gravitational pull of open and participative ways of working. Traditional firms will have to become more democratic, open and egalitarian if they are to match the appeal of We-Think work.
A Pelican Introduction Economics: A User's Guide by Ha-Joon Chang
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Berlin Wall, bilateral investment treaty, borderless world, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, capital controls, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, colonial rule, Corn Laws, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, discovery of the americas, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, experimental economics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, global value chain, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Gunnar Myrdal, Haber-Bosch Process, happiness index / gross national happiness, high net worth, income inequality, income per capita, information asymmetry, intangible asset, interchangeable parts, interest rate swap, inventory management, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, liberation theology, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market clearing, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, Northern Rock, obamacare, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open borders, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, post-industrial society, precariat, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Scramble for Africa, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, sovereign wealth fund, spinning jenny, structural adjustment programs, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, trade liberalization, transaction costs, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, Vilfredo Pareto, Washington Consensus, working-age population, World Values Survey
Investment Banks and the Rise of the New Financial System Banks that we do not see: investment banks So far I have talked about the banks we see: the ones with branches on every high street. These are banks like HSBC or NatWest that actively advertise themselves on TV, on billboards and on websites. They remind us how nice they are to their depositors (a free railcard for students! Only UK call centres!). They tell us how willing they are to give us a loan, should we wish to, say, take an impulsive foreign holiday or fulfil our life-long dream of opening a muffin shop. These banks are known as commercial banks or deposit banks.* But then there are banks we do not see. These are known as investment banks. Some of them share brands with their commercial bank siblings. Barclays has a commercial bank, but also has an investment bank named Barclays Capital.
The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths by Mariana Mazzucato
Apple II, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bretton Woods, California gold rush, call centre, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, cleantech, computer age, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, demand response, deskilling, endogenous growth, energy security, energy transition, eurozone crisis, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Financial Instability Hypothesis, full employment, G4S, Growth in a Time of Debt, Hyman Minsky, incomplete markets, information retrieval, intangible asset, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, natural language processing, new economy, offshore financial centre, Philip Mirowski, popular electronics, profit maximization, Ralph Nader, renewable energy credits, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, smart grid, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, William Shockley: the traitorous eight
While predictions (and often rumours) about the future of Apple and its products tend to dominate the public (media) discussions on the company, during one of these media frenzies, journalist David Segal, in his New York Times article of 23 June 2012, discussed the company’s great expansion in the retail segment of its business and the prospect of those new jobs. Apple’s demand in the labour market has shown a greater increase in the retail and other services segments of its business as Apple set up more stores, data and call centres around the country. Even with online retailers such as Amazon threatening to disrupt the retail industry, forcing companies to close stores or to focus on online sales, Apple has been eager to increase its stores and focus on complete consumer satisfaction via person-to-person sales in order to boost sales. Segal (2012) documents the wage disparity between the broad employment base in the retail arm of the business and Apple’s top executives.
Modernising Money: Why Our Monetary System Is Broken and How It Can Be Fixed by Andrew Jackson (economist), Ben Dyson (economist)
bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, Bretton Woods, call centre, capital controls, cashless society, central bank independence, credit crunch, David Graeber, debt deflation, double entry bookkeeping, eurozone crisis, financial exclusion, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Hyman Minsky, inflation targeting, informal economy, information asymmetry, intangible asset, land reform, London Interbank Offered Rate, market bubble, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, Northern Rock, price stability, profit motive, quantitative easing, Real Time Gross Settlement, regulatory arbitrage, risk-adjusted returns, seigniorage, shareholder value, short selling, South Sea Bubble, The Great Moderation, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, total factor productivity, unorthodox policies
However, they will still incur the costs of administering these accounts (staff wages etc.) and providing services associated with them (cheque books, ATM cards, payment system infrastructure, cash handling etc.). Consequently the banks providing these accounts will need to charge fees to customers to cover their costs and make a profit. Table 6.1: Yearly costs of providing a current account Cheque Book £10 (per book) Debit Card £2 Branch £5 Call Centre £8 Staff £15 Banking IT systems £4 Customer Due Diligence (on account opening) £8 MasterCard/Visa £2 Link (cash machine network) £2 BACS and other payment systems £5 Other IT infrastructure £2 Total £63 Source: Tusmor, a consultancy firm that has been involved in setting up new banks in the UK (http://www.tusmor.com/) How much would the account fees actually be?
Unequal Britain: Equalities in Britain Since 1945 by Pat Thane
Ayatollah Khomeini, British Empire, call centre, collective bargaining, equal pay for equal work, full employment, gender pay gap, mass immigration, moral panic, Neil Kinnock, old-boy network, pensions crisis, sexual politics, Stephen Hawking, unpaid internship, women in the workforce
The chapters that follow should be read in the context of key aspects of change in Britain since 1945: 4 ● ● ● ● ● U N E Q UA L B R I TA I N Population — 1945 to early 1970s: high birth rate compared with the periods immediately before and after; falling death rate; high marriage rate and low divorce and ‘illegitimacy’ rates; rising immigration, first from Europe then from the Commonwealth — early 1970s to the present: falling birth rate; falling marriage rate; rising divorce and ‘illegitimacy’ rates; increasing life and health expectancy; substantial immigration from the Commonwealth, then increasingly from other European countries and from crisishit countries worldwide. Work — 1945 to 1970s: full employment (for men); high but falling levels of industrial employment; increasing female employment, a large proportion of it part-time — mid-1970s to present: decline of heavy industry; increased service employment, on a spectrum ranging from low-paid (such as fast-food and call-centre industries) to high-paid work (such as financial services) — early 1980s to mid-1990s: high unemployment, particularly among men, older workers and some minority ethnic groups — 1980s to present: increased hours of work and of reported stress at work, but not the extreme shift away from the ‘job for life’ towards short-term contracts often assumed, except in a few sectors;1 steadily expanding range of employment open to women (although much of it still part-time) and members of some minority ethnic groups, but still with inadequate pay, promotion and training opportunities; unemployment rising again in 2008–9.
Money: The Unauthorized Biography by Felix Martin
bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, capital asset pricing model, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Graeber, en.wikipedia.org, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, fixed income, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Hyman Minsky, inflation targeting, invention of writing, invisible hand, Irish bank strikes, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, mobile money, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, Plutocrats, plutocrats, private military company, Republic of Letters, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Scientific racism, seigniorage, Silicon Valley, smart transportation, South Sea Bubble, supply-chain management, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail
THE COUP D’ÉTAT IN THE CREDIT MARKETS The great wave of economic deregulation and globalisation that began in the late 1970s, accelerated in the 1980s and ’90s, and reached its zenith in the pre-crisis years of the early 2000s brought with it revolutions in the organisation of industries from car manufacturing to the supply of electricity, and from supermarkets to film-making. The watchword was decentralisation: the hundreds of activities once housed in a single corporation could be hived off to smaller and more specialised companies, and co-ordinated by the market using supply chains and networks of astonishing complexity and length.22 Of course, some complained that it went too far—that the costs saved by moving customer care to a call centre in Bangalore or Manila were really just offloaded on to the enraged customers on the other end of the line. But overall, few could deny that in industry after industry the result for the consumer was a phenomenal reduction in costs and improvement in choice. Finance was no stranger to these tectonic shifts in industrial organisation. Until the late 1960s, lending to companies and individuals remained for the most part a simple and familiar business undertaken almost exclusively by banks.
CultureShock! Egypt: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette (4th Edition) by Susan L. Wilson
MANAGING YOUR MONEY: BANKS For a listing of Egyptian banks, addresses and phone numbers go to: http://www.egyptdailynews.com/egypt%20banks.htm Some Egyptian banks have Internet sites, for example: Banque Misr Website: http://www.banquemisr.com.eg/index.asp Alwatany Bank of Egypt Website: http://www.alwatany.net/ Banque du Caire Website: http://www.bdc.com.eg/English/ Emergency Numbers (Cairo) American Express (24 hour customer service) Tel: (02) 2480-1530 Visa Card (Lost Cards) Tel: (toll free in Cairo) 510-0200-866-654-0128 (outside Cairo) 02-510-0200-866-654-0128 Western Union Money Transfer Tel: (02) 2755-5165 (Heliopolis); (02) 2796-2151 (Garden City) Website: http://www.westernunion.com/ (Click “Find A Location”) Resource Guide 311 TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS Train information/reservations Tel: (02) 2575-3555 Country and City Codes The country code for Egypt is 20 Selected City Codes Cairo Alexandria Aswan Luxor Hurghada 2 3 97 95 65 Telephone Service Mobinil (Their mobile numbers always start with ‘012’) Nile City Bldg. 2005C, Cornishe El-Nil, Ramlet-Boulaq Customer Service: 16110 (from any line); 110 (from a Mobinil line) Website: http://www.mobinil.com/home.aspx Vodafone Egypt (formerly Click GSM. Their mobile numbers always start with ‘010’) Vodafone C2 Bldg., Cairo Telemarketing: (02) 2529-4444 (Sun to Thurs 9am to 5pm) Customer Service: 16888 (from any line) Telecom Egypt (Landline service) Call centre: 111 (24 hours daily) Important Telephone Numbers International Operator 120 For Telephone Complaints HQ (Troubleshooting) 188 312 CultureShock! Egypt INTERNET CAFÉS AND SERVICE PROVIDERS Internet Egypt 2 Midan Simon Bolivar, Ground Floor, Garden City, Cairo Tel: 19665; fax: (02) 2794-9611 Email: email@example.com Website: http://www.internetegypt.com/Contact_us.htm At Internet Egypt, you can get free through DSL service (at a reasonable rate) and it has four cybercafés throughout Cairo.
Social Class in the 21st Century by Mike Savage
call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Clapham omnibus, Corn Laws, deindustrialization, deskilling, Downton Abbey, financial independence, gender pay gap, Gini coefficient, income inequality, liberal capitalism, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, moral panic, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, old-boy network, precariat, psychological pricing, Sloane Ranger, The Spirit Level, unpaid internship, upwardly mobile, very high income, winner-take-all economy, young professional
The percentage of people who know a chief executive also increases steadily across the income spectrum, starting at about 20 per cent for those earning the least, and rising to over 80 per cent of those earning the most: high-income people know chief executives at four times the rate of low-income GBCS respondents. The percentages of people who say they know a sales/shop assistant or factory worker, conversely, decline across the income spectrum: the richest people are as unlikely to know a factory worker (or a catering assistant or call-centre worker or people in a few other positions not mentioned above) as the poorest are to know an aristocrat, despite the fact that there are far more low-income workers than aristocrats in the UK. What we are seeing here is a kind of ‘outlier’ effect. Rather than the key differences lying in the middle of the social structure, between middle and working class, the most arresting differences are at the extremes.
Paper Promises by Philip Coggan
accounting loophole / creative accounting, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, debt deflation, delayed gratification, diversified portfolio, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, fear of failure, financial innovation, financial repression, fixed income, floating exchange rates, full employment, German hyperinflation, global reserve currency, hiring and firing, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, inflation targeting, Isaac Newton, John Meriwether, joint-stock company, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, market bubble, market clearing, Martin Wolf, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, negative equity, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, oil shale / tar sands, paradox of thrift, peak oil, pension reform, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price stability, principal–agent problem, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, QWERTY keyboard, railway mania, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, short selling, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, time value of money, too big to fail, trade route, tulip mania, value at risk, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, zero-sum game
In both cases, the core issue was hot or short-term money, which causes damage as it flows into an economy and then again when it cascades out. Free-market economists have argued that there should be no restrictions on capital movements as they allow money to be invested in the most profitable projects worldwide, and thus help the economy operate more efficiently. But it seems clear that countries are much better off if they attract what is known as foreign direct investment (factories, call centres and the like) rather than bank deposits. By its nature, such direct investment is far more likely to be long-lasting; having made all the effort of setting up a factory, a company is likely to think carefully before closing it down. EXCHANGE-RATE CHOICES Earlier chapters have recounted the long struggle by countries to maintain fixed exchange rates and the crises that occurred when they failed to do so.
Fearsome Particles by Trevor Cole
We have to figure out, vis-à-vis our regular window screens, do we charge more for a window filter because it filters out stuff, or do we charge less because it won’t let you see outside?” Across from him, Sandy emitted a long, loud sigh. “Well, you know, hey, it’s an issue. So, okay …” He drew his pen down the list on his pad. “… acceptance … pricing … Next one, customer service. I think we should plan on establishing a toll-free customer service number, and staffing up with call-centre people, to take the calls from customers who’ve had the filters installed and want to know how the hell they’re supposed to see outside.” Sandy had begun to agitate in her swivelling chair like the vanes of a washing machine. “Thank you, Mr. Negativity!” “Once we solve those issues” – Trick made his face and voice sunshine bright – “I think we got a winner!” Sandy stopped hard and faced Gerald with a hand pointing at Trick.
Truths, Half Truths and Little White Lies by Nick Frost
. *** I did not want to go back to working in restaurants. I looked around for other things first before I was forced back on the floor. A cabbie maybe? I liked driving but couldn’t afford a car, I didn’t have a pot to piss in. What could I do? Me and Dion thought about starting a garden-clearing business called Busy Bees. It never came to fruition. I needed to do something so I took the first job that I saw. I spent a week working in a call centre off Great Portland Street. Telesales. It was not for me at all. It was full of Wolf of Wall Street wannabees. Guys with headsets on selling, selling, selling. At points they’d stop yabbering to use the telesales professional’s greatest tool . . . Silence. Let the other fucker speak first. Take away every opportunity the guy on the other end of the phone has to say no until the only thing he can say is, yes.
How to Read a Paper: The Basics of Evidence-Based Medicine by Trisha Greenhalgh
call centre, complexity theory, conceptual framework, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, deskilling, knowledge worker, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, New Journalism, p-value, personalized medicine, placebo effect, publication bias, randomized controlled trial, selection bias, the scientific method
MacLure  has written an excellent philosophical article claiming that with its overemphasis on protocols and procedures, a conventional systematic review degrades the status of interpretive scholarly activities such as reading, writing and talking, and replaces them with a series of auditable technical tasks. This change, she claims, is partly driven by the new managerialism in research and results in ‘the call-centre version of research synthesis’. I once wrote a short commentary called Why are Cochrane Reviews so boring?, arguing that an overly technocratic approach to data extraction and synthesis strips the meaning from a review . But whilst this may be true and MacLure may have a point, we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water. Systematic review, in its place, saves lives. References 1 Caveman A.
affirmative action, Albert Einstein, banking crisis, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bilateral investment treaty, borderless world, Bretton Woods, British Empire, Brownian motion, call centre, capital controls, central bank independence, colonial rule, Corn Laws, corporate governance, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, en.wikipedia.org, falling living standards, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial deregulation, fixed income, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, income inequality, income per capita, industrial robot, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, labour mobility, land reform, liberal world order, liberation theology, low skilled workers, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, mega-rich, moral hazard, offshore financial centre, oil shock, price stability, principal–agent problem, Ronald Reagan, South Sea Bubble, structural adjustment programs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, transfer pricing, urban sprawl, World Values Survey
There are certainly some services that have high productivity and considerable scope for further productivity growth – banking and other financial services, management consulting, technical consulting and IT support come to mind. But most other services have low productivity and, more importantly, have little scope for productivity growth due to their very nature (how much more ‘efficient’ can a hairdresser, a nurse or a call centre telephonist become without diluting the quality of their services?). Moreover, the most important sources of demand for those high-productivity services are manufacturing firms. So, without a strong manufacturing sector, it is impossible to develop high-productivity services. This is why no country has become rich solely on the basis of its service sector. If I say this, some of you may wonder: what about a country like Switzerland, which has become rich thanks to service industries like banking and tourism?
3D printing, Airbnb, American energy revolution, assortative mating, autonomous vehicles, Bakken shale, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, BRICs, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, collective bargaining, computer age, creative destruction, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, Erik Brynjolfsson, eurozone crisis, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, falling living standards, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Ford paid five dollars a day, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, future of work, gig economy, global supply chain, global value chain, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, intangible asset, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, inventory management, invisible hand, Jacquard loom, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, knowledge economy, low skilled workers, lump of labour, Lyft, manufacturing employment, Marc Andreessen, mass immigration, means of production, new economy, performance metric, pets.com, price mechanism, quantitative easing, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, reshoring, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, savings glut, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, software is eating the world, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, TaskRabbit, The Future of Employment, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, very high income, working-age population
Either society will find ways to shore up work or develop substitutes for it, or workers will use the political system to undermine the forces disrupting their world. THE POLITICAL CHALLENGE OF PROSPERITY This should be a good problem for mankind to have. An abundance of labour is arguably the point, to the extent that there is one, of technological progress. It is the beginning of the end of the need to work hard to stay alive. A system in which people actively seek out labour they would strongly prefer not to do – manning call centres to handle the complaints of unhappy customers, or carrying packages around a boiling warehouse, for example – is not one society ought to aim to preserve any longer than technologically necessary. If society can find ways to automate such unpleasant tasks, or to share the work more broadly so that individual workers devote fewer of their waking hours to hard, unpleasant labour, that surely represents human progress.
I, Partridge: We Need to Talk About Alan by Steve Coogan
Me, I took it in my stride, literally shaking at how right, how ruddy correct, it had felt. Throughout that show, I said it a few more times. And I opened all subsequent shows with the same shout. And you know what, it became something of a calling card, voted years later 84th in Channel 4’s 100 Best Catchphrases. And if people to this day shout it out at me, in the street, or when I’m trying to pay for my shopping, or if I ring up a call centre to renew car insurance, or in a doctor’s waiting room if I’m having trouble digesting food, it doesn’t bother me. I’m fine with it. I like it. It makes me feel good and glad. Why wouldn’t it? So if people think it does bother me or that they’re getting one over on me, or that it might be a good way of riling me, they could literally not be further from the truth. I do not give a fucking shit either way.
The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership by Richard Branson
barriers to entry, call centre, carbon footprint, Celtic Tiger, clean water, collective bargaining, Costa Concordia, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, friendly fire, glass ceiling, illegal immigration, index card, inflight wifi, Lao Tzu, low cost carrier, M-Pesa, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, Northern Rock, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Tesla Model S, trade route, zero-sum game
One of the earlier adopters of work at home was the US airline jetBlue which, when it started service in 2000, set up all of its telephone reservations agents as home-based employees in the Salt Lake City Utah region. At the time I remember founder David Neeleman proudly telling me that this initiative created several hundred new job openings for stay-at-home mothers who would be unable to work from a call centre but could do a great job while the kids were at school or the baby was sleeping. Apparently the turnover with this group has been negligible. I know a lot of ‘I’d go crazy if I had to stay around the house all week’ types who find the very idea of working from home to be quite abhorrent. In my own case I have always found working from home – as I have done all my life – reduces the stress levels I know I’d suffer if I were working from an office and bringing work home in the evenings and weekends.
Frugal Innovation: How to Do Better With Less by Jaideep Prabhu Navi Radjou
3D printing, additive manufacturing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bretton Woods, business climate, business process, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, Computer Numeric Control, connected car, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, Elon Musk, financial exclusion, financial innovation, global supply chain, income inequality, industrial robot, intangible asset, Internet of things, job satisfaction, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, late fees, Lean Startup, low cost carrier, M-Pesa, Mahatma Gandhi, megacity, minimum viable product, more computing power than Apollo, new economy, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, precision agriculture, race to the bottom, reshoring, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Ronald Coase, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, smart grid, smart meter, software as a service, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, The Nature of the Firm, transaction costs, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, women in the workforce, X Prize, yield management, Zipcar
Fixers Expert customers can act as companies’ outsourced service units and help fix the problems of other customers, or address the needs of entire communities of users. For example, Yatango Mobile, an Australian telecoms company, offers phone credit to customers who provide technical support. Launched in February 2013 as a “social telco”, the company is only open to Facebook users and offers up to $5 phone credit for customers who recruit friends on the social network. Furthermore, it has no call centres; all technical support is handed over to members in exchange for call credit. Yatango customers earn 10 cents in phone credit for every technical support question they answer on Yotango’s online self-service forum. CASE STUDY 5 giffgaff: the mobile network run by you In 2008, Gav Thompson, head of brand strategy at O2, a UK mobile telecoms provider, attended a conference on social media in San Francisco.
Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist by Kate Raworth
3D printing, Asian financial crisis, bank run, basic income, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, blockchain, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, clean water, cognitive bias, collapse of Lehman Brothers, complexity theory, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, dematerialisation, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, en.wikipedia.org, energy transition, Erik Brynjolfsson, ethereum blockchain, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, full employment, global supply chain, global village, Henri Poincaré, hiring and firing, Howard Zinn, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of writing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, land reform, land value tax, Landlord’s Game, loss aversion, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, Mahatma Gandhi, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, megacity, mobile money, Mont Pelerin Society, Myron Scholes, neoliberal agenda, Network effects, Occupy movement, off grid, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, Paul Samuelson, peer-to-peer, planetary scale, price mechanism, quantitative easing, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, smart cities, smart meter, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the map is not the territory, the market place, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, Torches of Freedom, trickle-down economics, ultimatum game, universal basic income, Upton Sinclair, Vilfredo Pareto, wikimedia commons
Still, they acknowledged that there was no proof of a direct link between economic growth and environmental clean-up, so they put forward three possible explanations for it. First, as countries grow, they argued, their citizens can afford to start caring about the environment and so begin to demand higher standards; second, the nation’s industries can afford to start using cleaner technologies; and third, those industries will shift from manufacturing to services, swapping smoke stacks for call centres. They might sound credible at first but these explanations for the curve’s rise then fall don’t stand up to scrutiny. First, citizens do not have to wait for GDP growth to deliver them the desire and power to demand clean air and water. That’s what Mariano Torras and James K. Boyce concluded when they matched up the very same cross-country data used to create the Environmental Kuznets Curve with measures of citizen power.
Lonely Planet Morocco (Travel Guide) by Lonely Planet, Paul Clammer, Paula Hardy
air freight, Airbnb, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, illegal immigration, Norman Mailer, place-making, Skype, spice trade, sustainable-tourism, trade route, urban planning, urban sprawl, women in the workforce, working poor, young professional
Getting There & Away Air Menara Airport (RAK; 0524 44 79 10; http://marrakech.airport-authority.com; information desk 8am-6pm) is located 6km southwest of town and continues to expand due to the growing number of international and charter flights serving Marrakesh. In the arrivals hall you’ll find currency exchange, an information desk and phone providers where you can equip yourself with a Moroccan SIM card. Royal Air Maroc (RAM; 0524 43 62 05, call centre 0890 00 08 00; www.royalairmaroc.com; 197 Ave Mohammed V; 8.30am-12.20pm & 2.30-7pm) has several flights daily to and from Casablanca (round trip from Dh525, 40 minutes), where you can pick up domestic and international connections. Reconfirm your flight with its 24-hour call centre, and leave extra time for connections in Casablanca. Flights from New York connect to Marrakesh via Casablanca. Bus CTM bus station ( 0524 43 44 02; www.ctm.ma; Rue Abou Bakr Seddiq; 6am-10pm) , southwest of the train station (about 15 minutes on foot), is CTM’s main bus station, from where most services arrive and depart.
Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, British Empire, call centre, colonial rule, Columbine, cuban missile crisis, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Trump, Frank Gehry, glass ceiling, Guggenheim Bilbao, haute couture, haute cuisine, megastructure, Mikhail Gorbachev, new economy, New Urbanism, oil shock, Peter Eisenman, Ronald Reagan, Socratic dialogue, urban planning, urban renewal, V2 rocket, Victor Gruen
There is the debating chamber itself, as well as the backstairs aspects – the briefing rooms, the lobbies, the corridors and the committee rooms – that all play their part in creating a political theatre that can make real the ambitions of those who use it. Such chambers are not necessarily the embodiment of elevated ideals. Politics in the raw mostly looks about as interesting as a reading from the telephone directory. There are endless procedural discussions, nit-picking points of order and for most of the day people sit in rooms, shuffle paper, talk on the phone and check their e-mails as if they were in a call centre. The struggle to make something out of this deeply unpromising material is the real story of the design of Miralles’s parliament. This is also the story, although one with a very different outcome, of London’s new City Hall. The London Assembly’s 500 staff and 26 members could easily have been accommodated in an anonymous office building with no public recognition or iconographic significance.
Empire: What Ruling the World Did to the British by Jeremy Paxman
British Empire, call centre, Cape to Cairo, colonial rule, conceptual framework, Etonian, European colonialism, Fellow of the Royal Society, imperial preference, joint-stock company, Khartoum Gordon, Kibera, land tenure, Livingstone, I presume, mass immigration, offshore financial centre, polynesian navigation, Scramble for Africa, transatlantic slave trade
He took a lot of drugs, had elephant-drawn carriages inside which he could give comfortable dinner parties for a dozen guests at a time, and maintained a harem of 500 women. He was just the sort of pet ruler the British liked. Colonel Mordaunt commanded his bodyguard. * Without the Anglo-Indian community, it is fair to say, the railways, telephone exchanges and customs service of British India could not have functioned. Since independence they have found life harder, although their excellent command of colloquial English has ensured jobs in places like call centres. They have all sorts of unexpected talents. At an Anglo-Indian tea party in Chennai, one of the prominent members of the local community turned to me proudly and pointed out how well everyone danced. ‘It’s part of our heritage,’ he said, ‘natural rhythm. We got it from the British.’ * Like the great orientalist Sir William Jones, Stuart is buried among dozens of less culturally sympathetic colonists in South Park Street Cemetery in Calcutta.
The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley
23andMe, agricultural Revolution, air freight, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, colonial exploitation, colonial rule, Corn Laws, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic dividend, demographic transition, double entry bookkeeping, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, falling living standards, feminist movement, financial innovation, Flynn Effect, food miles, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Hans Rosling, happiness index / gross national happiness, haute cuisine, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, income per capita, Indoor air pollution, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, invisible hand, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John Nash: game theory, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Kula ring, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, Northern Rock, nuclear winter, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, packet switching, patent troll, Pax Mongolica, Peter Thiel, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Productivity paradox, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, rising living standards, Silicon Valley, spice trade, spinning jenny, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supervolcano, technological singularity, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, transaction costs, ultimatum game, upwardly mobile, urban sprawl, Vernor Vinge, Vilfredo Pareto, wage slave, working poor, working-age population, Y2K, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game
Surely now energy usage will eventually also start to fall? That is what I thought, until one day I tried to have an unnecessary conversation on a mobile telephone while a man was using a leaf-blower nearby. Even if everybody lags his loft and switches to compact fluorescent light bulbs, and throws out his patio heaters and gets his power from more efficient power stations, and loses his job in a steel plant but gets a new one in a call centre, the falling energy intensity of the economy will be offset by the new opportunities wealth brings to use energy in new ways. Cheap light bulbs let people plug in more lights. Silicon chips use so little power that they are everywhere and in aggregate their effect mounts up. A search engine may not use as much energy as a steam engine, but lots of them soon add up. Energy efficiency has been rising for a very long time and so has energy consumption.
No Such Thing as Society by Andy McSmith
anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bob Geldof, British Empire, Brixton riot, call centre, cuban missile crisis, Etonian, F. W. de Klerk, Farzad Bazoft, feminist movement, fixed income, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, friendly fire, full employment, glass ceiling, God and Mammon, greed is good, illegal immigration, index card, John Bercow, liberal capitalism, light touch regulation, Live Aid, loadsamoney, long peace, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, mortgage debt, mutually assured destruction, negative equity, Neil Kinnock, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, old-boy network, popular capitalism, Right to Buy, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Sloane Ranger, South Sea Bubble, spread of share-ownership, strikebreaker, The Chicago School, union organizing, upwardly mobile, urban decay, Winter of Discontent, young professional
At the time of writing, the British coal industry employs 5,700 people, about 1,600 of whom are members of the NUM, with just over 1,000 in the UDM.37 Where the pits used to be there are now country parks or urban developments such as leisure and retail centres. The thriving miners’ welfare club in Brampton village, where it all began, was vandalized but reinvented to become a social club for plumbers, caretakers, shop-fitters and call-centre staff, there being no miners left in the vicinity. In Shirebrook, on the Nottinghamshire-Derbyshire border, former strikers and strike-breakers still drank in separate pubs, twenty years later.38 CHAPTER 9 FEED THE WORLD Bob Geldof had been through the roller-coaster of show-business since moving to London from his native Ireland. His band, The Boomtown Rats, turned down a £1m off er from Virgin Records, signed up with a smaller label, and had a huge hit in 1979 with I Don’t Like Mondays, but by 1983 they had been pushed into obscurity by the rise of the New Romantics.
accounting loophole / creative accounting, Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, beat the dealer, Black Swan, Black-Scholes formula, Bretton Woods, BRICs, Brownian motion, business process, buy low sell high, call centre, capital asset pricing model, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, complexity theory, computerized trading, corporate governance, corporate raider, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, cuban missile crisis, currency peg, disintermediation, diversification, diversified portfolio, Edward Thorp, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, Everything should be made as simple as possible, financial innovation, fixed income, Haight Ashbury, high net worth, implied volatility, index arbitrage, index card, index fund, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, Isaac Newton, job satisfaction, John Meriwether, locking in a profit, Long Term Capital Management, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market bubble, Marshall McLuhan, mass affluent, mega-rich, merger arbitrage, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, money market fund, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Myron Scholes, new economy, New Journalism, Nick Leeson, offshore financial centre, oil shock, Parkinson's law, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, purchasing power parity, quantitative trading / quantitative ﬁnance, random walk, regulatory arbitrage, Right to Buy, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, Satyajit Das, shareholder value, short selling, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, technology bubble, the medium is the message, the new new thing, time value of money, too big to fail, transaction costs, value at risk, Vanguard fund, volatility smile, yield curve, Yogi Berra, zero-coupon bond
Clo notes Principal and interest Corporate loans Senior notes Investment Loan principal and interest Principal and interest Special Purpose Vehicle Sponsor bank Sales proceeds Assignment/ subparticipation of principal and interest Mezzanine notes Investment Return Equity Investment Servicing agreement Figure 9.2 Collateralized loan obligation (CLO) DAS_C10.QXD 5/3/07 284 7:59 PM Page 284 Tr a d e r s , G u n s & M o n e y Transferring the loans from the bank to the SPV proved hideously complicated. To do it properly, you had to get the borrower to agree; some banks were too scared even to try. Most did ‘participations’, which created huge legal and customer relations problems. One bank tried to do a securitization of its corporate loan book using participations: it had to set up a call centre to respond to queries from agitated clients who wanted to know if their loan was being sold. Many corporate loans are ‘revolvers’. The borrower can repay the loan and then later re-borrow the money – it’s the corporate equivalent of the credit card. The problem was that if the borrower repaid the money it flowed out to investors. If the borrower wanted to redraw the money then where was it coming from?
A Line in the Tar Sands: Struggles for Environmental Justice by Tony Weis, Joshua Kahn Russell
Bakken shale, bilateral investment treaty, call centre, carbon footprint, clean water, colonial exploitation, conceptual framework, corporate social responsibility, decarbonisation, Deep Water Horizon, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, energy transition, Exxon Valdez, failed state, global village, guest worker program, happiness index / gross national happiness, hydraulic fracturing, immigration reform, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), investor state dispute settlement, invisible hand, liberal capitalism, LNG terminal, market fundamentalism, means of production, Naomi Klein, new economy, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, profit maximization, race to the bottom, smart grid, special economic zone, working poor
For example, 75 per cent of global exploration and mining projects are headquartered in Canada.1 As manufacturing jobs were outsourced to the Global South to find cheaper pools of labour, resource-extractive industries required an “in-sourcing” of cheap labour to work in the dangerous production of dirty energy and the economy around it. This led to a drastic surge in Canada’s temporary foreign worker program, bringing in hundreds of thousands of migrant workers. Migrant workers are the flipside of outsourcing; they are essentially the same labour pool as those who are working in sweatshops, call centres, and factories across the Global South to fill the consumption needs of the Global North and the global elite. They work without health and safety protections, their pay is less than minimum wage, they are often forced to live in dangerous and isolated work camps, they are legally tied down and indentured to a single employer, and their legal immigration status is temporary and precarious. They are perpetually displaceable and deportable, living in the shadows and invisible to most Canadians.
air freight, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, asset-backed security, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, bonus culture, break the buck, Bretton Woods, call centre, capital asset pricing model, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, debt deflation, deglobalization, Deng Xiaoping, diversification, double entry bookkeeping, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial repression, floating exchange rates, forward guidance, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, global rebalancing, global reserve currency, Growth in a Time of Debt, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, light touch regulation, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, mandatory minimum, margin call, market bubble, market clearing, market fragmentation, Martin Wolf, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, new economy, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, open economy, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, price stability, private sector deleveraging, purchasing power parity, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, Real Time Gross Settlement, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, shareholder value, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, the market place, The Myth of the Rational Market, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, very high income, winner-take-all economy, zero-sum game
Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard University, for example, argued in 2003 ‘that the most important and most universal factor supporting world-wide disinflation has been the mutually reinforcing mix of deregulation and globalization, and the consequent significant reduction in monopoly pricing power’.56 An aspect of this was the fall in the dollar prices of many manufactured commodities and labour-intensive services (such as call centres). This, in turn, was partly due to the entry of low-cost producers into the world economy on prices and partly due to the rapid decline in the prices of anything incorporating information and communications technology. Moore’s law – the exponential fall in the cost of computing power first noticed by Gordon Moore of Intel in 1965 – continued to operate.57 In itself, the fall in prices should not affect overall inflation in the medium run.
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bitcoin, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, call centre, capital asset pricing model, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, cross-subsidies, dematerialisation, diversification, diversified portfolio, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Elon Musk, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, financial innovation, financial intermediation, financial thriller, fixed income, Flash crash, forward guidance, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, George Akerlof, German hyperinflation, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Growth in a Time of Debt, income inequality, index fund, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, intangible asset, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, invention of the wheel, Irish property bubble, Isaac Newton, John Meriwether, light touch regulation, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, loose coupling, low cost carrier, M-Pesa, market design, millennium bug, mittelstand, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, new economy, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, obamacare, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shock, passive investing, Paul Samuelson, peer-to-peer lending, performance metric, Peter Thiel, Piper Alpha, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative ﬁnance, railway mania, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, regulatory arbitrage, Renaissance Technologies, rent control, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Schrödinger's Cat, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, the market place, The Myth of the Rational Market, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Tobin tax, too big to fail, transaction costs, tulip mania, Upton Sinclair, Vanguard fund, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, Yom Kippur War
This is 3.7 per cent of the labour force, less than in the USA (4.7 per cent) but more than in France (3.1 per cent) and Germany (2.8 per cent). These figures are derived from the international comparisons made by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).18 The International Labour Organization (ILO) provides slightly higher estimates, but the international pattern is the same.19 However, most people who work in financial services undertake mundane clerical tasks in bank branches, call centres and insurance offices. Four hundred thousand people work in ‘the City’, the geographical area round the Bank of England that is headquarters to most British financial institutions.20 Of these, 150,000 work for financial institutions. Cleaners, security guards and chefs in financial institutions may or may not be included depending on whether the institutions in which they work have outsourced these functions (mostly they have).
Market Forces by Richard K. Morgan
‘You know Mike Bryant, right?’ Chris stopped, a glass in each hand. ‘Yeah. He’s a colleague, so watch what you say next, alright.’ ‘You know he’s working a Cono Sur portfolio at the moment? Running contacts through Carlos Caffarini out of Buenos Aires?’ ‘Yeah, I heard. Didn’t know it was Caffarini, but—‘ ‘It isn’t any more,’ said Lopez abruptly. ‘Last week Bryant canned Caffarini because there were call-centre strikes in Santiago, and he didn’t see it coming. Or maybe he didn’t think it was important enough to chase. Now he’s on a ventilator in intensive care until his health cover runs out, and some fucking seventeen-year-old is running the portfolio at a quarter the old retainer. They were only strikes, Chris. Management abuse of female workers, localised action, no political demands. I checked.’ Chris put down the glasses and sighed.
Multicultural Cities: Toronto, New York, and Los Angeles by Mohammed Abdul Qadeer
affirmative action, call centre, David Brooks, deindustrialization, desegregation, edge city, en.wikipedia.org, Frank Gehry, game design, ghettoisation, global village, immigration reform, industrial cluster, Jane Jacobs, knowledge economy, market bubble, McMansion, new economy, New Urbanism, place-making, Richard Florida, risk tolerance, Silicon Valley, Skype, telemarketer, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, urban planning, urban renewal, working-age population, young professional
But information technology is realigning the production of not only materials and goods but also professional and personal services. The click of a key can send a letter, blueprints, manufacturing instructions, or money across the ocean in a second. Even professional services are being decentralized to distant sites; for instance, in some US hospitals, interpreting X-rays is now electronically outsourced to radiologists in India and Thailand.79 Call centres in India are pitching rug-cleaning services to households in Toronto or New York. Such are the realignments of consumer markets. The rapid circulation of information and capital is stimulating the movement of workers across national borders. Tasks that engaged numerous workers previously are increasingly being done by a few with the help of computers. The privatization of public services is further breaking up stable jobs into contractual work.
How Asia Works by Joe Studwell
affirmative action, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, borderless world, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, capital controls, central bank independence, collective bargaining, crony capitalism, cross-subsidies, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, failed state, financial deregulation, financial repression, Gini coefficient, glass ceiling, income inequality, income per capita, industrial robot, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, land reform, land tenure, large denomination, liberal capitalism, market fragmentation, non-tariff barriers, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open economy, passive investing, purchasing power parity, rent control, rent-seeking, Right to Buy, Ronald Coase, South China Sea, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, urban sprawl, Washington Consensus, working-age population
In short, productivity gains in services are inherently slower than in manufacturing because there is greater dependence in the former on people and on enhancing human skills.2 The second reason why manufacturing is so important is another relative advantage that it has over the service sector. This is that manufactures are much more freely traded in the world than services. Most manufactures can be put in containers and shipped to anyone willing to pay for them. Trade in services faces more practical and political impediments. In practical terms, some services – like call centres or software – are sold at distance down phone and computer lines. But most services require goods or people to travel in two directions, adding time and cost. It is not typically viable, for instance, to send bicycles to India for repairs, or to fly heart-attack patients around the world before operating on them. Politically, there are still greater constraints on trade in services. Genuine free trade in services would require free movement of labour around the world, so that any service could be performed where it was required.
I Think You'll Find It's a Bit More Complicated Than That by Ben Goldacre
call centre, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, Desert Island Discs, en.wikipedia.org, experimental subject, Firefox, Flynn Effect, jimmy wales, John Snow's cholera map, Loebner Prize, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral panic, placebo effect, publication bias, selection bias, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Simon Singh, statistical model, stem cell, the scientific method, Turing test, WikiLeaks
When you forget about numerical constraints, all kinds of things can start to look spooky: in a group of twenty-three people, there is a 50 per cent chance that two of them will share a birthday, because any pair of birthdays on any date is acceptable. When you forget about numerical context, things can look weird too: if Uri Geller gets a nation in front of the telly to tap their broken watches against the screen, and ring the call centre if the watch starts ticking again, then with viewing figures of a few million there will be more excited calls than the switchboard can handle. If you turned to your friend and said, ‘You know, a lot of funny things have happened to me, quite unexpectedly, over the course of a lifetime, but let me take a moment to specify right now the one thing that would seriously freak me out, over the next twelve hours, which would be if my dog trod on the trigger of my gun, and accidentally shot me in the face,’ and then your dog shot you in the calf, that would be weird.
A History of Future Cities by Daniel Brook
Berlin Wall, British Empire, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, carbon footprint, Celtic Tiger, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Deng Xiaoping, desegregation, Edward Glaeser, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial innovation, glass ceiling, indoor plumbing, joint-stock company, land reform, Mikhail Gorbachev, New Urbanism, open economy, Parag Khanna, Pearl River Delta, Potemkin village, profit motive, rent control, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, trade route, urban planning, urban renewal, working poor
In Slumdog Millionaire, the 2008 blockbuster film that reintroduced Mumbai to the world, the protagonist, Jamal, and his brother, Salim, gasp at the prowess of neocapitalist India while looking out across a development of neoclassical high-rise towers. To a Western audience, the development looks like Caesars Palace in Las Vegas—only much, much bigger. “Can you believe it?” Salim asks. “This was our slum. We lived just there, huh? Now it is business, apartments, call centres. . . . Fuck USA, fuck China. India is at the centre of the world now.” The fantastical cluster of thirty-story columned high-rises, looking like ancient Greek temples stretched into modern skyscrapers, is no computer-generated image. It is an actual real estate development set on parkland abutting a British-built reservoir several miles north of the historic heart of the city. Called Hiranandani Gardens, it is named for the real estate developers who built it, the billionaire Hiranandani brothers.
Southeast Asia on a Shoestring Travel Guide by Lonely Planet
active transport: walking or cycling, airport security, Alfred Russel Wallace, anti-communist, British Empire, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, clockwatching, colonial rule, Google Earth, haute cuisine, indoor plumbing, large denomination, low cost carrier, Mason jar, megacity, period drama, Skype, South China Sea, spice trade, superstar cities, sustainable-tourism, trade route, urban sprawl, white picket fence, women in the workforce
To dial long distance within Myanmar, dial the area code (including the ‘0’) and the number. International Calls Official telephone (call) centres are sometimes the only way to call overseas, though sometimes this can be done on the street too, through vendors offering use of their mobile phones. Generally, it costs about US$5 per minute to call Australia or Europe and US$6 per minute to phone North America. You’ll usually be asked to pay in US dollars. In March 2011 the authorities banned Skype and other internet-based call services at internet cafes, as the lower rates charged for such calls was impacting the revenue made at government call centres. To call Myanmar from abroad, dial your country’s international access code, then 95 (Myanmar’s country code), the area code (minus the ‘0’) and the five- or six-digit number.
This doesn’t necessarily mean bringing a friend from home; you can often pair up with other travellers you meet on the way. Work Teaching English is the easiest way to support yourself in Southeast Asia. For short-term gigs, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Jakarta have language schools and a high turnover of staff. In the Philippines, English speakers are often needed as language trainers for call centres. In Indonesia and Thailand you may be able to find some dive-school work. Payaway (www.payaway.co.uk) provides a handy online list of language schools and volunteer groups looking for recruits for its Southeast Asian programs. Transitions Abroad (www.transitionsabroad.com) is a web portal that covers all aspects of overseas life, including landing a job in a variety of fields. Top of section Transport This chapter gives an overview of the transport options for getting to and around Southeast Asia.
Great Britain by David Else, Fionn Davenport
active transport: walking or cycling, Albert Einstein, Beeching cuts, British Empire, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, colonial rule, Columbine, congestion charging, credit crunch, David Attenborough, Etonian, food miles, glass ceiling, global village, haute cuisine, illegal immigration, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, land reform, Livingstone, I presume, Mahatma Gandhi, mass immigration, mega-rich, negative equity, new economy, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, period drama, place-making, Skype, Sloane Ranger, South of Market, San Francisco, Stephen Hawking, the market place, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Winter of Discontent
Well, there’s a bit of that for sure, but Newcastle is about a hell of a lot more than coal slags. There’s culture, heritage and some of Britain’s most elegant streets, while the absolutely brilliant and alternative Ouseburn testifies to a nightlife beyond the alco-pop shots and high-octane cheesefest favoured by so many hen and stag parties. * * * DID YOU KNOW? The Northeast is the call-centre capital of England, mostly because the area desperately needed to attract jobs to the region following the demise of traditional industry. But another reason might have to do with the distinctive accent, which polls have shown to be the friendliest and most trustworthy of all English accents! * * * When you do come, take a moment to cherish the city’s greatest strength: the locals. Geordies are a fiercely independent bunch, tied together by history, adversity and that impenetrable dialect, the closest language to 1500-year-old Anglo-Saxon left in England.
Traveline ( 0871 200 2233; www.traveline.org.uk) is a very useful information service covering bus, coach, taxi and train services nationwide, with numerous links to help plan your journey. By phone, you get transferred automatically to an advisor in the region you’re phoning from; for details on another part of the country, you need to key in a code number ( 81 for London, 874 for Cumbria, etc) – for a full list, go to the Traveline home page and click on ‘call centre codes’. A final note: travelling between England, Scotland and Wales is easy. The bus and train systems are fully integrated and in most cases you won’t even know you’ve crossed the border. Passports are not required – although some Scots and Welsh may think they should be! Return to beginning of chapter AIR Britain’s domestic air companies include British Airways, BMI, bmibaby, easyJet and Ryanair.
A Classless Society: Britain in the 1990s by Alwyn W. Turner
Berlin Wall, Bob Geldof, British Empire, call centre, centre right, deindustrialization, demand response, Desert Island Discs, endogenous growth, Etonian, eurozone crisis, facts on the ground, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, first-past-the-post, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, friendly fire, full employment, global village, greed is good, inflation targeting, means of production, millennium bug, minimum wage unemployment, moral panic, negative equity, Neil Kinnock, offshore financial centre, old-boy network, period drama, Ronald Reagan, sexual politics, South Sea Bubble, Stephen Hawking, upwardly mobile, Winter of Discontent, women in the workforce
In 1998 it announced the creation of a new measure of social classification, replacing the old six-band system with seventeen categories, a move heralded in the press as a recognition that ‘We are all middle class now.’ But under the more familiar distinctions, where the working class were defined as socio-economic groups C2, D and E, there were around twenty-two million members of this supposedly endangered sector of the population at the end of the 1990s. Even in the exciting new world of technology, most of the jobs created were low-paid and low-skilled; the rise of the call centre merely provided a modern twist on the sweatshop. The reality was still a country deeply divided by class: working hours were longer in Britain than in any of its EU partners, while chief executives’ pay was higher. Labour’s rhetoric in opposition about fat cats didn’t seem to have made much impact. As the leadership of both major parties became ever more homogenised, vast parts of the electorate were going unrepresented.
Even when we could hire good people, we discovered that most of them viewed customer service as a temporary job, something to bring in some extra money while they were going to school or separately pursuing their real career or calling. Part of the problem was the high cost of living, and part of the problem was the culture. Working in a call center just wasn’t something that people in the Bay Area wanted to do. Toward the end of 2003, we started looking around at different options for expanding our call center. We initially considered outsourcing our call center overseas to India or the Philippines, but we remembered our hard lesson from working with eLogistics: Never outsource your core competency. If we were trying to build our brand to be about the very best customer service, we knew that we shouldn’t be outsourcing that department. Wherever we decided to open up our call center, we had to own and run it ourselves. After some research, we narrowed the list of possible locations down to Phoenix, Louisville, Portland, Des Moines, Sioux City, and Las Vegas.
We receive thousands and thousands of phone calls and e-mails every single day, and we really view each contact as an opportunity to build the Zappos brand into being about the very best customer service and customer experience. Seeing every interaction through a branding lens instead of an expense-minimization lens means we run our call center very differently from most call centers. Most call centers measure their employees’ performance based on what’s known in the industry as “average handle time,” which focuses on how many phone calls each rep can take in a day. This translates into reps worrying about how quickly they can get a customer off the phone, which in our eyes is not delivering great customer service. Most call centers also have scripts and force their reps to try to upsell customers to generate additional revenue. At Zappos, we don’t measure call times (our longest phone call was almost six hours long!), and we don’t upsell.
After some research, we narrowed the list of possible locations down to Phoenix, Louisville, Portland, Des Moines, Sioux City, and Las Vegas. Our original plan was simply to open up a satellite call center, but as we thought more about it, we realized that if we did that, our actions wouldn’t really be matching our words. To build the Zappos brand into being about the very best customer service, we needed to make sure customer service was the entire company, not just a department. We needed to move our entire headquarters from San Francisco to wherever we wanted to build out our call center, which we had recently named our Customer Loyalty Team (or just CLT). A few of us discussed this at lunch one day and thought about the different options we had. In the end, we decided that Las Vegas would be the best move for the company. It wasn’t the cheapest option for us, but we thought it would make our existing employees the happiest.
The New Division of Labor: How Computers Are Creating the Next Job Market by Frank Levy, Richard J. Murnane
Atul Gawande, call centre, computer age, Computer Numeric Control, correlation does not imply causation, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deskilling, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Gunnar Myrdal, hypertext link, index card, information asymmetry, job automation, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, pattern recognition, profit motive, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, speech recognition, talking drums, telemarketer, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, working poor
As he was NEW DIVISIONS OF LABOR 3 writing up the receipt for the repair, he apologized for having had to call for directions thirty minutes before he arrived. I carry maps but the work order didn’t even have your street address. It just had “HOUSE” and your phone number. The problem is that they’ve just switched our call center from India to Costa Rica. They’re still learning the procedures down there and they must be having trouble with addresses. The explanation was plausible—a call center that used operators who read scripts on computer screens moved to a source of even cheaper labor. In fact, however, the work order had not been taken by a human operator but by a computer using speech recognition software. By reading menus to the caller, the software could prompt the caller to identify the problem as being in a refrigerator, speciﬁcally, the ice-maker.
A customer service representative in a job similar to Mary’s summarized the situation nicely: “In this department, I don’t think it really matters how much you know but how much you can ﬁnd out.”3 LITERACY AND THE PACE OF CHANGE Changes in Mary Simmons’s job began with the deregulation of the telephone industry and the ensuing competitive pressure. Competition, in turn, highlighted two principles: • Computerization accelerates the pace of job change. • Rapid job change raises the value of verbal and quantitative literacy. In response to competitive pressure, Mary’s employer sought to lower costs by consolidating small customer-service ofﬁces into large call centers. As in other competitive strategies, computers made the consolidation feasible. Large call centers justify their existence by serving cus- 102 CHAPTER 6 tomers in multiple states, and this increases both the variety of questions Mary receives and the complexity of the work needed to ﬁnd the answers. Mary’s training has taught her to be good at translating customers’ questions into searchable queries. But without computerized databases to complement her skills, she and her coworkers could not answer the wide range of questions they face every day.
The speech recognition software could recognize the caller’s phone number and establish that the home address was a “HOUSE” rather than an apartment. While the software was not yet good enough to recognize the home address itself, it had captured enough information to print up a work order and append it to the technician’s schedule. In 1990 that work order would have been taken by an operator sitting somewhere in the United States. That operator’s job is now gone. Whether the job was displaced by a computer or a Costa Rican call center is unimportant for the moment. What is important is that the loss of the operator’s job is part of a much larger pattern. As recently as 1970, more than one-half of employed U.S. adults worked in two broad occupational categories: blue-collar jobs and clerical jobs (including the operator who would have written up the work order). Few people got rich in these jobs, but they supported middle- and lowermiddle-class living and many were open to high school graduates.
Asterisk Cookbook by Leif Madsen, Russell Bryant
Monitoring and Barging into Live Calls Problem As the manager of a call center, you need to be able to listen in on calls to help with training new employees. Solution The most simple solution is to simply connect to any active channel using the ChanSpy() application, which then provides you the ability to flip through active channels using DTMF. The b option means to only listen to actively bridged calls: [CallCenterTraining] exten => 500,1,Verbose(2,Listening to live agents) same => n,ChanSpy(,b) If you only want to spy on certain channels, you can use the chanprefix option to control which types of channels you want to listen to. So, if we just want to listen to SIP channels involved in bridged calls, we would do this: [CallCenterTraining] exten => 500,1,Verbose(2,Listening to live agents) same => n,ChanSpy(SIP,b) Discussion The default DTMF keys for controlling ChanSpy() are as follows: # Cycles through the volume level * Stop listening to the current channel and find another one to listen to There are a lot more options for ChanSpy() and ways to use it in your dialplan.
With some creativity, ChanSpy() can be used in many situations it wasn’t necessarily designed for (see Triggering Audio Playback into a Call Using DTMF). Not only can ChanSpy() be used to listen to the conversation between channels, but you can also speak to a single channel where only one person can hear you, referred to as whispering. Whispering to a channel is commonplace in situations where a manager of a call center is training an employee, and needs to listen to an agent during the call. To enable whispering to channels that are being spied on, use the w option: [CallCenterTraining] exten => 500,1,Verbose(2,Listening to live agents with whisper) same => n,ChanSpy(,bw) Of course, we’re going to be looking for some finer grain control for who we’re listening to. Perhaps we have several groups of people (multiple campaigns, different products, etc.) we want to separate and listen to.
Using the same technique we can verify that: *CLI> core show channel SIP/0000FFFF0001-TAB ...[snip]... BRIDGEPVTCALLID=ODIxNTAyNGUyNWViZmM5NGIyOGY1ZTVjYTQ1N2ExNTI. BRIDGEPEER=SIP/0000FFFF0004-00000000 GOSUB_RETVAL= SPYGROUP=training ...[snip]... Having verified our channel variable has been set on the correct channel, lets create the dialplan that will allow our manager to listen and whisper to the channels in the training group: [CallCenterTraining] exten => 500,1,Verbose(2,Listening to live agents) same => n,ChanSpy(SIP,bwg(training)) With minor modifications to our existing ChanSpy() code, we can now listen to only channels in the training group (option g(training)) and whisper to them (option w). This same technique could be applied to only listening to specified extensions or callers by placing only a single channel into the spygroup.
Big Data at Work: Dispelling the Myths, Uncovering the Opportunities by Thomas H. Davenport
Automated Insights, autonomous vehicles, bioinformatics, business intelligence, business process, call centre, chief data officer, cloud computing, commoditize, data acquisition, Edward Snowden, Erik Brynjolfsson, intermodal, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, knowledge worker, lifelogging, Mark Zuckerberg, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Narrative Science, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, New Journalism, recommendation engine, RFID, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, sorting algorithm, statistical model, Tesla Model S, text mining
Most of the executives we interviewed introduced big data tech nologies through an initial proof-of-concept approach to illustrate the high performance, lower cost of ownership, scale, and advanced business capabilities of big data solutions by applying them to current, often cumbersome, business processes. In some cases the proofs of concept showed the need for changes in other processes. At a major US airline, for example, analysis of call center speech-to-text data showed that customer interactions with call centers could be useful in predicting customer behavior, but also that call center processes needed some basic improvements that were more important than finer-grained predictive models. Other companies see the promise of big data to bring together disparate platform and processing functions that were previously fragmented and siloed. The executives I interviewed spoke aspirationally of the ability to combine data reporting, analytics, exploration, protection, and recovery functions on a single big data platform, thereby eliminating the need for complicated programming and specialized skills to tie legacy systems together.
In that industry—as well as several others, including retail—the big challenge Chapter_03.indd 67 03/12/13 11:28 AM 68 big data @ work is to understand multichannel customer relationships. They are using customer “journeys” through the tangle of websites, call centers, tellers, and other branch personnel to better understand the paths that customers follow through the organization, and how those paths affect attrition or the purchase of particular financial services. The data sources on multichannel customer journeys are unstructured or semistructured. They include website clicks, transaction records, bankers’ notes, and voice recordings from call centers. The volumes are quite large—12 billion rows of data for one of the banks. The firms are beginning to understand common journeys, describing them with segment names, ensuring that the customer interactions are high quality, and correlating journeys with customer opportunities and problems.
These big data–based models will surely penetrate to other content creation organizations shortly—particularly because they seem to be very effective. Banks The banking industry is already beginning to take advantage of the data it has on customer payments and financial activities, though there is plenty of room to grow with big data. Banking is now a multichannel activity, and some large banks are starting to understand the complex journeys customers make through call centers, branches, ATMs, and online websites to meet their financial needs. They are also beginning to customize marketing offers to customers. However, I have yet to find the bank that truly uses all of its customers’ financial data to make personalized and high-quality recommendations for financial products. I hold out hope that this will come in the big data age. Electric Utilities The opportunities in the utilities industry are quite substantial, though companies would have to make significant investments to make them a reality.
Ada Lovelace, autonomous vehicles, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Black Swan, call centre, capital asset pricing model, commoditize, computer age, corporate governance, creative destruction, deskilling, en.wikipedia.org, Freestyle chess, future of work, Google Glasses, Grace Hopper, industrial cluster, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, job automation, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, Marc Andreessen, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Narrative Science, new economy, rising living standards, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, theory of mind, Tim Cook: Apple, transaction costs
She calls it the skill “I need to develop in myself, my teams, and my children” and concludes that “empathy will be the difference between good and great.” Those employers are not speculating. When Jim Bush was in charge of American Express’s call centers, he told me how he took the revolutionary step of throwing out the scripts that come up on the screens of the workers who answer your phone calls, and that cause most of us to hate the experience. Instead, he had the screens display information about the customer, and the service rep could say what he or she wished—a change, he said, that “brings their personality to life and brings one-to-one connections, which are what ultimately build and sustain relationships.” To make the change work, AmEx had to change the way it recruited those employees, focusing not on candidates with call-center experience but on those from top hotels and cruise lines, for example—people “who love to build relationships and are able to empathize and connect with customers.”
The people who made teams most effective may or may not have been the best knowledge workers. They were definitely the best relationship workers. PUTTING THE DISCOVERIES TO WORK Human interaction is so powerful that increasing it just a little improves group performance a lot. For example, Pentland and his lab investigated a huge Bank of America call center where the emphasis was on productivity; reducing the average call handle time at that one call center by just 5 percent would save the company $1 million a year. The bank grouped employees into teams of about twenty, but they didn’t interact much, in part because their work was entirely solitary, sitting in a cubicle with a phone and a computer. They were unlikely to run into each other very often anyway because the bank staggered break times in order to keep staffing levels steady.
Yet the members did interact a bit, and when Pentland asked them to wear the sociometric badges for six weeks, he found that the best predictor of team productivity was how much the members interacted in the little time they had, and what he calls engagement, the degree to which all team members were involved in the interaction. So Pentland proposed that managers try an experiment: Give a whole twenty-person team their coffee break at the same time. In a call center of over 3,000 employees, it was easy to shift others’ breaks to maintain service. The result was that group members interacted more, though it still wasn’t much; more of them were involved in the interaction; and productivity rocketed. The effects were so clear that the bank switched to team-based breaks at all its call centers, estimating the move would save $15 million a year. The same thing seems to happen everywhere. Even when people work mostly on their own, the right patterns of interaction when they do get together—as distinct from individuals’ personalities or anything else—are the main way groups get better.
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink
affirmative action, call centre, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Dean Kamen, deliberate practice, Firefox, Frederick Winslow Taylor, functional fixedness, game design, George Akerlof, Isaac Newton, Jean Tirole, job satisfaction, knowledge worker, performance metric, profit maximization, profit motive, Results Only Work Environment, side project, the built environment, Tony Hsieh, transaction costs, zero-sum game
When a call comes in, they listen to the caller and then, in most cases, tap a few buttons on their computer to retrieve a script. Then they follow that script, sometimes word for word, in the hope of getting the caller off the line as quickly as possible. It can be deadening work, made drearier still because managers in many call centers, in an effort to boost productivity, listen in on reps' conversations and monitor how long each call lasts. Little wonder, then, that call centers in the United States and the UK have annual turnover rates that average about 35 percent, double the rate for other jobs. In some call centers the annual turnover rate exceeds 100 percent, meaning that, on average, none of the people working there today will be there a year from now. Tony Hsieh, founder of the online shoe retailer (now part of ), thought there was a better way to recruit, prepare, and challenge such employees.
Technique When you call a customer service line to complain about your cable television bill or to check the whereabouts of that blender you ordered, the phone usually rings in a colorless cavern known as a call center. The person who answers the call, a customer service representative, has a tough job. He typically sits for hours among a warren of cramped cubicles headset strapped on, a diet soda by his side. The pay is paltry. And the people the rep encounters on the phone one after another after another generally aren't ringing up to offer kudos or to ask about the rep's weekend plans. They've got a gripe, a frustration, or a problem that needs solving. Right. Now. If that weren't trying enough, call center reps have little decision latitude and their jobs are often the very definition of routine. When a call comes in, they listen to the caller and then, in most cases, tap a few buttons on their computer to retrieve a script.
Glater, Economy Pinches the Billable Hour at Law Firms, New York Times , January 19, 2009. Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It (New York: Portfolio, 2008). Tamara J. Erickson, Task, Not Time: Profile of a Gen Y Job, Harvard Business Review (February 2008): 19. Diane Brady and Jena McGregor, Customer Service Champs, BusinessWeek , March 2, 2009. Martha Frase-Blunt, Call Centers Come Home, HR Magazine 52 ( January 2007): 84; Ann Bednarz, Call Centers Are Heading for Home, Network World , January 30, 2006. Paul Restuccia, What Will Jobs of the Future Be? Creativity, Self-Direction Valued, Boston Herald , February 12, 2007. Gary Hamel, The Future of Management (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2007). Bharat Mediratta, as told to Julie Bick, The Google Way: Give Engineers Room, New York Times , October 21, 2007.
Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World by Christopher Steiner
23andMe, Ada Lovelace, airport security, Al Roth, algorithmic trading, backtesting, big-box store, Black-Scholes formula, call centre, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, delta neutral, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, dumpster diving, Flash crash, Gödel, Escher, Bach, High speed trading, Howard Rheingold, index fund, Isaac Newton, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, knowledge economy, late fees, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, medical residency, money market fund, Myron Scholes, Narrative Science, PageRank, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Pierre-Simon Laplace, prediction markets, quantitative hedge fund, Renaissance Technologies, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Sergey Aleynikov, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, speech recognition, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, transaction costs, upwardly mobile, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y Combinator
By exploiting this fact, NASA had remotely hacked the human brain. In 2000, Conway’s eLoyalty started losing business to larger consultancies with more expertise in moving some call center personnel offshore. As he looked for other ways to grow eLoyalty, Conway found few paths not already clogged with competitors. The business of call center software offered only small paths of growth that would have to be won inch by inch. The only way to leap far ahead of the pack would be to innovate, to create something that no other player could offer. The seed of NASA’s work had begun to bloom in Conway’s head. Along with the working of the space agency’s process, Conway knew two other things well: his own business of call center optimization and, as CEO of a Nasdaq company, the latest and greatest tricks being performed on Wall Street. Knowing the strides made in speech recognition, in 2000 Conway thought that perhaps a mind-reading bot could be constructed after all.
The psychiatrist considered Conway’s pitch and thought not only that it had merit but also that it could change the world of business and the practice of psychology. Inventing a product to change customer service could by itself prove immensely lucrative. The customer service industry is far larger than most people realize. AT&T, for instance, has 100,000 seats in its call centers and spends $4 billion a year to run them. The four million call center employees in the United States, in fact, represent the third-largest occupational category in the country. Inventing a better tool in this industry could be worth multiple billions of dollars every year. For years, constructing a bot that could quantify spoken words and determine personalities and thoughts was impossible. The technology—software and hardware—just wasn’t ready.
Simpson defense team asked him to assess jurors’ personalities in its 1995 trial. Working with Telecom, Capers became close with Kelly Conway, who eventually rose to be CEO. The few years the two worked together were formative ones for Conway. He became engrossed with the theories and methods established at NASA for evaluating, reading, and predicting people. Conway eventually left Telecom to found eLoyalty, a consultancy for companies with large call centers, and he buried away in his head what he’d learned about assessing people. “I had a feeling it would someday become really useful,” Conway says. Conway’s eLoyalty grew and did well; it eventually went public and its stock was traded on the Nasdaq. But Conway didn’t forget about NASA or Capers.4 People’s core personalities rarely change. Exceptions happen when a person is exposed to long-term abuse and stress, but these cases are outliers.
The Global Auction: The Broken Promises of Education, Jobs, and Incomes by Phillip Brown, Hugh Lauder, David Ashton
active measures, affirmative action, barriers to entry, Branko Milanovic, BRICs, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, collective bargaining, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, deskilling, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, future of work, glass ceiling, global supply chain, immigration reform, income inequality, industrial cluster, industrial robot, intangible asset, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labour market flexibility, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, market bubble, market design, neoliberal agenda, new economy, Paul Samuelson, pensions crisis, post-industrial society, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, QWERTY keyboard, race to the bottom, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, stem cell, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, trade liberalization, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, winner-take-all economy, working poor, zero-sum game
This was not restricted to the arrogance of some Western managers, as it was also found within Asia. One of the European managers we interviewed was worried about the level of racism that remained in assuming that Indian university graduates would be happy working in a call center if it was for a European or American company. “The top talent can compete on a global stage; we’ve already proved that, but you can’t expect these people to go and work in a call center. But some people seem to believe that is going to happen; it’s bizarre . . . this is just racism parading by some other name. They are going to be really grateful for the chance to work in a call center.” A Chinese banking executive also told us that an ethnic hierarchy worked in his bank because there was widespread resentment of a glass ceiling for local Chinese employees, as all the talent that had been fast tracked appeared to come from Western countries.
Within a major American bank, there was no strategy to shift jobs to India from New York or elsewhere within the group, but a discussion between senior staff in Mumbai and sponsors in New York led to a “handshake for a few operations jobs.” This was in 2002, when the company began engaging in a number of pilot projects in response to increasing cost pressures. The experiment with back-ofﬁce functions reﬂected the growth in offshore call centers and business process outsourcing (BPO). There was little point using staff in New York or London to process invoices or very basic data-entry jobs when it could be done in real time in India or Vietnam at a fraction of the price. Although the company was in the early stages of developing wealth management and investment banking within the country, there was rapid growth of the middle ofﬁce that includes research and analytical jobs for its New York and London ofﬁces.
However, she thought that colleagues in North America were “surprised at the extent and the kind of work they are doing—the speed at which we are delivering and the fact that some of these individuals are actually moving into front-line jobs and competing with them in their sphere as well.” Her senior colleague added that what was really different was the quality of the research they were generating for the front line to use—that is those who actually negotiate the deals with clients. “These are the areas that we ﬁnd that talent is delivering to an even higher standard than expected. We’re not doing those menial call center type jobs. It’s global work and that’s where we think we’ve been able to add a lot more value than what was initially expected and that will continue.” Quality: From Local Adaptation to Global Markets We have already seen how Western companies have played a key role in the transfer of knowledge in China and India. The opening up of new markets to more than 2 billion potential consumers led them to follow the market.
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Bernie Madoff, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, call centre, carried interest, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crowdsourcing, Emanuel Derman, housing crisis, I will remember that I didn’t make the world, and it doesn’t satisfy my equations, illegal immigration, Internet of things, late fees, mass incarceration, medical bankruptcy, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, new economy, obamacare, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, price discrimination, quantitative hedge fund, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, Rubik’s Cube, Sharpe ratio, statistical model, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, working poor
It’s very similar to a dating algorithm (and often, no doubt, has similarly spotty results). Big Data has also been used to study the productivity of call center workers. A few years ago, MIT researchers analyzed the behavior of call center employees for Bank of America to find out why some teams were more productive than others. They hung a so-called sociometric badge around each employee’s neck. The electronics in these badges tracked the employees’ location and also measured, every sixteen milliseconds, their tone of voice and gestures. It recorded when people were looking at each other and how much each person talked, listened, and interrupted. Four teams of call center employees—eighty people in total—wore these badges for six weeks. These employees’ jobs were highly regimented. Talking was discouraged because workers were supposed to spend as many of their minutes as possible on the phone, solving customers’ problems.
Talking was discouraged because workers were supposed to spend as many of their minutes as possible on the phone, solving customers’ problems. Coffee breaks were scheduled one by one. The researchers found, to their surprise, that the fastest and most efficient call center team was also the most social. These employees pooh-poohed the rules and gabbed much more than the others. And when all of the employees were encouraged to socialize more, call center productivity soared. But data studies that track employees’ behavior can also be used to cull a workforce. As the 2008 recession ripped through the economy, HR officials in the tech sector started to look at those Cataphora charts with a new purpose. They saw that some workers were represented as big dark circles, while others were smaller and dimmer. If they had to lay off workers, and most companies did, it made sense to start with the small and dim ones on the chart.
Replacing a worker earning $50,000 a year costs a company about $10,000, or 20 percent of that worker’s yearly pay, according to the Center for American Progress. Replacing a high-level employee can cost multiples of that—as much as two years of salary. Naturally, many hiring models attempt to calculate the likelihood that each job candidate will stick around. Evolv, Inc., now a part of Cornerstone OnDemand, helped Xerox scout out prospects for its calling center, which employs more than forty thousand people. The churn model took into account some of the metrics you might expect, including the average time people stuck around on previous jobs. But they also found some intriguing correlations. People the system classified as “creative types” tended to stay longer at the job, while those who scored high on “inquisitiveness” were more likely to set their questioning minds toward other opportunities.
The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss
Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, call centre, clean water, Donald Trump, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, fixed income, follow your passion, game design, global village, Iridium satellite, knowledge worker, late fees, Maui Hawaii, oil shock, paper trading, Parkinson's law, passive income, peer-to-peer, pre–internet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, remote working, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Steve Jobs, Vilfredo Pareto, wage slave, William of Occam
I am not a tollbooth through which anything needs to pass. I am more like a police officer on the side of the road who can step in if need be, and I use detailed reports from outsourcers to ensure the cogs are moving as intended. I check reports from fulfillment each Monday and monthly reports from the same the first of each month. The latter reports include orders received from the call center, which I can compare to the call center bills to gauge profit. Otherwise, I just check bank accounts online on the first and fifteenth of each month to look for odd deductions. If I find something, one e-mail will fix it, and if not, it’s back to kendo, painting, hiking, or whatever I happen to be doing at the time. Removing Yourself from the Equation: When and How The system is the solution. —AT&T The diagram should be your rough blueprint for designing a self-sustaining virtual architecture.
Call the end-to-end fulfillment houses that handle it all—from order status to returns and refunds. Interview them about costs and ask them for referrals to call centers and credit card processors they’ve collaborated with for file transfers and problem solving. Don’t assemble an architecture of strangers—there will be programming costs and mistakes, both of which are expensive. Set up an account with the credit card processor first, for which you will need your own merchant account. This is critical, as the fulfillment house can only handle refunds and declined cards for transactions they process themselves through an outsourced credit card processor. Optionally, set up an account with one of the call centers your new fulfillment center recommends. These will often have toll-free numbers you can use instead of purchasing your own.
CD/DVD Duplication, Printing, and Product Packaging AVC Corporation (www.avccorp.com) SF Video (www.sfvideo.com) Local Fulfillment (fewer than 20 units shipped per week) Mailing Fulfillment Service Association (www.mfsanet.org) End-to-End Fulfillment Companies (more than 20 units shipped per week, $500+ setup) Motivational Fulfillment (www.mfpsinc.com) The secret backend to campaigns from HBO, PBS, Comic Relief, Body by Jake, and more. Innotrac (www.innotrac.com) They are currently one of the largest DR marking companies. Moulton Fulfillment (www.moultonfulfillment.com) 200,000-square-foot facility with real-time online inventory reports. Call Centers (per-minute and/or per-sale fees) There are generally two classes of call centers: order takers and commissioned reps. Interview each provider you consider to understand the options and costs involved. The former is a good option if you give the product price in an advertisement (hard offer), are offering free information (lead generation), or don’t need trained salespeople who can overcome objections. In other words, your ad or website is pre-qualifying prospects.
The Connected Company by Dave Gray, Thomas Vander Wal
A Pattern Language, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, Atul Gawande, Berlin Wall, business process, call centre, Clayton Christensen, commoditize, complexity theory, creative destruction, David Heinemeier Hansson, en.wikipedia.org, factory automation, Googley, index card, industrial cluster, interchangeable parts, inventory management, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, loose coupling, market design, minimum viable product, more computing power than Apollo, profit maximization, Richard Florida, Ruby on Rails, self-driving car, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, software as a service, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tony Hsieh, Toyota Production System, Vanguard fund, web application, WikiLeaks, Zipcar
Customers will put up with this kind of treatment only for so long. Eventually, they will find another company that treats them better. That would be great for you though, right? Because the cost of serving someone else’s customer is zero! Yay for the cost savings team! Then, when your customer tells all her friends about her experience, you will lose more customers. Your call center costs will continue to go down. At some point, when the last customer has left, you can eliminate your call center altogether. Total cost victory achieved. Cost and Quality are Not Mutually Exclusive Once you’re making a profit at something, and you feel like you’ve got as many people buying it as are happy to buy it (market saturation), the next move is to try and to cut costs. Many companies assume that cutting costs will lead to lower quality.
The more you try to standardize their service requests, the more you will anger them. Not a good recipe for customer satisfaction or long-term business growth. The real world throws a lot of variety at you. It’s bound to throw things at you that you didn’t prepare for, plan for, or anticipate. In most cases, service providers must reorganize to absorb variety rather than reduce or contain it. Online shoe store Zappos’ call centers are designed to absorb variety. Most call centers look at customer support as a cost. After all, if you have already been paid for a product and delivered it, then you already have your money and any additional effort on your part will only cost you money, right? Zappos looks at the equation differently. Zappos knows that a customer call probably represents a very tiny fraction of their total interactions with the company.
Ron Johnson, who joined Apple from Target to launch Apple Retail, started asking people about the best service experiences they had ever had. The majority of people spoke of hotel experiences. So Apple patterned its stores on the hotel experience, including a bar—the Genius Bar. “Instead of dispensing alcohol, we dispense advice,” says Johnson. While most companies are moving customer support to overseas call centers, Apple is bringing real face-to-face support to your neighborhood. In the early stages, Apple recruited managers from the hospitality industry, most notably from service leader Ritz-Carlton. Each manager spent a week in Cupertino for specialized training. Managers were steeped in the Apple philosophy of service. Salespeople did not work on commission, and were encouraged to focus on connecting with customers, getting to know them and their needs, and helping them make good decisions.
Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age by Steven Johnson
Airbus A320, airport security, algorithmic trading, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, dark matter, Dava Sobel, David Brooks, Donald Davies, future of journalism, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, HyperCard, Jane Jacobs, John Gruber, John Harrison: Longitude, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, lone genius, Mark Zuckerberg, mega-rich, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, Occupy movement, packet switching, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, pre–internet, RAND corporation, risk tolerance, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social graph, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Tim Cook: Apple, urban planning, US Airways Flight 1549, WikiLeaks, William Langewiesche, working poor, X Prize, your tax dollars at work
Fenugreek is a versatile spice used in many cuisines around the world, but in American supermarkets it is most commonly found in the products on one shelf—the one where they sell cheap maple syrup substitutes. — Fourteen months after the maple syrup mystery was solved, Mayor Michael Bloomberg paid a visit to the 311 call center, which is housed in a city building in the warrens of downtown Manhattan, just a few blocks east of Ground Zero. With its high ceilings, playful Flor tiles underfoot, and dual LCD monitors on every desk, the main call center room feels a lot like a Web start-up, until one registers the steady murmur of the fifty “customer service professionals” working the phones. Mounted on one wall is an oversize dashboard, with chunky blue, red, and green LED pixels tallying the day’s inflows by city department: calls waiting, maximum waiting time, agents on call—and the most important statistic of all, service level, which reports the percentage of calls that are answered within thirty seconds.
But government programs, like 311, that draw on peer-network structures don’t suffer from the same constraints. Done well, they can even outperform the market. Several years after the launch of 311, New York City commissioned a third-party firm to compare the customer satisfaction of 311 users with that of users of other call centers in both the public and private sectors. The 311 customer satisfaction ratings came out on top, barely edging out hotel and retail experiences but beating other government call centers, such as the IRS’s, by a mile. (At the very bottom of the list, not surprisingly, cable companies.) Extracting information from, or reporting problems to, a government agency is traditionally a recipe for psychic pain, because bureaucracies are so incompetent at addressing individual needs. Yet 311 has managed to break from that ignoble tradition—precisely because it is a network, not a bureaucracy.
Launched in March 2003, 311 now fields on average more than 50,000 calls a day, offering callers information about more than 3,000 services: school closings, recycling rules, homeless shelters, park events, pothole repairs. The service has translators on call to support 180 different languages. Since its launch, 311 operators in New York have fielded more than 100 million calls. Having those 311 call centers in place offered the city a direct medium with which to communicate with citizens worried about the strange breakfast smells saturating their neighborhoods. During “maple syrup events,” as city officials came to call them, 311 operators were instructed to explain to callers that the smell was harmless, and that they should go about their business as usual. But the true genius of 311 lies in the fact that it is a two-way system: 311 callers get the information they need from the service, but the city also learns from the information the callers contribute.
3D printing, Airbnb, Atul Gawande, barriers to entry, big-box store, business process, call centre, carbon footprint, citizen journalism, commoditize, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, Elon Musk, Firefox, glass ceiling, greed is good, housing crisis, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, jimmy wales, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, means of production, new economy, pattern recognition, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, QR code, Ray Oldenburg, remote working, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, selection bias, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, Tony Hsieh, too big to fail, underbanked, women in the workforce, young professional, Zipcar
So many companies yearn for more innovation and creativity, but they don’t take the very first critical step—thinking of their employees as artists. Purpose-Powered The University of Pennsylvania’s Adam Grant did a very simple but powerful experiment with university fundraising call center employees. He broke them into three random groups. The first was read stories from previous call center employees about how the job had helped them develop their sales skills. The second set was told stories about how alumni had benefited from the donations raised by the call center. The third, the control group, had unrelated stories read to them. He replicated the study five times and found the same results. Those who were read the second story, the one about purpose, more than doubled the dollars raised. By sharing a five-minute story, he doubled their impact.
These jobs are viewed by others as onerous and odious by the employees or others.4 People working in dirty jobs are seen to have a hard time interacting with others, given the stigma of their work. Caring for others means engaging with others, and for many doing dirty work, they are expected to be nearly invisible within an organization. This doesn’t just apply to sanitation workers or morticians. It also applies to roles like working in a call center. I met with a member of the management team of a major telecommunications company, who openly talked about how the company views their call center employees as “sub-human.” In this case, the researchers were interested in the maintenance staff at a hospital, the folks who clean up after the sick, dying, and recently deceased. It is a dirty job, but in the context of a high-caring enterprise. How did these professionals find purpose in their work, and did they find themselves involved in the culture of caring for the hospital, or did they feel like invisible outsiders?
He would be challenged and have a strong community that would push him to do amazing work. After joining Google, Arthur found the reality to be very different. Like all companies with thousands of employees, Google struggled to fully enable their youngest hires with meaningful opportunities and roles within the organization. Though Arthur was sitting in the heart of Google in Silicon Valley, he could have just as easily been in a call center for a utility company in any anonymous office park. The job consisted of 30 hours per week of mainly rote roles. The remaining hours were spent in meetings talking about the rote tasks; there was little creative freedom or clear purpose to the work. The only difference was that his peers were also over-achievers and brilliant individuals who shared his vision of Google when they had started. Being highly social, Arthur used his network to connect to colleagues in the YouTube division and started volunteering for them.
3D printing, algorithmic trading, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, augmented reality, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, call centre, Cass Sunstein, Clayton Christensen, commoditize, computer age, death of newspapers, deferred acceptance, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Erik Brynjolfsson, Filter Bubble, Flash crash, Florence Nightingale: pie chart, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Google Earth, Google Glasses, High speed trading, Internet Archive, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Kodak vs Instagram, lifelogging, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, pattern recognition, price discrimination, recommendation engine, Richard Thaler, Rosa Parks, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Slavoj Žižek, social graph, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, upwardly mobile, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y Combinator
Demassification would, Toffler argued, be “the deepest social upheaval and creative restructuring of all time,” responsible for the “building [of] a remarkable new civilization from the ground up.” And it was all built on personalization. Please Hold to Be Connected to Our Algorithm It is well known that not every call-center agent is equipped to handle every type of call that comes in. The larger the company, the less likely it is that any one person will be able to deal with every single inquiry, which is the reason customers are typically routed to different departments in which agents are trained to have different skills and knowledge bases. A straightforward example might be the global company whose call centers regularly receive calls in several different languages. Both callers and agents may speak one or more of several possible languages, but not necessarily all of them. When the French-speaking customer phones up, they may be advised to press “1” on their keypad, while the English-speaking customer might be instructed to press “2.”
When the French-speaking customer phones up, they may be advised to press “1” on their keypad, while the English-speaking customer might be instructed to press “2.” They are then routed through to the person best suited to deal with their call. But what if—instead of simply redirecting customers to different call-center agents based upon language or specialist knowledge—an algorithm could be used to determine particular qualities of the person calling in: based upon speech patterns, the particular words they used, and even details as seemingly trivial as whether they said “um” or “err”—and then utilize these insights to put them through to the agent best suited for dealing with their emotional needs? Chicago’s Mattersight Corporation does exactly that. Based on custom algorithms, Mattersight calls its business “predictive behavioral routing.”
These people operate in vivid internal worlds and are likely to spot patterns where others cannot. 1 in 10 people Although everyone has all six personality types to a greater or lesser degree, people will respond best to individuals who reflect their own primary personality type. If people’s communication needs are not met by being given the kind of positive “feedback” they require (a feelings-oriented person being asked cold hard facts, for example) they go into distress, which can be diffused only if the person on the other end of the conversation is able to adequately pick up on the warning signals and respond appropriately. In a call-center environment this knowledge results in an extraordinary qualitative change, according to Mattersight. A person patched through to an individual with a similar personality type to their own will have an average conversation length of five minutes, with a 92 percent problem-resolution rate. A caller paired up to a conflicting personality type, on the other hand, will see their call length double to ten minutes—while the problem-resolution rate tumbles to 47 percent.
Methland by Nick Reding
And so it seemed only fitting that the key to Murphy’s economic stimulus plan was the Industrial Park, kitty-corner from the Sportsmen’s, where in March 2006 a gridded road system already cut the acreage into blocks. Among the weeds sprouting up now that the farmer who once leased those 250 acres was no longer spraying herbicide, a sign read “Oelwein Industrial Park—Come Grow with Us!” Murphy said the city had been courting a call center to lease the space, but it had two competitors: a similar-sized town in Nebraska and a town near Mumbai, India. If the call center prospect fell through, there were bound to be other options, said Murphy. It just wasn’t entirely clear what they might be, or when they’d make themselves available. Meanwhile, things in Oelwein were growing more desperate every month. On March 17, 2006, Tyson had closed the doors of what had, a long time ago, been the old Iowa Ham plant, costing the town another hundred jobs.
Some real treatment alternatives might help Oelwein nip drug abuse in the bud, rather than simply treating its symptoms—even as those symptoms gained ineluctable momentum. For now, though, that was all a pipe dream. There was no excess revenue for anything, never mind treatment. Murphy’s task was to raise the town from the ashes. He had to build a foundation of decent economic growth, and he had to do it ASAP. Businesses like the call center could afford to be choosy—every hard-luck town in the United States was courting them. In fact, Murphy believed that most companies were looking for a certain modicum of poverty as a fail-safe against union organizing. If people were desperate, they’d concede this essential ground to the company. Murphy understood the game. As he once put it to me in an e-mail, he was “enough of a student of economic trends in the last two decades to understand [he had to] play on the edges for wage and benefit rates.”
It was an almost impossible situation in which Murphy found himself. Compared with this, his past battles as a liberal pro-lifer had been a cakewalk. During 2004 and 2005, Murphy had done everything possible to run the small-lab meth business out of town as a means of preparing Oelwein to rebuild. This was not just to compete with the towns in India or Nebraska that might lure the likes of the call center. It was to compete with Oelwein’s more immediate neighbors. Nathan had told me, along with several other people, that DHS workers in nearby Buchanan County—home of pretty, prosperous little Independence—had for years been recommending that their worst cases move to Fayette County, and particularly to Oelwein, where taxes were low and the rental market was burgeoning. A kind of economic cannibalism had set in following the farm crisis, the ravages of population loss, and the onset of the meth epidemic.
Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age by Virginia Eubanks
affirmative action, Berlin Wall, call centre, cognitive dissonance, creative destruction, desegregation, Fall of the Berlin Wall, future of work, game design, global village, index card, informal economy, invisible hand, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, labour market flexibility, low-wage service sector, microcredit, new economy, post-industrial society, race to the bottom, rent control, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, South of Market, San Francisco, telemarketer, Thomas L Friedman, trickle-down economics, union organizing, urban planning, web application, white flight, women in the workforce, working poor
The low wages, combined with the insecurity of the employment relationship in the high-tech sector and the physical and mental strains of the jobs, likely inﬂuence the extreme volatility and fast employee turnover in low-wage high-tech employment. For example, Cathy Reynolds was offered a promotion to supervisor after four months at an insurance claims company because of her seniority; only three other people had been at the company longer. Call center and data entry work are sites of intense technologicallymediated surveillance, as the experience of women in the YWCA community amply illustrated. Work processes in call center and data entry Drowning in the Sink-or-Swim Economy 73 occupations are highly visible. Efﬁciency is measured and displayed constantly: employers track the number of bids entered or calls answered at the bottom of employees’ computer screens, and check the numbers several times a day to monitor their progress.
Some women certainly responded in ways digital divide scholars and policymakers would have predicted: they spoke at length about the inequitable distribution of technology, declared their desire for better access, and described their day-to-day use of IT to ﬁnd important information and support their social networks. But the majority of women I interviewed in the YWCA community talked about a different kind of experience with technology altogether, an experience marked not by technology lack or deﬁciency but by technological ubiquity. They described their extensive use of computers in the lowwage workforce—about half of the women I interviewed had been data entry or call center workers. Others talked about encountering computers in the social service system. They described welfare caseworkers who blocked eye contact by hiding behind a computer terminal. They described 10 Chapter 1 their feelings of hopelessness and frustration when caseworkers couldn’t ﬁnd their information in “the system,” a feeling intensiﬁed by the computer’s apparent power to decide their family’s fate.
Women in the YWCA community have a more complicated relationship to IT. In interviews and public events, many have said that they think “computers are the future,” and have conceded that technological skills are something they should have to remain competitive in the job market. But they also directly experience the more exploitative face of IT as workers in low-wage, high-tech occupations such as data entry and call centers, as clients of increasingly computerized government services, and as citizens surveyed by technologies in public institutions and spaces. It is not so much that they lack access to technology but that their everyday experiences with it can be invasive, intrusive, and extractive. As I began this research, my overreliance on access-based models of high-tech equity and my privileged class and racial position led me to overlook—and even obscure—poor and working-class women’s extensive interaction with information systems.
Keeping Up With the Quants: Your Guide to Understanding and Using Analytics by Thomas H. Davenport, Jinho Kim
Black-Scholes formula, business intelligence, business process, call centre, computer age, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, en.wikipedia.org, feminist movement, Florence Nightingale: pie chart, forensic accounting, global supply chain, Hans Rosling, hypertext link, invention of the telescope, inventory management, Jeff Bezos, margin call, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Myron Scholes, Netflix Prize, p-value, performance metric, publish or perish, quantitative hedge fund, random walk, Renaissance Technologies, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, six sigma, Skype, statistical model, supply-chain management, text mining, the scientific method
It may even inspire you to become a quant! An Informed Consumer of Analytics There are many ways that managers, working closely with the quantitative analysts in their organizations, can use analytics to enhance their decisions. Let’s take a recent decision that Jennifer Joy made at Cigna—a leading health service company. Joy is vice president of Clinical Operations, and she runs a large call center for the company. The call center works with Cigna’s customers to improve their health and wellness, particularly if they have a chronic condition, such as diabetes or heart disease, that requires ongoing treatment. Jen is a nurse by background, not an analyst. But she has an MBA and is a believer in the importance of analytical thinking. Her example shows how defining a problem and knowing the right questions to ask—two key aspects of thinking analytically—helped her save money for the company and her customers.
Cousins pointed out, “It took some courage on her part to investigate whether these interventions—the main purpose of Jen’s organization—were really working, but she didn’t hesitate to find out the truth.” The results suggested that certain call center interventions weren’t as helpful as anticipated for many types of diseases, but were more effective for others that they didn’t anticipate. For the former group, Joy took action and decided to shorten the length of the calls for customers with certain diseases until it could be determined whether they were helpful at all. For the latter group, her team is expanding and redeploying call center staff to more value-adding activity with customers. She’s working with Cousins’s group on other analytics projects, including controlled experiments that test different coaching approaches, such as engaging more deeply with a customer’s doctor.
Expedia and other online bookers’ rates were typically much lower than booking directly with a hotel, and customers were willing to tolerate change/cancel fees. However, by 2009 it had become apparent that the fees had become a liability. Expedia’s rates were closer to those of the hotels’ own rates, so the primary appeal of Expedia had become convenience—and change/cancel fees were not convenient. Analysts looked at customer satisfaction rates, and they were particularly low for customers who had to pay the fees. Expedia’s call center representatives were authorized to waive the change/cancel fees for only one reason: a death in the customer’s family. A look at the number of waivers showed double-digit growth for the past three years. Either there was a death epidemic, or customers had figured out they could get their money back this way. Expedia executives realized the market had changed, but change/ cancel fees represented a substantial source of revenue.
accounting loophole / creative accounting, affirmative action, bank run, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, bonus culture, Branko Milanovic, BRICs, call centre, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, conceptual framework, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, deindustrialization, demographic transition, Diane Coyle, disintermediation, Edward Glaeser, endogenous growth, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Financial Instability Hypothesis, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, happiness index / gross national happiness, Hyman Minsky, If something cannot go on forever, it will stop - Herbert Stein's Law, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, industrial cluster, information asymmetry, intangible asset, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, light touch regulation, low skilled workers, market bubble, market design, market fundamentalism, megacity, Network effects, new economy, night-watchman state, Northern Rock, oil shock, Pareto efficiency, principal–agent problem, profit motive, purchasing power parity, railway mania, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, Steven Pinker, The Design of Experiments, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, The Market for Lemons, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Spirit Level, transaction costs, transfer pricing, tulip mania, ultimatum game, University of East Anglia, web application, web of trust, winner-take-all economy, World Values Survey, zero-sum game
Now, as then, there are two main possible explanations for the development of greater inequality compared with the previous economic epoch. One is globalization, in effect bringing a large new source of cheap labor into the domestic economy; either through cheap imports or the offshoring of production, domestic workers have to compete with workers elsewhere who work for much lower wages (although they are also less productive). This could explain downward pressure on blue-collar wages or the low pay in basic services such as call centers. Figure 9. The capitalist pyramid. The other potential explanation is the adoption of new technologies requiring skills that were initially in short supply. Companies that use computers and other new technologies need people with greater cognitive abilities—computers can do the easy, repetitive work, so the humans need to do the more challenging and creative work. This is great news in the sense that a lot of dull jobs have gone and work for many has become more interesting, but it has substantially reduced the demand for workers with only basic qualifications, and swaths of formerly well-paid shop floor jobs have vanished.
Alan Blinder showed that offshorable jobs in the United States had suffered an estimated 13 percent wage penalty as of 2004.31 Another study found a 1 percentage point increase in the low-wage import share is associated with a 2.8 percent decline in blue-collar wages.32 On balance, however, the technical change explanation emerges as the most important driver of increasing income inequality.33 This is not the popular perception. When a factory or call center closes in the United States and reopens in China or India, or when cheap clothing imports put domestic manufacturers out of business because they can’t compete, or when immigrant workers seem to bid down wages for low-skill jobs in the neighborhood, it seems pretty obvious that globalization is the culprit for the fact that low-income families have been faring poorly in recent decades. There is indeed evidence that globalization has played a part in the inequality trends described here.
For example, rather than being a center for auto manufacture, like the Detroit of the past, Hungary has become a specialist producer of auto engines, making one in every twenty-five engines in the world, while Poland specializes in transmissions, and so on. It is not just manufacturing that has globalized. Professional services are global too. Bankers, lawyers, consultants, and the like are likely to be widely traveled with projects or colleagues or postings overseas. Many more routine services, such as call centers and medical imaging offices, have also begun to ship tasks to developing countries with cheaper labor, although this outsourcing is much smaller in scale than the impression given by the media. In both cases, manufacturing and services, globalization and the adoption of new technologies have gone hand in hand. Part of the technology-driven restructuring of the economy, not only bringing about new goods and services but turning value increasingly intangible and increasing specialization, involves changing the geography of economic activity.
Why We Work by Barry Schwartz
Atul Gawande, call centre, deskilling, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, if you build it, they will come, invisible hand, job satisfaction, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Silicon Valley, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Toyota Production System
Taylor, in his book The Principles of Scientific Management, laid out in microscopic detail the best ways to divide production into individual jobs, so that little skill or attention was required, and the best way to arrange pay, so that maximum effort would be produced. Factories like this have mostly left American shores, but one sees the same pattern played out in modern versions of the factory, like call centers and order-fulfillment centers. Workers in both environments are micromanaged. In call centers, they’re given detailed scripts to follow (which is necessary, since they are often located in a different country, thousands of miles away, have trouble with the language and, beyond the scripts, know almost nothing of the products or services about which they are taking calls.) Is this an efficient way for human beings to spend their time? That depends on how you do the accounting.
Making False Ideas True You might agree with Smith. You might believe that for most people, by their very natures, work is about pay and nothing more. Only the “elite” want challenge, meaning, and engagement, and can expect it from their work. Aside from being more than a little arrogant, this view is incorrect. Many people who do what we think of as mundane jobs—janitors, factory workers, call-center employees—care about more than the wage. And plenty of high-flying professionals work just for the money. What people come to seek in work largely depends on what their work makes available. And the conditions of human labor created by the industrial revolution, and perpetuated thanks in part to theories from the social sciences, have systematically deprived people of fulfillment from their work.
The Great Surge: The Ascent of the Developing World by Steven Radelet
Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Asian financial crisis, bank run, Berlin Wall, Branko Milanovic, business climate, business process, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, colonial rule, creative destruction, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Doha Development Round, Erik Brynjolfsson, European colonialism, F. W. de Klerk, failed state, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, income inequality, income per capita, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of the steam engine, James Watt: steam engine, John Snow's cholera map, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, land reform, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, off grid, oil shock, out of africa, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, randomized controlled trial, Robert Gordon, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Simon Kuznets, South China Sea, special economic zone, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade route, women in the workforce, working poor
In many countries, services are the fastest-growing part of the economy, reflecting rapid growth in cell phone services, hotels, restaurants, construction, call centers, financial services, and other activities. Across all developing countries, output in services has been increasing by more than 5 percent per year since 1995, so that the total value of services (in real terms after accounting for inflation) has increased 150 percent. In some countries, there is a particularly important shift toward more modern services such as software development, technical services (engineering and architecture), outsourced business processes (from insurance claims to transcribing medical records), and call centers, all of which create jobs and increase skills over time. Advances in technology and much deeper global connectivity have allowed developing countries to provide services to other countries as never before: developing countries accounted for 14 percent of global service exports in 1990; two decades later, the share had jumped to 21 percent.
Similarly, Jenny Aker of Tufts University found that mobile phones reduced price variations in grain markets in Niger by a minimum of 6.4 percent, and even more in remote markets, which contributed to both lower consumer prices and higher profits for farmers.31 And, of course, alongside mobile phones, increased internet connectivity has created new economic opportunities and transformed lives across developing countries—at least where it has reached so far. Call centers in the Philippines provide travel services, technical support to computer users, customer care services, and financial services to consumers around the world. There are now more than a thousand call centers in the Philippines, creating several hundred thousand jobs for semiskilled workers that didn’t exist before. Data entry firms have sprouted up in Kenya, Ghana, Bangladesh, India, Colombia, Brazil, and dozens of other countries. The Song-Taaba Yalgré women’s cooperative in Burkina Faso uses the internet to connect its shea butter producers with local and regional export markets.
Advances in technology and much deeper global connectivity have allowed developing countries to provide services to other countries as never before: developing countries accounted for 14 percent of global service exports in 1990; two decades later, the share had jumped to 21 percent. Indian software companies are the most famous example, but they are not alone. Sri Lankan engineers are working with firms around the world, South African banks are spreading across the rest of the continent, call centers in Belize are answering billing questions for American cell phone users, companies in the Philippines are transcribing insurance and medical records, and Kenyan accounting firms are providing services to their neighbors. Manufacturing and industry have expanded just as fast, with growth exceeding 5 percent per year. More and more countries are producing light manufactures for world markets, and processing more of their own raw materials for local and international consumption.
Final Jeopardy: Man vs. Machine and the Quest to Know Everything by Stephen Baker
23andMe, AI winter, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, business process, call centre, clean water, commoditize, computer age, Frank Gehry, information retrieval, Iridium satellite, Isaac Newton, job automation, pattern recognition, Ray Kurzweil, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, statistical model, theory of mind, thinkpad, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!
Could the consultants bundle this technology into their offerings? Would this type of machine soon be popping up in offices and answering customers’ questions on the phone? Ferrucci envisioned a Jeopardy machine spawning a host of specialized know-it-alls. With the right training, a technology that could understand everyday language and retrieve answers in a matter of seconds could fit just about anywhere. Its first job would likely be in call centers. It could answer tax questions, provide details about bus schedules, ask about the symptoms of a laptop on the fritz and walk a customer through a software update. That stuff was obvious. But there were plenty of other jobs. Consider publicly traded companies, Ferrucci said. They had to comply with a dizzying assortment of rules and regulations, everything from leaks of inside information in e-mails to the timely disclosure of earnings surprises or product failures to regulators and investors.
Chu-Carroll had black bangs down to her eyes and often wore sweatshirts and jeans. Like practically everyone else on the team, she had a doctorate in computer science, hers from the University of Delaware. She had worked for five years at Lucent Technology’s Bell Labs, in New Jersey. There she taught machines how to participate in a dialogue and how to modulate their voices to communicate different signals. (Lucent was developing automated call centers.) When Chu-Carroll came to IBM in 2001, joining her husband, Mark, she plunged into building Q-A technologies. (Mark later left for Google.) In mid-2007, the nascent Jeopardy system wasn’t really a machine at all. Fragments of a Jeopardy player existed as a collection of software programs, some of them hand-me-downs from the recent bake-off, all of them easy to load onto a laptop. As engineers pieced together an architecture for the new system, Chu-Carroll pondered a fundamental question: How knowledgeable did this computer really need to be?
This gold mine is doubling in size every year. Of all the data stored in the world’s computers and coursing through its networks, the vast majority is unstructured. Hewlett Packard, for example, the biggest computer company on earth, gets a hundred fifty million Web visits a month. That’s nearly thirty-five hundred customers and prospects per minute. Those visits produce data. So do notes from the company’s call centers, online chat rooms, blog entries, warranty claims, and user reviews. “Ninety percent of our data is unstructured,” said Prasanna Dhore, HP’s vice president of customer intelligence. “There’s always a gap between what you want to know about the customer and what is knowable.” Analysis of the pile of data helps reduce that gap, bringing the customer into sharper focus. The potential value of this information is immense.
That Used to Be Us by Thomas L. Friedman, Michael Mandelbaum
3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, Amazon Web Services, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Andy Kessler, Ayatollah Khomeini, bank run, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, business process, call centre, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, centre right, Climatic Research Unit, cloud computing, collective bargaining, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, delayed gratification, energy security, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fear of failure, full employment, Google Earth, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), job automation, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, Lean Startup, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, mass immigration, more computing power than Apollo, Network effects, obamacare, oil shock, pension reform, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Saturday Night Live, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, University of East Anglia, WikiLeaks
“A lot of innovation now happens on the shop floor,” said Hewlett-Packard’s CEO, Léo Apotheker. Indeed, if you open a factory, and are doing things right, “it will be more productive a year later because the workers themselves on the factory floor are critical thinkers and can improve processes along the way,” said Byron Auguste, the McKinsey director. In any factory or call center, he noted, “there is often dramatic variation in productivity in different parts of the system. If you have continuous learners on the shop floor or in the call center, there is a constant opportunity to learn and spread the word, and then everyone improves. If you are doing that in every node of your production, design, and aftersales service, you will have a system that delivers three percent productivity growth every year and is not dependent on new inventions coming out of Carnegie Mellon University or Silicon Valley.”
It all happened so fast, but it is clear that sometime around the year 2000 many people in many places realized that they were engaging with people with whom they had never engaged before—whether it was Tom’s mom and her new online bridge partner in Siberia or the local gas station owner discovering through the Internet a new supplier of cheaper tires in Panama. At the same time, these same people in these same places discovered that they were being touched by people who had never touched them before—whether it was a young Indian voice on the phone from a Bangalore call center trying to sign them up for a new Visa card or a young Chinese student in Shanghai who had just taken the place they had hoped to have at Harvard. What they were all feeling was that the world is flat (the title of Tom’s 2005 book)—meaning that more people could suddenly compete, connect, and collaborate with more other people from more different places for less money with greater ease than ever before in the history of humankind.
In today’s hyper-connected marketplace, to be a leading company, now a company has to be a company of leaders—every individual has to contribute significant value and impact.” Herewith, the new help-wanted section. White-Collar Indian In February 2004 Tom went to Bangalore, India, to make a documentary program on outsourcing for the New York Times–Discovery Channel. Part of the documentary was filmed at the outsourcing company 24/7 Customer and its call center, manned by hundreds of Indians doing what were then relatively low-wage white-collar service jobs via long-distance phone lines. Late at night—daytime in America—the room was a cacophony of voices, with young Indian men and women trying to fix someone’s Dell computer or straighten out a credit card account or sell a new phone contract. It was a cross between a coed college dormitory and a phone bank raising money for the local public TV station.
Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else by Chrystia Freeland
activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, assortative mating, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Basel III, battle of ideas, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, business climate, call centre, carried interest, Cass Sunstein, Clayton Christensen, collapse of Lehman Brothers, commoditize, conceptual framework, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, Deng Xiaoping, don't be evil, double helix, energy security, estate planning, experimental subject, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Gini coefficient, global village, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gordon Gekko, Guggenheim Bilbao, haute couture, high net worth, income inequality, invention of the steam engine, job automation, John Markoff, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, liberation theology, light touch regulation, linear programming, London Whale, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, Mikhail Gorbachev, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, NetJets, new economy, Occupy movement, open economy, Peter Thiel, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, postindustrial economy, Potemkin village, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, Rod Stewart played at Stephen Schwarzman birthday party, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, short selling, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Kuznets, Solar eclipse in 1919, sovereign wealth fund, stem cell, Steve Jobs, the new new thing, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tony Hsieh, too big to fail, trade route, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, wage slave, Washington Consensus, winner-take-all economy, zero-sum game
When we meet for lunch at a steakhouse a five-minute drive away (this is one of those neighborhoods without sidewalks), Hsieh tells me he moved Zappos from San Francisco to Las Vegas because the city has “a call center population” and a twenty-four/seven culture. That’s a nice way of saying this is a place where you can find the lower-skilled, lower-paid workers you need for customer service. Within that universe, though, Zappos really does deliver on its promise of being “free from boring work environments, go-nowhere jobs, and typical corporate America!” Our tour guide—he proudly informs us that you need to know two hundred things about Zappos to be a certified host—says, “I was working at a call center that was kind of the opposite of this—kind of a sweatshop” before joining two and a half years earlier. A year and a half earlier he’d recruited his better half: “I was having great days and my wife wasn’t, so I got her a job here.”
(Meanwhile, DLA Piper, one of the law firms with a nine-to-one differential between its star partners and the rest, in 2011 poached Jamie Wareham, a high-profile Washington lawyer, partly thanks to compensation of reportedly about $5 million in his first year.) Globalization is having a similar, two-speed impact on lawyers. For the superstars, it is one of the forces creating richer clients, bigger cases, and fatter fees. But at the bottom, cheaper emerging market lawyers are undercutting the salaries of Western lawyers, just as outsourcing has brought down costs—and wages—in manufacturing and more routine services like call center work. One example is Pangea3, an Indian legal process outsourcing firm, which recently opened offices in the United States. Employing hundreds of lawyers who work around-the-clock shifts, Pangea3 does basic, repetitive legal work like drafting contracts and reviewing documents. Its clients have included blue-chip companies like American Express, GE, Sony, Yahoo!, and Netflix. This is “Manhattan work at Mumbai prices,” as the American Bar Association Journal put it in a recent headline.
The Mac 400 is a cheaper, cruder, and lighter version of its American parent—it weighs less than three pounds, rather than fifteen; sells for around $800 (already barely half of the $1,500 it cost when it hit the market), rather than $10,000; and costs $500,000 to develop, rather than $5.4 million. Eight of the nine engineers who created it were based at GE’s Bangalore research lab. Selling Western technology and brands into emerging markets is an old story. So is selling cheap emerging market labor—in the form of manufactured goods, electronics, or commodity white-collar services like call centers—into developed markets. The Mac 400 is an example of the next stage—emerging market engineers, employed by a Western company, creating a product inspired by a Western prototype, and redesigned for emerging market consumers. The world’s smartest megacorporations—GE, Google, Goldman Sachs—are finding ways to profit from the great economic shift of our times. The biggest winners, though, are individuals, not institutions; globalization and technology have dramatically lowered barriers to entry, and the beneficiaries are the people smart enough and lucky enough to make it on their own.
assortative mating, Atul Gawande, Bernie Madoff, call centre, cognitive dissonance, David Brooks, delayed gratification, Edward Glaeser, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, estate planning, facts on the ground, game design, happiness index / gross national happiness, indoor plumbing, invisible hand, Mark Zuckerberg, medical residency, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, neurotypical, Occupy movement, old-boy network, place-making, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Waldo Emerson, randomized controlled trial, Ray Oldenburg, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steven Pinker, The Great Good Place, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Tony Hsieh, urban planning, Yogi Berra
The MIT research team has tried out their wearable sensors on all sorts of employees, including those who work in banks, on farms, in hospitals, and at call centers. They’ve found that the happy buzz of workplace chatter predicts productivity everywhere they’ve looked.54 Of all the worksites, their call-center study piqued my curiosity most because working in one can be such a soul-deadening job. Employees face rigid schedules and scripts, social isolation, and an emphasis on quantity over quality, and as a rule, they can’t rise much in the organization. In terms of tedium and lack of control, it’s the twenty-first century’s equivalent of a coal mine. Yet when the badges were handed out to more than three thousand agents at a bank’s call center, unexpected patterns emerged. “In the first phase, we just measured what happened. And we found that the more people talked to other people on their team—who were mostly people they were sitting with—the more productive they were,” Waber told me.
Less than six months later English’s blog was getting more than a million visitors a month, many contributing their own code-breaking secrets.43 English had unwittingly launched a movement. “I’ve been a programmer for more than 20 years. I’m not anticapitalist. I’m on my fifth start-up. But I am anti-arrogance. Why do the executives who run these call centers think they can decide when I deserve to speak to a human being and when I don’t?” English had channeled a torrent of frustration with automated customer service. If my experience is typical, many companies—especially those in telecommunications, insurance, health care, and travel—are forgoing human contact in order to cut costs, deploying either robots or foreign call centers whose agents know nothing about the business and are paid per call (so they try to make it fast by passing you off to someone else). An attempt to correct a recursive cellphone billing error, for example, required first keying in my ten-digit number and then more than a dozen voice prompts from Emily, the robot customer service representative of my wireless company, which asked me to say my name over and over and over again, enunciating more clearly into the receiver to “confirm my voiceprint.”
They have a friend who said, ‘Okay, this is how I dealt with this problem. I figured out how to solve it,’ or ‘This is how to pitch this new product,’ ” he continued. Even he seemed amazed that something as simple as changing the break schedule could have such a dramatic effect. As a result of their experiment, the bank’s call-center manager shifted to coordinated coffee breaks—and the plan worked. Recognizing that employees, like the bank clients they serve, are driven to make genuine human connections has led to vastly better outcomes. Coordinated breaks at all ten of the bank’s call centers (involving twenty-five thousand employees) improved the weak teams’ performance by more than 20 percent, increased performance overall by 8 percent, and boosted employee satisfaction by more than 10 percent, Sandy Pentland reports. Based on these boosts in performance, the bank is predicting $15 million in increased profit.55 “We have the data to show that small changes can have very large effects,” Waber told me.
3D printing, additive manufacturing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, AI winter, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, artificial general intelligence, assortative mating, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bernie Madoff, Bill Joy: nanobots, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Chris Urmson, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, computer age, creative destruction, debt deflation, deskilling, diversified portfolio, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, financial innovation, Flash crash, Fractional reserve banking, Freestyle chess, full employment, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gunnar Myrdal, High speed trading, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, informal economy, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, labour mobility, liquidity trap, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, Lyft, manufacturing employment, Marc Andreessen, McJob, moral hazard, Narrative Science, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, optical character recognition, passive income, Paul Samuelson, performance metric, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post scarcity, precision agriculture, price mechanism, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, rent-seeking, reshoring, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, single-payer health, software is eating the world, sovereign wealth fund, speech recognition, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, strong AI, Stuxnet, technological singularity, telepresence, telepresence robot, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Future of Employment, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, union organizing, Vernor Vinge, very high income, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce
Jobs are moved to low-wage locations instantly and at minimal cost. If peripheral jobs are created, it is much more likely to be in the country where the workers reside. I would argue that “free trade” is the wrong lens through which to view offshoring. Instead, it is much more akin to virtual immigration. Suppose, for example, that a huge customer service call center were to be built south of San Diego, just across the border from Mexico. Thousands of low-wage workers are issued “day worker” passes and are bused across the border to staff the call center every morning. At the end of the workday, the buses travel in the opposite direction. What is the difference between this situation (which would certainly be viewed as an immigration issue) and moving the jobs electronically to India or the Philippines? In both cases, workers are, in effect, “entering” the United States to offer services that are clearly directed at the domestic US economy.
As he says, “We have so far barely seen the tip of the offshoring iceberg, the eventual dimensions of which may be staggering.”49 Virtually any occupation that primarily involves manipulating information and is not in some way anchored locally—for example, with a requirement for face-to-face interaction with customers—is potentially at risk from offshoring in the relatively near future and then from full automation somewhat further out. Full automation is simply the logical next step. As technology advances, we can expect that more and more of the routine tasks now performed by offshore workers will eventually be handled entirely by machines. This has already occurred with respect to some call center workers who have been replaced by voice automation technology. As truly powerful natural language systems like IBM’s Watson move into the customer service arena, huge numbers of offshore call center jobs are poised to be vaporized. As this process unfolds, it seems likely that those companies—and nations—that have invested heavily in offshoring as a route to profitability and prosperity will have little choice but to move up the value chain. As more routine jobs are automated, higher-skill, professional jobs will be increasingly in the sights of the offshorers.
The system would draw on product specifications, prices, and clinical studies and research to make specific and instant recommendations to doctors and procurement managers.24 Watson is also looking for a role in the financial industry, where the system may be poised to provide personalized financial advice by delving into a wealth of information about specific customers as well as general market and economic conditions. The deployment of Watson in customer service call centers is perhaps the area with the most disruptive near-term potential, and it is likely no coincidence that within a year of Watson’s triumph on Jeopardy!, IBM was already working with Citigroup to explore applications for the system in the company’s massive retail banking operation.25 IBM’s new technology is still in its infancy. Watson—as well as the competing systems that are certain to eventually appear—have the potential to revolutionize the way questions are asked and answered, as well as the way information analysis is approached, both internal to organizations and in engagements with customers.
2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, asset-backed security, Bakken shale, banking crisis, BRICs, British Empire, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, Carmen Reinhart, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, creative destruction, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, demand response, Donald Trump, Frederick Winslow Taylor, high net worth, housing crisis, hydraulic fracturing, If something cannot go on forever, it will stop - Herbert Stein's Law, illegal immigration, index fund, intangible asset, intermodal, inventory management, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, LNG terminal, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, Maui Hawaii, McMansion, money market fund, mortgage debt, Network effects, new economy, obamacare, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, reserve currency, reshoring, Richard Florida, rising living standards, risk tolerance, risk/return, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, superstar cities, the High Line, transit-oriented development, Wall-E, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game, Zipcar
Somewhere in Hollywood it’s quite possible that a young showrunner is working up a script called Insourcing, about the misadventures of an Indian manager sent to run a call center in the United States. Or he could just crib from the May 2011 Washington Post article by Paul Glader. Glader visited a call center in New York run by Aegis Communications, a unit of the Indian conglomerate Essar, where workers earn $12 to $14 per hour to “make or take calls for customers of prescription drug plans or Medicare contracts and enter and verify information.” Like Sunil Godhwani, the Indian financial services executive I met in Davos, Indian outsourcing bosses see the United States as a prime area for growth. In 2010 Aegis employed about 5,000 people at nine U.S. call centers serving customers like American Express and the health insurer Humana. When it signs up big firms like Citibank and Hilton as clients, Tata Consultancy Services, another big Indian outsourcer, is now likely to keep that work in the United States.
The NBC sitcom Outsourced, about the hilarity that ensues when a young American runs a call center in India, aired in the fall of 2010. At precisely that moment the smart money was beginning to move in the other direction. Like manufacturers, some service companies have found that they may have taken outsourcing or offshoring one or two steps too far. The same set of factors that push executives to reconsider manufacturing in the United States are leading some to reconsider the location of service positions that had been offshored. Stagnant wages in the United States, combined with India’s erratic power grid and rapid wage increases, means the differential in costs for service operations between the United States and developing countries is narrowing. As GE CEO Jeff Immelt noted in a March 2011 speech to the Economic Club of Washington, “We run call centers now in the U.S. that are only 10 percent more expensive than [in] India.”6 Just as with manufacturing, there are sound business reasons—beyond wages—to think about reshoring service jobs.
Even though the United States doesn’t try very hard, and imposes needless barriers on itself, between 2005 and 2011 service exports rose more rapidly than goods exports did. And there’s room for much more. Rising wealth around the world means greater demand for services. Developing countries build exports—goods or services—by taking the low road: set up a factory to make cheap lightbulbs or build a low-wage call center, and you’re off. But it’s not all about a race to the bottom. The United States exports a lot of very expensive services—money management, education, health care, tourism—that have previously been unaffordable for the vast majority of humanity and that are getting more affordable. Like the Collinses of Wallquest before 2008, most American businesses were content to sell to their friends and neighbors and never gave much thought to selling overseas.
Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble by Dan Lyons
activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, call centre, cleantech, cloud computing, corporate governance, dumpster diving, fear of failure, Filter Bubble, Golden Gate Park, Google Glasses, Googley, Gordon Gekko, hiring and firing, Jeff Bezos, Lean Startup, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, minimum viable product, new economy, Paul Graham, pre–internet, quantitative easing, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rosa Parks, Sand Hill Road, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, software as a service, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, telemarketer, tulip mania, Y Combinator, éminence grise
Our sales pitch is that if you buy our software you won’t need to hire an army of outbound sales reps who spend their days blindly calling people, because our software will generate inbound leads and bring the customers to you. Yet here we are, operating an old-fashioned call center, with a bunch of low-paid kids calling thousands of people, day after day. HubSpot doesn’t keep this room a secret, but the company doesn’t talk about it much, either. It’s not exactly a lovable, magical, one-plus-one-equals-three kind of place. The truth is that most tech companies do some selling over the phone, and for a simple reason: It’s cheap. Oracle, a $40 billion software company, has started hiring thousands of college students and cramming them into call centers, as a way to lower its selling costs. Tech companies refer to these operations as “inside sales,” which sounds more respectable than “telemarketing.” While a lot of tech companies do some selling over the phone, from what I’ve been told HubSpot’s operation is more aggressive than most.
I’m done. I force a smile. I tell Zack thanks for the update. I tell him I’m sorry about my outburst, and I can’t wait to get started on this new project. “Oh,” Zack says, “there’s one more thing.” The content factory has been getting overcrowded, he tells me. So in addition to getting my own little blog, I am going to be moving to a new location, away from the blog team, in the telemarketing call center. It’s the loudest room in the building. People call it the spider monkey room. Zack assures me that this move will only be temporary. HubSpot is renovating space on the fourth floor, and eventually our team will move up there. Once again I give him my best “team player” smile and tell him this all sounds great. “You know,” I say, “I could really use your advice on how to set up this new blog.
The only affordable way to sell to them is over the phone. As a CMO friend of mine puts it, “The lower end of the market is a dial-for-dollars segment.” HubSpot isn’t the only software company using a low-cost sales model. Another friend of mine works at a software company that’s about the same size as HubSpot and engages in the same kind of touchy-feely rhetoric while behind the scenes operating the same kind of call center. The company’s investors are demanding astronomical growth rates, and while cold-calling thousands of leads may be a brute-force, blunt-instrument tactic, it’s the only way they can hit their numbers. “When you get a hard-charging sales culture in place, and you’re trying to keep up insane growth rates, all that high-minded preaching about how the New Economy means not doing things like they used to do in the Bad Old Days—all that stuff goes out the window, and they bring in Alec Baldwin to give his steak knives speech,” my friend says.
To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel H. Pink
always be closing, Atul Gawande, barriers to entry, call centre, Cass Sunstein, Checklist Manifesto, choice architecture, complexity theory, Credit Default Swap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, disintermediation, future of work, George Akerlof, information asymmetry, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, Marc Andreessen, Menlo Park, out of africa, Richard Thaler, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Steve Jobs, The Market for Lemons, Upton Sinclair, Wall-E, zero-sum game
In 2008, he carried out a fascinating study of a call center at a major U.S. university. Each night, employees made phone calls to alumni to raise money for the school. As is the habit of social psychologists, Grant randomly organized the fund-raisers into three groups. Then he arranged their work conditions to be identical—except for the five minutes prior to their shift. For two consecutive nights, one group read stories from people who’d previously worked in the call center, explaining that the job had taught them useful sales skills (perhaps attunement, buoyancy, and clarity). This was the “personal benefit group.” Another—the “purpose group”—read stories from university alumni who’d received scholarships funded by the money this call center had raised describing how those scholarships had helped them.
Adam Grant is a management professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and one of America’s top young social psychologists. Some of his previous research had examined extraversion28 and he’d become curious that a trait so widely associated with sales didn’t have much connection to success in that realm. So he decided to find out why. Grant collected data from a software company that operates call centers to sell its products. He began by asking more than three hundred sales representatives to complete several personality assessments, including one that social scientists use to measure where people fall on the introversion-extraversion spectrum. This particular assessment lists statements such as “I am the life of the party” and “I am quiet around strangers” and asks participants to rate themselves on a 1-to-7 scale, with their answers resulting in a numerical measure of extraversion.
23andMe, 3D printing, active measures, additive manufacturing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, airport security, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bill Joy: nanobots, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, borderless world, Brian Krebs, business process, butterfly effect, call centre, Chelsea Manning, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, computer vision, connected car, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, data acquisition, data is the new oil, Dean Kamen, disintermediation, don't be evil, double helix, Downton Abbey, drone strike, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Flash crash, future of work, game design, Google Chrome, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Gordon Gekko, high net worth, High speed trading, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, illegal immigration, impulse control, industrial robot, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Harrison: Longitude, John Markoff, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kuwabatake Sanjuro: assassination market, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lean Startup, license plate recognition, lifelogging, litecoin, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, mobile money, more computing power than Apollo, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Nate Silver, national security letter, natural language processing, obamacare, Occupy movement, Oculus Rift, off grid, offshore financial centre, optical character recognition, Parag Khanna, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, personalized medicine, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, RAND corporation, ransomware, Ray Kurzweil, refrigerator car, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rodney Brooks, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, security theater, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, Snapchat, social graph, software as a service, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, strong AI, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, technological singularity, telepresence, telepresence robot, Tesla Model S, The Future of Employment, The Wisdom of Crowds, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, uranium enrichment, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Wave and Pay, We are Anonymous. We are Legion, web application, Westphalian system, WikiLeaks, Y Combinator, zero day
As a result, when you dial 1-800-4MY-BANK, your call is invisibly rerouted to a call center manned and operated by international organized crime. Given the wide use of foreign call centers by financial institutions, who would question an accent on the other end of the line when you spoke to your “bank”? The spoof would be relatively easy to perpetrate. Once you were connected, you would be asked for your account number, mother’s maiden name, password, and other security information “just to verify you.” Next you would be told, “Oh, I’m sorry, sir or ma’am, our computers have just gone down. Tech support tells us they should be up in the morning. Would you mind calling back?” Nothing in that conversation would seem suspicious to anybody who’s had to deal with call center employees in the past. The only difference would be that by the end of the phone call, the criminal would have access to your personal and banking details and would use them in rapid succession to remove all funds from the account.
Within short order, Innovative Marketing had become a massive success—a global multilingual company, operating around the clock, with more than six hundred employees and customers in sixty countries. Through its subsidiaries, it outsourced call center functions to India to handle technical support and customer service queries in English. German speakers had their questions answered by bilingual staff in Poland, and Francophone clients were routed over VoIP to Algeria. Sales of Innovative Marketing’s software were all automated and distributed online. Customers could buy their products at the click of the mouse and product ID numbers were issued on e-mailed receipts, which offered money-back guarantees on goods sold. Innovative Marketing took customer service seriously and advised clients calling its 800 numbers that calls would be monitored for quality assurance. According to statistics kept by the call centers, over 95 percent of clients described themselves as “happy” with the service they had received.
Welcome to the world of cyber mercenaries, now available as one of the many CaaS offerings in the digital underground. In addition to hacker-for-hire services, Crime, Inc. subcontracts out for a wide variety of administrative services such as banking, translation, travel, and call center operations. For instance, companies such as CallService.biz fill a niche in the digital underground by providing on-demand English-, French-, and German-speaking stand-ins to help crooks contravene bank security measures required to initiate wire transfers, unblock hacked accounts, or change address contact information with the banks. Staffed 24/7, the multilingual crime call center will play any duplicitous role you would like, including providing job and educational references, for a mere $10 per call. Just about any professional service a crime-trepreneur might need can be found in the digital underground.
England by David Else
active transport: walking or cycling, Albert Einstein, back-to-the-land, Berlin Wall, British Empire, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, colonial rule, Columbine, congestion charging, David Attenborough, David Brooks, Etonian, food miles, glass ceiling, haute cuisine, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Mahatma Gandhi, mass immigration, new economy, New Urbanism, out of africa, period drama, place-making, sceptred isle, Skype, Sloane Ranger, South of Market, San Francisco, Stephen Hawking, the market place, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, unbiased observer, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Winter of Discontent
This popular route is fast becoming a classic, and most people go west–east to take advantage of prevailing winds. You’ll need five days to complete the whole route; the northeast England section, from Penrith (in Cumbria) to the east coast is a good three-day trip. If you wanted to cut the urban sections, Penrith to Consett is perfect in a weekend. The C2C is aimed at road bikes, but there are several optional off-road sections. * * * CALL THE NORTHEAST The northeast is the call-centre capital of England, mostly because the area desperately needed to attract jobs to the region following the demise of traditional industry. But another reason might have to do with the distinctive accent, which polls have shown to be the friendliest and most trustworthy of all English accents! * * * The other option is the Hadrian’s Cycleway (Click here in Cumbria. Most people riding along Hadrian’s Cycleway also go west–east to take advantage of the prevailing wind (ie, it’s more likely to be behind you), and a long-distance trans-England circuit combining Hadrian’s Cycleway and the C2C (and a bit of the Cumbrian coast) is growing in popularity.
Lonely Planet China (Travel Guide) by Lonely Planet, Shawn Low
Albert Einstein, anti-communist, bike sharing scheme, call centre, carbon footprint, clean water, colonial rule, credit crunch, Deng Xiaoping, haute couture, haute cuisine, income inequality, indoor plumbing, land reform, mass immigration, Pearl River Delta, place-making, Rubik’s Cube, Skype, South China Sea, special economic zone, sustainable-tourism, trade route, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, women in the workforce, Xiaogang Anhui farmers, young professional
The standard of English varies from good to non-existent, but free maps and some information is available. These include: The Bund (Luyou Zixun Fuwu Zhongxin MAP GOOGLE MAP ; %6357 3718; 518 Jiujiang Rd; h9.30am-8pm); Jing’an (Luyou Zixun Fuwu Zhongxin MAP GOOGLE MAP ; %5386 1882; 138 S Chengdu Rd; h9am-8.30pm); Old Town (Luyou Zixun Fuwu Zhongxin MAP GOOGLE MAP ; %6355 5032; 149 Jiujiaochang Rd; h9am-7pm) Shanghai Call CentreTELEPHONE (%962 288) This toll-free English-language hotline is possibly the most useful telephone number in Shanghai – it can even give your cab driver directions if you've got a mobile phone. Travel Agencies STA TravelTRAVEL AGENCY ( GOOGLE MAP ; %2281 7723; www.statravel.com.cn; Room 1609, Shanghai Trade Tower, 188 Siping Rd; h9.30am-6pm Mon-Fri, 9.30am-12.30pm Sat; mHailun Rd) Sells train and air tickets, and can issue international student identity cards.
Business Metadata: Capturing Enterprise Knowledge by William H. Inmon, Bonnie K. O'Neil, Lowell Fryman
affirmative action, bioinformatics, business intelligence, business process, call centre, carbon-based life, continuous integration, corporate governance, create, read, update, delete, database schema, en.wikipedia.org, informal economy, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, semantic web, The Wisdom of Crowds, web application
Feldman uses a revenue number of $500K/year per employee, which translates to $240/hr. 1000 employees * 50% failed searches * 240/hr * 2.5 hours searching = $300K/week or greater than $15M/year. 70 Chapter 4 Business Metadata, Communication, and Search 220.127.116.11 Decrease in Call Center Volume The impact of failed searches on call center volume can be measured. If both internal and external personnel can find the information they need on a Web portal, then this represents less HR or sales requests. Feldman reports that call center volume decreases by 30% when search is improved. Good online customer service can handle up to 90 percent of customer questions. Implementing premium search can immediately boost call deflection, cutting the number of calls in half. (Sue Aldrich, as quoted in Seybold, 2006) 18.104.22.168 Increase in Sales Improved search can also add to the revenue, as is seen most prominently in ecommerce companies.
Feldman backs up her statistics by noting that others have found similar results, notably: ✦ Ford Motor Company ✦ Working council of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) ✦ Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) ✦ Reuters ✦ Kit Sims Taylor Here are some attempts to quantify the cost impact of failed search in the enterprise. 22.214.171.124 Attempts to Quantify Search Impact Feldman identifies three types of costs that can be quantified: ✦ Employee time wasted ✦ Duplicating/reworking information ✦ Opportunity cost On the positive side, Feldman and Seybold identify two areas in which increased search capacity has a positive impact: ✦ Decrease in call center volume ✦ Increase in sales (conversion rates and shopping basket size—e-commerce) Each of these areas is summarized below. 4.4 Communications and Search 126.96.36.199 69 Baseline Assumptions The IDC study begins with the following baseline assumptions: ✦ Each employee costs the enterprise $80,000, which includes salary plus benefits. ✦ The average knowledge worker spends 2.5 hours/day (30%) searching for information. ✦ The enterprise employs 1000 knowledge workers. ✦ 50% of information is not centrally indexed (housed in silos as on someone’s notebook computer or a database). ✦ 50% of Web searches fail/are abandoned. 188.8.131.52 Employee Time Wasted Based on these assumptions, Feldman calculated that the enterprise wastes $48,000 per week, or almost $2.5 million a year in searches.
Appendix Metadata System of Record Example Table 1 Metadata object system of record Meta Object Entity Name Entity Type Entity Definition Entity Scope Entity Active Ind Entity Logical Business Rule Logical Application Name Entity Synonym Name Logical Attribute Logical Attribute Definition Attribute Logical Business Rule Attribute Logical FK Ind Attribute Business Area Logical Business Function Data Subject Area Physical Column Name Physical Column Data Type Physical Column Length Physical Column Precision Strategic Modeling Tool Tactical Modeling Tool C C C C C U U C U DBMS Tool Data Integration Tool Reporting Tool U C C C C U C U C C U U C C U U C U C U C U C U (Cont.) 283 284 Appendix Table 1 Metadata object system of record (continued) Meta Object Strategic Modeling Tool Physical Column Decimal places Physical Column Default Value Physical Column Nullable Ind Physical Column Comment Physical Column Primary Key Ind Physical Column Foreign Key Ind Table Name Table Owner Table Type Table Comments Physical Table Name Physical Column Name Physical View Name Physical Database Name Physical Schema Name ETL Object Name Source Table Source Column Target Table Target Column ETL Job Name ETL Transformation Rule ETL Job Run Date ETL Job Execution Time ETL Job Row Count ETL Job Status Report Name Report Element Name Report Table Name Report Database Name Report DB Sequence Report Element Business Rule Tactical Modeling Tool DBMS Tool C U C U C U C U C C C C C U U U U U C C C C C Data Integration Tool Reporting Tool C R R R R C C C C C C C R R R R C Appendix 285 Metadata Usage Matrix Example The following table summarizes the metadata objects and the anticipated usage of each object in the following functions: Table 1 Summary of metadata objects usage Source – Metadata Object Entity Name Entity Type Entity Definition Entity Scope Entity Container Entity Active Ind Entity Logical Business Rule Logical Application Name Entity Synonym Name Logical Attribute Logical Attribute Definition Attribute Logical Business Rule Attribute Logical FK Ind Attribute Business Area Logical Business Function Data Subject Area Physical Column Name Physical Column Data Type Physical Column Length Physical Column Precision Physical Column Decimal Places Physical Column Default Value Physical Column Nullable Ind Data Lineage Impact Analysis Definition and or Glossary Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y (Cont.) 286 Appendix Table 1 Summary of metadata objects usage (continued) Source – Metadata Object Physical Column Comment Physical Column Primary Key Ind Physical Column Foreign Key Ind Table Name Table Owner Table Type Table Comments Physical Table Name Physical Column Name Physical View Name Physical Database Name Physical Schema Name ETL Object Name Source Table Source Column Target Table Target Column ETL Job Name ETL Transformation Rule ETL Job Run Date ETL Job Execution Time ETL Job Row Count ETL Job Status Report Name Report Element Name Report Table Name Report Database Name Report DB Sequence Report Element Business Rule Data Lineage Impact Analysis Definition and or Glossary Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Index Abstraction, linking structured and unstructured data, 230–231 Accuracy, metadata information, 33–34 Administration, infrastructure issues functionality requirements, 169 history keeping, 169–170 BI, see Business intelligence Broader term, definition component, 61, 63–64 Business Glossary features, 111–112 integrated technical and business metadata delivery, 152–153 Business intelligence (BI), business metadata delivery infrastructure, 163 Business metadata capture, see Capture, business metadata components, 13 definition, 38 delivery, see Delivery, business metadata funding, see Funding, business metadata historical perspective, 3–11 importance, 274–275 locations corporate forms, 15–16 reports, 14, 29–31 screens, 13–14 origins, 19–20 repository construction, see Metadata project resources, 281–282 technical metadata comparison, 12–13 conversion, 135–136, 182–186 infrastructure for integration, 165–166 separation, 140 tracking over time, 20–21 types, 158–160 Business rules business management, 238–239 business metadata, 237, 245 capturing rationale, 238–239 definition, 235–236 maintenance, 242 management, 243 metadata repository, 244–245 ruleflow, 242–243 sources, 237–238 systems, 239, 242–243 Call center volume, search problem quantification, 70 Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI), note-taking as asset producing, 265 Capture, business metadata barriers, 275 corporate knowledge base, 93–94 culture, 95–96 editing automation, 128–129 expansion of definition and descriptions, 129–131 granularization, 129 homonym resolution, 132–134 manual editing, 134–135 staging area, 134 synonym resolution, 131–132 Governance Lite™, 107–109, 111 individual documentation problem, 114–115 knowledge socialization, see Knowledge socialization metadata sources comparison of sources, 127 data warehouse, 126 database management system system catalogs, 124 documents, 123 enterprise resource planning applications, 122 extract-transform-load, 124–125 legacy systems, 125–126 on-line analytical processing tools, 124 on-line transaction processing, 125–126 reports, 122–123 spreadsheets, 123 principles, 95–96 publicity, 112–113 rationale, 90–93 technical metadata conversion to business metadata, 135–136 287 288 Index Capture, business metadata (Continued) technology search, 109–111 Web 2.0 folksonomy, 118–119 mashups, 115–116 overview, 115 Card catalog, see Library card catalog CDC, see Centers for Disease Control Centers for Disease Control (CDC), linking structured and unstructured data, 231 CIF, see Corporate Information Factory C-map, see Concept Map CMMI, see Capability Maturity Model Integration Collective intelligence, knowledge socialization, 97 Communications audits, 251 clarity problems bad business decisions, 57 English language limitations, 59 everyday communications, 56–57 faulty rollups, 57–58 units of measure differences, 59 classification, see Taxonomy definitions components, 61–62 guidelines, 60–61 importance, 59–60 miscellaneous guidelines, 64 usage notes, 62–64 historic library creation, 253 human/computer communication problem, 276–278 screening, 251–253 search problem information and knowledge workers, 65–66 information provider guidelines, 71–72 quantification, 67–70 search techniques, 71 tracking down information, 66–67 Compliance communications audits, 251 historic library creation, 253 screening, 251–253 data profiling, 254–256 financial audit metadata utility, 250 transaction background activities, 250–251 prospects, 280 Sarbanes-Oxley Act provisions, 248–240 types, 249–251 Concept Map (C-map), semantic framework, 205, 209 Conceptual model, semantic framework, 204 Controlled vocabulary (CV), semantic framework, 200–201 Corporate forms, business metadata content, 15–16 Corporate Information Factory (CIF), implementation, 81–82 Corporate knowledge base, components, 93–94 Create Read Update Delete (CRUD), conflict resolution, 167 CRM, see Customer relationship management Cross selling, business metadata capture rationale, 92 CRUD, see Create Read Update Delete Customer relationship management (CRM), business metadata capture rationale, 92 Customer, definition, 56 CV, see Controlled vocabulary DASD, see Direct access storage device Data, definition, 176 Database management system (DBMS) historical perspective, 5 metadata storage, 19 system catalog as metadata resource, 124 Data Flux, data quality presentation, 190–191 Data Governance Council, metadata stewardship, 42–43 Data quality continuum, 190 Data Warehousing report, 49 definition, 177 presentation, 189–190 Data Stewardship Council, metadata stewardship, 43–44 Data warehouse historical perspective, 7–9 infrastructure, 160–161 metadata resource, 126 metadata warehouse features, 161–162 DBMS, see Database management system Decision table, business rule representation, 239–242 Decision tree, business rule representation, 239, 241 Index Definition components, 61–62 dictionary role in information quality, 186 guidelines, 60–61 importance, 59–60 miscellaneous guidelines, 64 usage notes, 62–64 Delivery, business metadata examples corporate dictionary, 147–148 integrated technical and business metadata delivery, 152–153 mashups, 149–150 technical use, 151–152 training, 148–149 visual analytic techniques, 150–151 indirect usage accessibility from multiple places, 142–143 application access, 147 interactive reports, 145–146 overview, 141–142 Web delivery, 143–144 information quality business metadata, 188–190 infrastructure considerations business intelligence environments, 163 graphical affinity, 163–164 legacy environment, 162–163 mashups, 164 principles, 140–141 prospects, 280 Description Logics (DL), semantic framework, 206 Dictionary, see Glossary Direct access storage device (DASD), historical perspective, 4–6 Disk storage, historical perspective, 4–6 DL, see Description Logics Documents, metadata resource, 123 Editing, metadata automation, 128–129 expansion of definition and descriptions, 129–131 granularization, 129 homonym resolution, 132–134 manual editing, 134–135 staging area, 134 synonym resolution, 131–132 Employee turnover, business metadata capture rationale, 91–92 289 Enterprise resource planning (ERP), metadata resource, 85, 122 Entity/relationship (ER) model, semantic framework, 203–204, 208, 210–211 ER model, see Entity/relationship model ERP, see Enterprise resource planning ETL, see Extract-transform-load Extract-transform-load (ETL), metadata resource, 85, 124–125 Federated metadata, integrated metadata management, 168 Financial audit metadata utility, 250 transaction background activities, 250–251 First-order logic (FOL), semantic framework, 206 FOL, see First-order logic Folksonomy knowledge capture, 118–119 self-organizing tags, 77 Forms, see Corporate forms Fourth generation language historical perspective, 6–7 metadata handling, 11 Funding, business metadata advantages and disadvantages of approaches, 52–53 centralized implementation, 51 localized implementation, 51–52 overview, 50–51 Glossary business functions, 60 information quality role, 186 semantic framework, 201 Governance Lite™, knowledge capture, 107–109, 111 Granularization, metadata, 129 Graphical affinity, business metadata delivery infrastructure, 163–164 Grid, metadata representation, 18 Groupware, knowledge socialization, 100–103, 279 Homonyms, resolution, 132–134 Industrial recognition, text, 227 Information quality business and technical metadata interaction, 177–186 business metadata delivery, 188–190 290 Index Information quality (Continued) definition, 177 dictionary role, 186 methodology, 187–188 Information Technology (IT) department challenges, 278–279 metadata responsibility, 38–39 Information, definition, 177 IT department, see Information Technology department KB, see Knowledge base KM, see Knowledge management Knowledge base (KB) definition, 267 building, 267 Knowledge management (KM) business metadata intersection artifact generation, 262–263 corporate dictionary example, 263 definition, 260 goals, 260–261 importance, 261 social issues graying work force, 269–270 socialization effect on knowledge, 270 tacit knowledge, see Tacit knowledge techniques, 267–268 Knowledge socialization collective intelligence, 97 experts, 97–98 groupware, 100–103, 279 knowledge management, 268, 270 technology fostering portal and collaboration servers, 100–103 social networking, 99 wikis, 103–106 Knowledge worker metadata capture, 94 search problem, 65–66 Legacy systems business metadata delivery infrastructure, 162–163 metadata resource, 125–126 Library card catalog, metadata analogy, 27–29 Life cycle, metadata, 45–48 Magnetic tape data storage, 4 languages for data reading, 10 Mashup business metadata delivery, 149–150, 164 knowledge capture, 115–116 Master data management (MDM) conflict resolution, 167 overview, 22 MDM, see Master data management Metadata definition, 9, 26–27 examples, 9 grid representation, 18 management importance, 32 metamodel, 158–160 system of record example, 283–284 usage matrix example, 285–286 Metadata project business metadata versus technical metadata, 83–84 buying versus building, 170–172 classification, 82–83 funding, see Funding, business metadata iterations of development, 84 local metadata tools, 85 metadata sources, 86–87 preexisting repositories, 172–173 rationale, 80–82 scope defining, 85–87 Metadata Stewardship Council, responsibilities, 44–45 Narrower term, definition component, 61, 63–64 National Cancer Institute (NCI), semantic vocabulary implementation, 214–216 NCI, see National Cancer Institute Null, data profiling, 183, 185–186 ODS, see Operational data store OLAP, see Online analytical processing On-line analytical processing, metadata resource, 85124 On-line transaction processing, metadata resource, 125–126 Ontology, semantic framework, 207 Operational data store (ODS), data warehousing, 8 Opportunity cost, search problem quantification, 69 OWL, see Web Ontology Language Ownership, definition, 40 Patterns, identification, 183–184, 186 PC, see Personal computer Index Personal computer (PC) historical perspective, 7 metadata handling, 11 Preferred term, definition component, 62 Punch cards historical perspective, 4 metadata, 9–10 Quality, see Data quality; Information quality Range of values, data profiling, 183, 186 RDF, see Resource Definition Framework Reference file overview, 21–22 updating, 22 Regulations, see Compliance Related term, definition component, 61 Reports interactive reports, 145–146 metadata resource, 14, 29–31, 122–123 Repository, see Metadata project Resource Definition Framework (RDF), semantic framework, 204–205 Reuse, metadata, 32–33 Sales, search problem quantification, 70 Sarbanes-Oxley Act, provisions, 248–240 Screen, business metadata content, 13–14 Search problem enterprise search, 279 information and knowledge workers, 65–66 information provider guidelines, 71–72 quantification, 67–70 search techniques, 71 tracking down information, 66–67 Self-organizing map, linking structured and unstructured data, 233 Self-organizing tags, taxonomy, 77 Semantics business metadata delivering definitions and relationships, 208–209 exposing semantics to business, 210–211 expression, 209–210 overview, 207–208 context sensitivity, 197–199 framework Concept Map, 205, 209 conceptual model, 204 controlled vocabulary, 200–201 Description Logics, 206 291 entity/relationship model, 203–204, 208, 210–211 first-order logic, 206 glossary, 201 ontology, 207 Resource Definition Framework, 204–205 taxonomy, 202 thesauri, 203 topic map, 205 UML, 205–206 Web Ontology Language, 204–205, 210 human/computer concept, 199–200, 278 importance, 196–197 practical issues integration, 211–212 National Cancer Institute semantic vocabulary implementation, 214–216 service-oriented architecture, 214 Web Services, 212–213 prospects for integration and discovery, 280 semantic Web, 195–196 spectrum, 200–201, 208 Semistructured data, examples and technologies, 222–223 Serial transfer, knowledge management, 267–268 Service-oriented architecture (SOA) integrated metadata management, 168 semantics integration, 214 SOA, see Service-oriented architecture SOAP, semantic interface, 212 Socialization, see Knowledge socialization Social networking, knowledge socialization, 99 Spreadsheets, metadata resource, 123 Stemmed words, text distillation, 225 Stewardship business metadata approaches, 44–45 artifacts, 44 Data Governance Council, 42–43 Data Stewardship Council, 43–44 historical perspective, 41–42 Metadata Stewardship Council, 44–45 definition, 40–41 Structured metadata characteristics, 16–18 examples and technologies, 219–220 linking structured and unstructured data abstraction, 230–231 examples, 231, 233 292 Index Structured metadata (Continued) integration, 230 unstructured data comparison, 221 Synonyms, resolution, 131–132 Tacit knowledge definition, 94, 264 note-taking as asset producing, 265–266 transfer nurturing, 266 Taxonomy basic rules, 73, 75 document categorization, 76 governance and taxonomy, 77 language and vocabulary, 75–76 lowest common denominator, 75 overview, 72 self-organizing tags, 77 semantic framework, 202 simplicity, 76 Team Room, knowledge socialization, 100–103 Technical metadata business metadata comparison, 12–13 conversion, 135–136 infrastructure for integration, 165–166 separation, 140 categories, 2 Technical metadata conversion to business metadata, 135–136, 182–186 profiling, 179–182 Text business metadata terms, 227–228 communications audits, 252–253 distillation, 224–229 extraneous words, 225 industrial recognition, 227 pulling, 223 relationship recognition, 228–229 stemmed words, 225 word counting, 226 Thesauri, semantic framework, 203 Topic map, semantic framework, 205 UML, semantic framework, 205–206 Unstructured metadata characteristics, 16–18 examples and technologies, 220–221 mining prospects, 281 structured data comparison, 221 text business metadata terms, 227–228 distillation, 224–229 extraneous words, 225 industrial recognition, 227 pulling, 223 relationship recognition, 228–229 stemmed words, 225 word counting, 226 Value/frequency report, data profiling, 181, 184–186 Web 2.0 knowledge capture folksonomy, 118–119 mashups, 115–116 overview, 115 semantic Web, 195–196 Web Ontology Language (OWL), semantic framework, 204–205, 210 Web Services, semantics interface, 212–213 Wiki governance, 106 knowledge capture, 104 limitations, 105–106 portal collaboration comparison, 105 wikinomics, 104 Wikipedia, 103–104, 212 Words, see Text
Building Microservices by Sam Newman
airport security, Amazon Web Services, anti-pattern, business process, call centre, continuous integration, create, read, update, delete, defense in depth, don't repeat yourself, Edward Snowden, fault tolerance, index card, information retrieval, Infrastructure as a Service, inventory management, job automation, load shedding, loose coupling, platform as a service, premature optimization, pull request, recommendation engine, social graph, software as a service, source of truth, the built environment, web application, WebSocket, x509 certificate
Back to our helpdesk application: do we allow any staff members to see any and all details? More likely, we’ll have different roles at work. For example, a principal in the CALL_CENTER group might be allowed to view any piece of information about a customer except his payment details. The principal might also be able to issue refunds, but that amount might be capped. Someone who has the CALL_CENTER_TEAM_LEADER role, however, might be able to issue larger refunds. These decisions need to be local to the microservice in question. I have seen people use the various attributes supplied by identity providers in horrible ways, using really fine-grained roles like CALL_CENTER_50_DOLLAR_REFUND, where they end up putting information specific to one part of one of our system’s behavior into their directory services. This is a nightmare to maintain and gives very little scope for our services to have their own independent lifecycle, as suddenly a chunk of information about how a service behaves lives elsewhere, perhaps in a system managed by a different part of the organization.
In this world, if other services want information from a service, they reach into the database. And if they want to change it, they reach into the database! This is really simple when you first think about it, and is probably the fastest form of integration to start with — which probably explains its popularity. Figure 4-1 shows our registration UI, which creates customers by performing SQL operations directly on the database. It also shows our call center application that views and edits customer data by running SQL on the database. And the warehouse updates information about customer orders by querying the database. This is a common enough pattern, but it’s one fraught with difficulties. Figure 4-1. Using DB integration to access and change customer information First, we are allowing external parties to view and bind to internal implementation details.
Goodbye, loose coupling. Finally, let’s think about behavior for a moment. There is going to be logic associated with how a customer is changed. Where is that logic? If consumers are directly manipulating the DB, then they have to own the associated logic. The logic to perform the same sorts of manipulation to a customer may now be spread among multiple consumers. If the warehouse, registration UI, and call center UI all need to edit customer information, I need to fix a bug or change the behavior in three different places, and deploy those changes too. Goodbye, cohesion. Remember when we talked about the core principles behind good microservices? Strong cohesion and loose coupling — with database integration, we lose both things. Database integration makes it easy for services to share data, but does nothing about sharing behavior.
Only Humans Need Apply: Winners and Losers in the Age of Smart Machines by Thomas H. Davenport, Julia Kirby
AI winter, Andy Kessler, artificial general intelligence, asset allocation, Automated Insights, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, business intelligence, business process, call centre, carbon-based life, Clayton Christensen, clockwork universe, commoditize, conceptual framework, dark matter, David Brooks, deliberate practice, deskilling, digital map, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, estate planning, fixed income, follow your passion, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Freestyle chess, game design, general-purpose programming language, Google Glasses, Hans Lippershey, haute cuisine, income inequality, index fund, industrial robot, information retrieval, intermodal, Internet of things, inventory management, Isaac Newton, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, lifelogging, loss aversion, Mark Zuckerberg, Narrative Science, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, performance metric, Peter Thiel, precariat, quantitative trading / quantitative ﬁnance, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Skype, speech recognition, spinning jenny, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, strong AI, superintelligent machines, supply-chain management, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Works Progress Administration, Zipcar
Many modern jobs are transactional service jobs—that is, they feature people helping customers access what they need from complex business systems. But whether the customer is buying an airline ticket, ordering a meal, or making an appointment, these transactions are so routinized that they are simple to translate into code. You might well know someone—a bank teller, an airline reservations clerk, a call center representative—who lost his or her job to the new reality of computerized systems enabling self-service. At least, you feel the absence of them when you contact a company and encounter a machine interface. Just as Era One of automation continues to play out, so does Era Two. There is still plenty of work currently performed by humans that could be more cheaply and capably performed by machines—increasingly smart ones in particular.
The general point to be made here is that machines need augmenting when there are important exceptions to rules and structured logic. Finally, we’d argue that, if the goal is to provide truly exceptional or differentiated products and services at scale, only an augmentation arrangement can accomplish that. We’re all familiar with completely automated customer service, and most of us have developed strategies for finding a human to talk to about our problem (you know—pressing zero or saying “agent”). The menu of call center information options often just doesn’t cut it. If you want your service to be high quality, or if you want your products to be differentiated from competitors, having computers churn out your processes is unlikely to do the job. When we talk about companies with high reputations in the marketplace, we seldom talk about their automation. Instead it’s the creativity of a master designer, or the “human touch” from a customer service agent.
But the word still seems apt, because what is going on here is that a flexible computer program is being instructed on how to interact with the major information technology backbone systems of the business in just the same way a human worker would. An example is the use of Blue Prism software by Britain’s Co-operative Bank. Traditionally, its employees have followed a typical process when a customer has called to report a lost or stolen credit card. Having gleaned the relevant information from the customer in a conversation lasting perhaps five minutes, the call center agent would spend twenty-five minutes interacting with a variety of different internal systems to cancel the existing card, enter notes on the account, provide for delivery of a new card, and so forth. By programming software to perform these rather mundane and repetitive tasks (investing in, as Bathgate calls it, robotic process automation), Co-operative Bank has enabled agents who were dealing with two lost-card incidents per hour to deal with perhaps a dozen.
Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives by Tim Harford
affirmative action, Air France Flight 447, Airbnb, airport security, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, assortative mating, Atul Gawande, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Barry Marshall: ulcers, Basel III, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Broken windows theory, call centre, Cass Sunstein, Chris Urmson, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, crowdsourcing, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, Erdős number, experimental subject, Ferguson, Missouri, Filter Bubble, Frank Gehry, game design, global supply chain, Googley, Guggenheim Bilbao, high net worth, Inbox Zero, income inequality, industrial cluster, Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Merlin Mann, microbiome, out of africa, Paul Erdős, Richard Thaler, Rosa Parks, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, telemarketer, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Turing test, urban decay, William Langewiesche
We hit the target, but miss the point. Sometimes a target reflects yesterday’s problems, not today’s. The world tends to change faster than bureaucracies can keep up, which causes problems for any organization that has lashed itself to an unbending framework of performance measures. Imagine a company with targets for resolving queries from customers who phone the call center, but no target for dealing with a problem using the Web. The target demands that resources should be funneled to the call center, when they might be better used on the website. Anyone who wants to improve will have to ignore the target. There are also two ways to sidestep a target completely: lying and cheating. It’s sometimes possible to lie—miss your target, but say you hit it—and that sounds bad enough. But cheating, or “gaming”—where you cynically distort your behavior to hit the target—may be worse.
I hope this book will serve as the Vera Brandes in your life—the nudge, when you are tempted by tidiness, to embrace some mess instead. Each chapter explores a different aspect of messiness, showing how it can spur creativity, nurture resilience, and generally bring out the best in us. That is true whether we are performing with a piano in front of a concert hall audience or a slide deck in front of a boardroom; whether we are running a corporation or manning a call center; whether we are commanding an army, dating, or trying to be a good parent. The success we admire is often built on messy foundations—even if those foundations are often hidden away. I will stand up for messiness not because I think messiness is the answer to all life’s problems, but because I think messiness has too few defenders. I want to convince you that there can sometimes be a certain magic in mess. 1 Creativity “You’re asking the blood in your brain to flow in another direction.”
A best man faced giving a wedding speech without proper footwear because the Zappos courier, UPS, had screwed up; on hearing his tale, a Zappos rep rushed him free shoes by express delivery. Another Zappos rep took a call from a customer who was staying in Las Vegas, not far from Zappos HQ. The customer was trying to get a pair of shoes that Zappos no longer stocked; the Zappos rep found them in stock at a rival retailer at a nearby shopping mall, left the call center, bought the shoes, and delivered them to the customer by hand.26 Zappos would soon be out of business if every customer received such treatment. But in each of these cases the customer was in an unusual situation: I’m returning my husband’s shoes because he just died; my shoes haven’t arrived and I am best man at a wedding tomorrow; I can’t get the shoes I want and I’m just a couple of miles from your office right now.
Instead, Eric had arranged for them to meet with a slew of sports book owners who were bringing in the lion’s share of business in the gaming industry. And even though Scott had repeatedly explained that they weren’t interested in sports gambling, Eric had maintained that the sports books were the place to start. So again and again, Eric parked the Fiat in front of one of the nondescript warehouses or the low ranch houses and ushered the four of them inside. Each time the setup was the same. Cubicled call centers spread out across bland spaces—hell, if you walked into a call center at Hewlett-Packard or Cisco, you’d expect to see the same thing. Once they got into the back offices, they found that most of the operators behind the sports books were Americans, while the front-office staff was usually Costa Rican. But the most remarkable thing about the sports books—and the thing that they all seemed to have in common—was the seedy element at the top levels.
The energy around him, the Wild West feel—it was exactly what he needed. Poker, the way it was played in America, had been born in Mississippi in the Wild West era. But Scott intended to take it into the modern age, to turn it sophisticated, to make it as tempting and addictive packaged in electronic bits and bytes as it was on a felt table over a sawdust floor. Sports betting—that was a different business. It was call centers taking phone calls all day long; it was dirty, mobbed up, and illegal. Poker was sophisticated, young, and hip. To capture that, Scott knew the key was going to be the game itself—the software. Now that he had his core team, was on his way to finding financing, and knew where he was going to build his empire, the next step was to figure out how. CHAPTER 10 Mission accomplished,” Garin said as he rejoined Scott in the waiting area of Sea-Tac’s international terminal.
The superuser accounts would be helpful in calling out some of those issues, but there was also going to be a lot of feedback coming in from the players. Which was why at the moment, Garin was sitting cross-legged on the floor in the area they’d designated as Customer Service. In front of him were a computer and a telephone. The 1-800 number that led to that phone had been inserted into the beta introduction page, so for the moment Garin was their call center, ready for action. “Okay, I guess it’s time,” Scott said. He signaled Hilt, who began to type into his computer, communicating with the server hosts at HostaRica, then with the Koreans, who would be monitoring the beta test as well. As Hilt had pointed out, it really was mostly friends and family—though they had also sent out notices through a few of the more public poker forums, advertising themselves in a decidedly grassroots manner.
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone
3D printing, airport security, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, bank run, Bernie Madoff, big-box store, Black Swan, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, call centre, centre right, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Danny Hillis, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, facts on the ground, game design, housing crisis, invention of movable type, inventory management, James Dyson, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Kodak vs Instagram, late fees, loose coupling, low skilled workers, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, Network effects, new economy, optical character recognition, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, quantitative hedge fund, recommendation engine, Renaissance Technologies, RFID, Rodney Brooks, search inside the book, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, skunkworks, Skype, statistical arbitrage, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Thomas L Friedman, Tony Hsieh, Whole Earth Catalog, why are manhole covers round?, zero-sum game
He had joined Amazon right in the middle of Bezos’s conflict with Joe Galli. After his first few weeks, Piacentini called his wife back in Milan and told her not to pack their things for Seattle quite yet. But after Galli left, he grew more comfortable at Amazon. A year later, during the layoffs, he was tasked with closing Amazon’s new multilingual call center in The Hague. The facility had been poorly selected. The Hague was a financial and diplomatic hub, and the call center was incongruously located in a marble-floored building that had once been occupied by a bank. It never should have been opened in the first place, but “people at various levels were making decentralized decisions to move quickly and the process wasn’t strong,” Piacentini says. The center had been open only a few months when Piacentini arrived to shut it down.
The sheer size of Amazon’s workforce and the fact that turnover is so high in the fulfillment centers make it extremely difficult for anyone to organize workers. Most recently, in 2013, workers at two Amazon FCs in Germany went on strike for four days, demanding better pay and benefits. The company refused to negotiate with the union. The unions themselves say there’s another hurdle involved—employees’ fear of retribution. In January 2001, the company closed a Seattle customer-service call center, as part of a larger round of cost-cutting measures. Amazon said closing the facility was unrelated to recent union activity there, but the union involved was not so sure. “The number one thing standing in the way of Amazon unionization is fear,” says Rennie Sawade, a spokesman for the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers. Employees are “afraid they’ll fire you—even though it’s technically not legal.
Hsieh and Alfred Lin, a Harvard classmate and former chief financial officer of LinkExchange, placed a tentative $500,000 bet on the startup Zappos via their investment firm Venture Frogs, and Hsieh later joined it as CEO. In the grip of the dot-com downturn, Hsieh simply refused to let Zappos die, putting in $1.5 million of his own money and selling off some of his personal assets to keep it afloat. He moved the company from San Francisco to Las Vegas to cut costs and to make it easier to find workers for its customer-service call center. In 2004, Hsieh attracted an investment from Sequoia Capital, the firm that had backed LinkExchange. Sequoia, which had rejected Zappos a few times before coming around, invested a total of $48 million in the startup across several rounds, and a partner, Michael Moritz, joined the board of directors. In Las Vegas, the company finally found its groove, and in the minds of Web shoppers, its name and website became synonymous with the novel idea of buying footwear online.
Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness by Frederic Laloux, Ken Wilber
Albert Einstein, augmented reality, blue-collar work, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, carbon footprint, conceptual framework, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, failed state, future of work, hiring and firing, index card, interchangeable parts, invisible hand, job satisfaction, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Kenneth Rogoff, meta analysis, meta-analysis, pattern recognition, post-industrial society, quantitative trading / quantitative ﬁnance, randomized controlled trial, selection bias, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, the market place, the scientific method, Tony Hsieh, zero-sum game
Soon enough, the organizations that grouped the nurses started merging themselves, in pursuit of ever more scale: the number of organizations dropped from 295 to 86 in just five years, from 1990 to 1995. Piece by piece, the Achievement-Orange logic grew deeper roots. Tasks were specialized: some people would take care of intake of new patients and determine how nurses would best serve them; planners were hired to provide nurses with a daily schedule, optimizing the route from patient to patient; call center employees started taking patients’ calls; given the growing size of the organizations, regional managers and directors were appointed as bosses to supervise the nurses in the field. To ensure accurate planning and drive up efficiency, time norms were established for each type of intervention: in one company, for instance, intravenous injections would be allotted exactly 10 minutes, bathing 15 minutes, wound dressing 10 minutes, and changing a compression stocking 2.5 minutes.
The responsibility lies with the teams and Jos [de Blok, the founder].32 Coaches have no hierarchical power, but make no mistake, they play a crucial role just the same. Self-management is no walk in the park. Newer teams in particular face a steep learning curve. They are effectively in charge of all the aspects of creating and running a small organization of 12 people (remember, there are no intakers, no planners, no call center operators, no administrators, no managers), and at the same time they are learning to manage interpersonal dynamics within a self-organizing, boss-less team. The regional coach is a precious resource to the teams; upon request she can give advice or share how other teams have solved similar problems. Mostly, though, the coach’s role is to ask the insightful questions that help teams find their own solutions.
They truly deserve the name support functions, kicking into action only when teams request their support. At Buurtzorg, for example, the 7,000 nurses are supported by only 30 people working from a humble building in a residential part of Almelo, a town in the northern Netherlands—a far cry from the headquarters building you might expect for such a successful company. None of them are involved in the typical headquarters functions of nursing companies (intake, planning, call center). Buurtzorg has incredibly motivated employees (it is regularly elected “best company to work for” in the country) but, like many other Teal Organizations, it has no human resources department. People working at headquarters have a strong ethos of service to the teams of nurses—their duty is to support nurses with the same dedication and responsiveness that the nurses bring to their patients.
A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, AI winter, airport security, Apple II, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bill Duvall, bioinformatics, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, call centre, cellular automata, Chris Urmson, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collective bargaining, computer age, computer vision, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, DARPA: Urban Challenge, data acquisition, Dean Kamen, deskilling, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, future of work, Galaxy Zoo, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Grace Hopper, Gunnar Myrdal, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hacker Ethic, haute couture, hive mind, hypertext link, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invention of the wheel, Jacques de Vaucanson, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Conway, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, labor-force participation, loose coupling, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, medical residency, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, natural language processing, new economy, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, pattern recognition, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Stallman, Robert Gordon, Rodney Brooks, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, semantic web, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, skunkworks, Skype, social software, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, telepresence, telepresence robot, Tenerife airport disaster, The Coming Technological Singularity, the medium is the message, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, zero-sum game
Much of the growth of the U.S. white-collar workforce after World War II was driven by the rapid spread of communications networks: telemarketers, telephone operators, and technical and sales support jobs all involved giving companies the infrastructure to connect customers with employees. Computerization transformed these occupations: call centers moved overseas and the first generation of automated switchboards replaced a good number of switchboard and telephone operators. Software companies like Nuance, the SRI spin-off that offers speaker-independent voice recognition, have begun to radically transform customer call centers and airline reservation systems. Despite consumers’ rejection of “voicemail hell,” system technology like My Cybertwin and Nuance will soon put at risk jobs that involve interacting with customers via the telephone. The My Cybertwin conversational technology might not be good enough to pass a full-on Turing test, but it was a step ahead of most of the chatbots that were available via the Internet at the time.
If the mainstream economists are correct, there is no economic cataclysm on a societal level due to automation in the offing. However, today we are entering an era where humans can, with growing ease, be designed in or out of “the loop,” even in formerly high-status, high-income, white-collar professional areas. On one end of the spectrum smart robots can load and unload trucks. On the other end, software “robots” are replacing call center workers and office clerks, as well as transforming high-skill, high-status professions such as radiology. In the future, how will the line be drawn between man and machine, and who will draw it? Despite the growing debate over the consequences of the next generation of automation, there has been very little discussion about the designers and their values. When pressed, the computer scientists, roboticists, and technologists offer conflicting views.
Although her company would later go public in Australia, she left in 2005, along with her business partner, John Zakos, a bright Australian AI researcher enamored since his teenage years with the idea of building chatbots. Together they built My Cybertwin into a business selling FAQbot technology to companies like banks and insurance companies. These bots would give website users relevant answers to their frequently asked questions about products and services. It proved to be a great way for companies to inexpensively offer personalized information to their customers, saving money by avoiding customer call center staffing and telephony costs. At the time, however, the technology was not yet mature. Though the company had some initial business success, My Cybertwin also had competitors, so Capper looked for ways to expand into new markets. They tried to turn My Cybertwin into a program that created a software avatar that would interact with other people over the Internet, even while its owner was offline.
Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization by Parag Khanna
1919 Motor Transport Corps convoy, 2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, 9 dash line, additive manufacturing, Admiral Zheng, affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Basel III, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, borderless world, Boycotts of Israel, Branko Milanovic, BRICs, British Empire, business intelligence, call centre, capital controls, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, complexity theory, continuation of politics by other means, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, data is the new oil, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deglobalization, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, Detroit bankruptcy, digital map, diversification, Doha Development Round, edge city, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, energy security, ethereum blockchain, European colonialism, eurozone crisis, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, family office, Ferguson, Missouri, financial innovation, financial repression, fixed income, forward guidance, global supply chain, global value chain, global village, Google Earth, Hernando de Soto, high net worth, Hyperloop, ice-free Arctic, if you build it, they will come, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, industrial cluster, industrial robot, informal economy, Infrastructure as a Service, interest rate swap, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, Julian Assange, Just-in-time delivery, Kevin Kelly, Khyber Pass, Kibera, Kickstarter, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, LNG terminal, low cost carrier, manufacturing employment, mass affluent, mass immigration, megacity, Mercator projection, Metcalfe’s law, microcredit, mittelstand, Monroe Doctrine, mutually assured destruction, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, off grid, offshore financial centre, oil rush, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, openstreetmap, out of africa, Panamax, Parag Khanna, Peace of Westphalia, peak oil, Pearl River Delta, Peter Thiel, Philip Mirowski, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post-oil, post-Panamax, private military company, purchasing power parity, QWERTY keyboard, race to the bottom, Rana Plaza, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Scramble for Africa, Second Machine Age, sharing economy, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, smart cities, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spice trade, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, sustainable-tourism, TaskRabbit, telepresence, the built environment, The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, transaction costs, UNCLOS, uranium enrichment, urban planning, urban sprawl, WikiLeaks, young professional, zero day
Collectively, Rio, BHP, and Vale tacitly share an interest in surging production at the risk of creating global oversupply so they can squeeze out smaller players (including those in China) and maintain a big-three cartel that has greater price-setting leverage over China. While China resists such maneuvers, it also knows that the only way to neutralize Australia’s alliance with America is to make it a supply chain ally. Tug-of-war is just as fierce higher up the value chain. The Eastwood City Cyberpark in Manila is home to a bustling high-rise cluster of offices with thirty thousand call center workers varying their shifts by the global time zone they serve—much the same way as the Indian call center workers in Bangalore used to do before the Filipinos took their business. The intense competition among circuit nodes is a reminder that the global economy shapes how we work more than geography or daylight. The former Citicorp CEO Walter Wriston once wrote, “Time zones matter more than borders,”5 and indeed some economists have recently proposed that the United States reduce to just two time zones.6 If horizontal tug-of-war is resource mercantilism, then vertical tug-of-war is innovation mercantilism: grabbing the most technologically sophisticated and financially profitable segments of strategic industries.
India is making the most of Sri Lanka’s growing suspicion of China. With Chinese-built infrastructure, Sri Lanka has already made big gains in tourism and exports of textiles, garments, and tea. Now India can leverage China’s infrastructure to more efficiently deliver its own projects for Sri Lanka, from railways to housing, and use the island as a reliable back office and outsourcing site for call centers and car part assembly for the huge south Indian market of 300 million people. The Indian Ocean is once again the epicenter of competitive connectivity. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, India’s coastal kingdoms haggled with European colonial merchants to get the most favorable terms for carrying their goods to far-off markets. But whereas Sri Lanka became a European colony from the fifteenth century onward, this time it is prepared to resist any Chinese overextension beyond the projects that are mutually beneficial—armed with Chinese weapons.
Investors are willing to go into SEZs for low-cost labor and protection from regulatory hassles, while governments need foreign investment to create jobs and train workers, import technology and skills, and provide a demonstration effect for the rest of the economy. So far, it has proven to be a win-win combination: Sacrifice some sovereignty in order to become a productive member of the supply chain world. In the 1980s and 1990s, a new wave of industrial parks and technology clusters that focused on higher-value areas such as call centers, software programming, and logistics management emerged in both developed and developing countries. Their role models were America’s already established Stanford Research Park in Palo Alto and Research Triangle Park in North Carolina (which also became a foreign trade zone in the 1980s). Bangalore and Hyderabad, today India’s IT jewels, benefited from diaspora talent, investment from multinationals such as Texas Instruments, and support from a new agency called Software Technology Parks of India.
The Fissured Workplace by David Weil
accounting loophole / creative accounting, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, banking crisis, barriers to entry, business process, call centre, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, Clayton Christensen, clean water, collective bargaining, commoditize, corporate governance, corporate raider, Corrections Corporation of America, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, declining real wages, employer provided health coverage, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, George Akerlof, global supply chain, global value chain, hiring and firing, income inequality, information asymmetry, intermodal, inventory management, Jane Jacobs, Kenneth Rogoff, law of one price, loss aversion, low skilled workers, minimum wage unemployment, moral hazard, Network effects, new economy, occupational segregation, Paul Samuelson, performance metric, pre–internet, price discrimination, principal–agent problem, Rana Plaza, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, Ronald Coase, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, statistical model, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Nature of the Firm, transaction costs, ultimatum game, union organizing, women in the workforce, Y2K, yield management
“Managing in an Age of Modularity.” Harvard Business Review 75, no. 5: 84–93. Barthélemy, Jérôme. 2001. “The Hidden Costs of IT Outsourcing.” MIT Sloan Management Review 42, no. 3: 60–69. Batt, Rosemary, David Holman, and Ursula Holtgrewe. 2009. “The Globalization of Service Work: Comparative Institutional Perspectives on Call Centers.” Industrial and Labor Relations Review 62, no. 4: 453–487. Batt, Rosemary, and Hiroatsu Nohara. 2009. “How Institutions and Business Strategies Affect Wages: A Cross National Study of Call Centers.” Industrial and Labor Relations Review 62, no. 4: 533–552. Bebchuk, Lucian, and Jesse Fried. 2004. Pay without Performance: The Unfulfilled Promise of Executive Compensation. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Becker, Gary. 1964. Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education.
This strategy led companies to focus their key strategies and attention on the development of brands and strong customer identification with the company’s goods or services; on building the capacity to introduce new products or designs; or on implementing true economies of scale or scope in production and operation. Activities outside of this core were shifted away. As a result, companies outsourced customer relations to third-party call centers; manufacturers shifted production to networks of subcontractors for subassemblies; and private, public, and nonprofit organizations contracted out everything from cleaning and janitorial services to payroll and human resource functions. Shedding Employment By focusing on core competencies, lead businesses in the economy have shed the employment relationship for many activities, and all that comes with it.
The same technologic and information systems that made outsourcing possible, combined with the reduction of many international trade restrictions, such as quotas and tariffs, enabled offshoring to expand rapidly as a source of intermediate products for manufacturers or as a source for more and more final products for retailers.22 In more recent years, digital technologies and the growth of higher-level skills in India, China, and elsewhere led to similar offshoring in service industries—in areas ranging from call centers to software engineering. Outsourcing and offshoring have also been a growing topic of popular debate in the past decade and featured prominently in the presidential campaign of 2012. Offshoring has drawn particular attention because of its perceived impacts on wages and employment of U.S. workers directly affected by it. A New York Times report in 2012 found that 86% of those surveyed said buying products in the United States was “very or somewhat important to them,” and that 58% believed that “a lot” of unemployment is caused by products sold by U.S. companies being manufactured abroad.23 Outsourcing and offshoring share a fundamental characteristic with other organizational forms that create fissured workplaces: they entail a lead company focusing on a core area of competency and shedding activities (manufacturing and assembly) to other businesses, all the while ensuring that technical, quality, and delivery standards are rigorously adhered to by those subordinate suppliers.
In Spite of the Gods: The Rise of Modern India by Edward Luce
affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Bretton Woods, call centre, centre right, clean water, colonial rule, crony capitalism, cuban missile crisis, demographic dividend, energy security, financial independence, friendly fire, Gini coefficient, Haight Ashbury, informal economy, job-hopping, land reform, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Wolf, megacity, new economy, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, purchasing power parity, Silicon Valley, trade liberalization, upwardly mobile, uranium enrichment, urban planning, women in the workforce, working-age population, Y2K
Most British he disliked, he said apologetically, because of what they had done to India, because they always did things differently, like driving on the left and refusing to join European monetary union, and because they always acted so superior. “India will take the world to a higher plane,” he said. “Everybody should understand that—even the British.” I could not help liking him. • • • Powerful new images have emerged of India in the last ten or so years, fed mostly by its success in information technology and offshore call centers, the growing reach of Bollywood abroad—popularized in part by the increasing wealth and visibility of Indian communities in the United States, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere—and by India’s much-analyzed nuclear weapons program, which was first openly declared in 1998. In the same way that viewing India through a purely religious lens often distorts one’s view of the country—and can lead to a basic misreading of what is happening—these new images can also mislead.
When I asked for the bathroom I was pointed to a door with a placard that says “gentstogo.com.” And when I asked him whether this work is intellectually challenging enough for him, Alok replied: “Wow! That is an awesome question!” He never really answered it. Yet the world of which Alok is a part (admittedly a relatively privileged part)—of the Internet, of information technology, of software maintenance, and of call centers, back-office processing units, and research and development hubs—is in other respects very serious. The success of India’s IT companies in attracting ever more impressive flows of offshore business from the United States and Europe has reverberations way beyond the air-conditioned offices of IT companies in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Delhi, or Mumbai. That success has convinced skeptics across India, who were raised in a culture of what economists called “export pessimism”—a consequence of Nehru’s swadeshi philosophy—that Indian companies can, after all, compete and make profits in the global markets.
During my time in India I have often been amused by the foreign executives I have met who spend years occupying the same hotel rooms while they await the green light for their company to invest in India so that they can set up a permanent office. The fact that they are prepared to wait so long is an indication of how important the Indian market is to the global strategy of most U.S. and European corporations. In 2005 GE, which kick-started India’s offshore boom in the late 1980s when it set up its first Indian call center near Delhi, launched an Indian bank. GE said it anticipated “indefinite” double-digit growth in the Indian banking market over the coming decades. No one blinked. The fact that India has so far to travel makes it an especially attractive long-term prospect to many foreign investors. In Alok—and the many entrepreneurs like him in booming urban India—the global multinationals have an energetic ally.
Airbnb, always be closing, bounce rate, call centre, carbon footprint, commoditize, Deng Xiaoping, financial independence, follow your passion, income inequality, iterative process, Ralph Waldo Emerson, search engine result page, Skype, software as a service, South China Sea, Steve Jobs
Now it’s possible to hire, manage and coordinate teams of specialists in different countries and time zones via online platforms that enable a wide array of business functions. With little more than well-defined job requirements, you can connect with service providers around the world to act as virtual departments within your business. This goes well beyond simply “outsourcing a call center”, as that assumes there was a domestic call center beforehand… What we are interested in here is taking advantage of the 21st century Internet economy to design new business models. There is something innately fun in doing business this way and as a by-product you come to learn a little about different cultures and geographies as well as who specializes in what, and where. I’ve found great graphic designers in Kosovo and Argentina, solid programmers in Ukraine and India and of course agile manufacturers and logistics coordinators in China and Hong Kong.
USB Superstore has two clear calls-to-action on their homepage: 1) Submit a quote request 2) Call a toll-free number The primary focus is to drive sales In many cases, you can type the script that the listener will hear directly into the IVR along with the numbers to route calls to. If no one is available, the caller can leave a message, which is then sent as an mp3 audio file, via email, to the appropriate person. The recipient can listen to the audio file right from their workstation and call back when time permits. Although we’ve all had at least one frustrating call center experience, they are very efficient from a business owner’s perspective and can be very clear and succinct. The goal here is not to give potential customers the runaround via automated voice menus, but rather to get them in touch with the Sales Team as quickly as possible. Having a toll-free number and an IVR lends an aura of legitimacy to your business, even if the calls are being routed to your home phone line in the early stages.
Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Charlene Li, Josh Bernoff
business process, call centre, centre right, citizen journalism, crowdsourcing, demand response, Donald Trump, estate planning, Firefox, John Markoff, knowledge worker, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Tony Hsieh
This is the groundswell supporting itself, and it’s the topic of this chapter. traditional support versus groundswell support Supporting customers is a burden. Once you buy a typical consumer product, the company doesn’t want to hear from you. If you call, it means something is going wrong. An average call to a company’s call center costs $6 or $7 when you include all the costs, according to Elizabeth Herrell, Forrester’s expert on contact centers. Technical support calls cost around twice that: $10 to $20. This adds up. Companies that do telephone support spend billions of dollars to run those call centers. The quest to reduce those support costs has driven two of the huge trends in corporate America in the past ten years. First, starting in the late 1990s, companies recognized they could send people to their Web sites for information. The result was the Web self-service revolution, in which companies put massive amounts of product and problem-solving information online and encouraged customers to use it.
If an English-speaking engineer in India or the Philippines could answer questions as well as an American or a Brit, why not send the calls there? As of this writing, compensation for overseas telephone staff runs about 40 percent lower than the same staff in the United States—and most of the costs of those calls are staff costs. Based on these cost savings, 3.4 million American jobs and 1.2 million European jobs are likely to go offshore by 2015, many of them jobs in call centers.3 But are those calls any better at helping people? Don’t you dread calling support on the phone and navigating those interactive voice response systems? The problem isn’t whether the person on the other end is in India or Ireland; it’s whether he or she can actually help. And as for Web self-service—sure, we all try it, but the results are hit or miss. Even as companies pursued these shifts to save money, people frustrated with the long waits, hit-or-miss quality, and paperwork associated with support for their products developed a new source of information—each other.
In a recent study of cancer patients by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health: See “The USA Today/Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health National Survey of Households Affected by Cancer,” November 2006, available at http://forr.com/gsw8-2. 3. 3.4 million American jobs and 1.2 million European jobs will go offshore by 2015, many of them jobs in call centers: This estimate of American jobs going overseas comes from the May 14, 2004, Forrester report “Near-Term Growth Of Offshoring Accelerating” by John McCarthy, available at http://forr.com/gsw8-3a. The European estimate comes from the August 18, 2004, Forrester report “Two-Speed Europe: Why 1 Million Jobs Will Move Offshore” by Andrew Parker, available at http://forr.com/gsw8-3b. 4. You might post this query on Dell’s community forum (www.dellcommunity.com): This thread is visible to Dell community forum members at http://forr.com/gsw8-4. 5.
The fortune at the bottom of the pyramid by C. K. Prahalad
barriers to entry, business process, call centre, cashless society, clean water, collective bargaining, corporate social responsibility, deskilling, disintermediation, farmers can use mobile phones to check market prices, financial intermediation, Hernando de Soto, hiring and firing, income inequality, information asymmetry, late fees, Mahatma Gandhi, market fragmentation, microcredit, new economy, profit motive, purchasing power parity, rent-seeking, shareholder value, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, time value of money, transaction costs, wealth creators, working poor
Our aim was to move from physical branch banking to virtual banking. Block by block we slowly built up a clicks-and-mortar strategy.”18 This progressive and imaginative use of technology was a vital key to ICICI’s ability to serve the BOP profitably. ICICI Bank: Innovations in Finance 295 COPS Internet 7% 5% Call Center 6% Jan. 2002 Branch 35% ATM 47% Branch ATM Cash Jan. ’02 Transactions Apr. ’01 18% 19% 82% 81% Non-Cash Jan. ’02 Transactions Apr. ’01 41% 50% 33% 39% Call Centers Internet COPS Nil Nil 9% 6% 7% 5% 10% Nil Figure 2 ICICI’s channel usage. Source: http://r0.unctad.org/ecommerce/event_docs/monterey/ mor-icici-india-EFfD.ppt. ICICI also was a new entrant to retail banking. ICICI started retail banking under a new and changing regulatory regime that was decidedly more marketbased than before.
Reducing Corruption: Transaction Governance Capacity Appendix: List of eSeva Services Payment of utility bills Electricity Water and sewerage Telephone bills Property tax Filing of CST returns Filing of A2 returns of APGST Filing of AA9 returns of APGST Collection of examination fee Filing of IT returns of salaried class Sale of prepaid parking tickets Permits and licenses Renewal of trade licenses Change of address of a vehicle owner Transfer of ownership of a vehicle Issue of driving licenses Renewal of driving licenses (nontransport vehicles) Registration of new vehicles Quarterly tax payments of autos Quarterly tax payments of goods vehicles Lifetime tax payments of new vehicles Certificates Registration of birth Registration of death Issue of birth certificates Issue of death certificates Internet services Internet-enabled electronic payments Downloading of forms and government orders Reservations and other services Reservation of APSRTC bus tickets Reservation of water tanker Filing of passport applications Sale of nonjudicial stamps Sale of trade license applications Sale of National Games tickets Sale of entry tickets for WTA Sale of EAMCET applications Business to Consumer (B2C) services Collection of telephone bill payments Sale of new AirTel prepaid phone cards Top up/recharge of AirTel Magic cards Sale of entry tickets for Tollywood Star cricket Sale of entry tickets for Cricket match (RWSO) Filing of Reliance CDMA mobile phone connections ■ ■ ■ ■ Railway reservation Sale of movie tickets Payment of traffic-related offenses Payment of degree examination fees of O.U. 97 98 ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid Sale of I-CET applications Online reservation of Tirupati Temple tickets Collection of bill payments of Idea Cellular Collection of bill payments of HUTCH Issue of encumbrance certificate Market value assistance General insurance Reservation of tourism tickets for accommodation Reservation of tourism bus tickets Call center Indian Airlines ticket reservation Life insurance premium payment Issue of caste certificates Sale of Indira Vikas Patra ATM services Collection of bill payments of Air Tel Renewal of drug licenses Issue of bus passes Collection of trade licenses of Labor Department 6 Development as Social Transformation W e have looked at the BOP as a viable and profitable growth market. We have also understood that treating the BOP as a market can lead to poverty reduction, particularly if NGOs and community groups can join with MNCs and local companies as business partners.
Second, the rapid growth also creates new distribution demands. Monitoring thousands of drivers, damages to merchandise, turnover, and attending to customer demands for more accurate delivery time forecasting are not trivial. Finally, controlling the default level might be the key challenge for Casas Bahia. The company opened a centralized call and collection center to address this challenge. Since consolidating more than 300 call center employees from all stores, collections recovery has increased 100 percent. Casas Bahia must develop a process whereby it can maintain or reduce its current default rate while continuing with its plan of rapid expansion. Another threat is the increasing competition of large hypermarts. It is unclear whether or not those chains will develop the capability to serve the BOP with any significant presence.
Beautiful Testing: Leading Professionals Reveal How They Improve Software (Theory in Practice) by Adam Goucher, Tim Riley
Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, Black Swan, call centre, continuous integration, Debian, Donald Knuth, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, Grace Hopper, index card, Isaac Newton, natural language processing, p-value, performance metric, revision control, six sigma, software as a service, software patent, the scientific method, Therac-25, Valgrind, web application
On some projects, UAT is little more than a formality, but on this project (and all of the projects I’ve worked on since dealing with call-center support software), UAT was central to go-live decisions. To that point, Susan, a call-center shift manager and UAT lead for this project, had veto authority over any decision about what was released into production and when. The feature aspects of UAT went as expected. There were some minor revisions to be made, but nothing unreasonable or overly difficult to implement. The feedback that had us all confused and concerned was that every single user acceptance tester mentioned—with greater or lesser vehemence—something about the application being “slow” or “taking too long.” Obviously we were concerned, because there is nothing that makes a call-center representative’s day worse than having to listen to frustrated customers’ colorful epithets when told, “Thank you for your patience, our system is a little slow today.”
COLLABORATION IS THE CORNERSTONE OF BEAUTIFUL PERFORMANCE TESTING 47 It Can’t Be the Network As it turned out, the eVersity project was canceled before the application made it into production (and by canceled, I mean that client just called one day to tell us that their entire division had been eliminated), so we never got a chance to see how accurate our performance testing had been. On the bright side, it meant that the team was available for the client-server to Web call-center conversion project that showed up a couple of weeks later. The first several months of the project were uneventful from a performance testing perspective. Sam and the rest of the developers kept me in the loop from the beginning. Jim, the client VP who commissioned the project, used to be a mainframe developer who specialized in performance, so we didn’t have any trouble with the contract or deliverables definitions related to performance, and the historical system usage was already documented for us.
It took me fewer than 10 minutes to explain that when the user acceptance testers said “slow,” they didn’t mean response time; they meant that the design of the application was slowing down their ability to do their jobs. My time on the project was pretty much done by then, so I don’t know what the redeveloped UI eventually looked like, but Sam told me that they had a lot more interaction with Susan and her user acceptance testers thereafter, and that they were thrilled with the application when it went live. For a performance tester, there are few things as beautiful as call-center representatives who are happy with an application you have tested. 50 CHAPTER FOUR Wrap-Up In this chapter, I’ve shared with you a series of formative episodes in my evolution as a performance tester. The fact that these are real stories from real projects that I worked on, and the fact that they were sequential over approximately 14 months, only makes them more powerful. Several years ago, I learned a technique called critical incident analysis that can be used to identify common principles used on or applied to complex tasks, such as performance testing.
asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, big-box store, call centre, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, fixed income, housing crisis, Maui Hawaii, money market fund, mortgage debt, naked short selling, NetJets, shareholder value, short selling, Shoshana Zuboff, Skype, too big to fail, Y2K
Meetings were held in conference rooms with the door closed, rather than in the shared areas that WaMu had created when it built the skyscraper. Everyone avoided the bank’s cubes, the tall, echoing “shower stalls” that could transmit noise across the room. At the FDIC in Washington, a representative in the agency’s call center e-mailed one of Bair’s deputies with an update at the end of the day. “The FDIC call center received 233 inquiries from WaMu customers concerned about the safety of their deposits. Call center staff indicated the volume was steady and the callers appeared to be very concerned.” That evening the three men most responsible for the country’s financial system—Treasury secretary Hank Paulson, New York Fed chairman Tim Geithner, and Fed chairman Ben Bernanke—delivered an ultimatum to a group of Wall Street bankers who had been instructed to gather at the Fed’s offices in lower Manhattan.
“Even if he had downtime and he was home, he was constantly looking for projects to do or things that needed to be taken care of.” As Killinger worked on the Great Western deal, he and Debbie were in the middle of renovating the kitchen. Executives at the bank, calling with some concern or another about the merger, heard hammers banging in the background during the conversation. Killinger once drove to the opening of one of Washington Mutual’s new call centers with dirt under his fingernails, although this was unusual. Killinger cared strongly about appearances. They bought the house for $215,000 in 1983. By 2008, it was valued at about $2 million. Even when the Killingers had finished remodeling, however, the house looked respectable but average. It was the kind of house you might find in any upper-middle-class neighborhood. The walls were painted white with the occasional piece of framed art, mostly reprints.
After WaMu failed, Fay Chapman had called Pepper at his home north of Seattle. She had suffered the same kind of devastation that beset Pepper, and she didn’t think she could just sit around and stew about it. On the phone, the two devised a plan to raise money for the hundreds of workers who they knew would soon lose their jobs. Specifically, they wanted to help the people working in WaMu’s call centers or its branches across the country—the ones working for less than $25 an hour. It would be known as the WaMu Alumni Fund. Other former WaMu executives joined the effort. Pepper wrote a long e-mail to the bank’s employees, explaining the group’s plans. Over the years, he had written many letters about the bank. This last one was almost a eulogy, the only kind of closure that the employees would ever receive.
additive manufacturing, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, bilateral investment treaty, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, colonial rule, conceptual framework, corporate governance, creative destruction, crony capitalism, deskilling, disintermediation, don't be evil, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, income per capita, intangible asset, intermodal, invisible hand, job-hopping, Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, liberation theology, Martin Wolf, mega-rich, megacity, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, new economy, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, open borders, open economy, Peace of Westphalia, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price mechanism, price stability, private military company, profit maximization, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, The Nature of the Firm, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks, World Values Survey, zero-sum game
It breeds skepticism and mistrust of any authority, and an unwillingness to take any distribution of power for granted. One of the best examples of all three revolutions simultaneously at work is the Indian outsourcing industry. Young, educated Indians who belong to the country’s burgeoning middle class have flocked to work at urban call centers and other business process outsourcing (BPO) companies, which in 2011 generated $59 billion in revenue and directly and indirectly employed almost 10 million Indians.39 As Shehzad Nadeem observed in Dead Ringers, his study of the impact of Indian call centers on their workers, “The identities and aspirations of the ICT [information and communications technology] workforce are defined increasingly with reference to the West. . . . Radical in their rejection of old values, conspicuous in their consumption, workers construct an image of the West that is used to benchmark India’s progress toward modernity.” 40 Although the jobs pay relatively well, they plunge young Indians into a welter of contradictions and competing aspirations—that is, aspirations to succeed in an Indian social and economic context while sublimating their cultural identities with fake accents and names and dealing with abuse and exploitation at the hands of affluent customers in a different continent.
Radical in their rejection of old values, conspicuous in their consumption, workers construct an image of the West that is used to benchmark India’s progress toward modernity.” 40 Although the jobs pay relatively well, they plunge young Indians into a welter of contradictions and competing aspirations—that is, aspirations to succeed in an Indian social and economic context while sublimating their cultural identities with fake accents and names and dealing with abuse and exploitation at the hands of affluent customers in a different continent. For young urban Indian women in particular, the jobs have provided opportunities and economic benefits that they might otherwise not have had, leading to lasting changes in behavior that are upending cultural norms. Never mind the lurid newspaper article that talked about call centers as “a part of India where freedom knows no bounds, love is a favourite pastime, and sex is recreation.” Closer to the mark would be a recent survey by India’s Associated Chambers of Commerce that young working married women in Indian cities are increasingly choosing to put off having children in favor of developing their careers.41 67 REVOLUTIONARY CONSEQUENCES: UNDERMINING THE BARRIERS TO POWER Plenty of events would seem to suggest that things have not changed all that much, that micropowers are an anomaly, and, ultimately, that big power can and will continue to call the shots.
Another violation of the axioms of scale and scope lies in the ability to set up a remote operation to perform services that once would not have been contracted out at all, let alone across long distances. Consider the activities encompassed under the rubric of “outsourcing.” At first, this simply meant contracting with outside vendors for materials or sending goods away for assembly or some other phase in the manufacturing chain. Then outsourcing spread to 150 services—initially, the lower-skilled services like basic accounting or call centers for fielding basic customer issues. But now, the scope of outsourcing extends to telemedicine—doctors who issue diagnoses or laboratory experts who process tests or accountants in India who file tax returns for US companies. A constellation of small firms whose geographic location is an increasingly less relevant factor turns out to be capable of delivering specialty and knowledge-intensive services at lower cost but equal quality to the in-house shops painstakingly cultivated by the old industry giants.
Lenders purchased computer systems for the schools and even put college financial aid officers on their advisory boards to curry favor. Lenders set up funds and lines of credit for schools to use in exchange for putting the banks on their preferred lender list and for the colleges dropping out of the direct federal loan program, which was designed to provide low-interest loans to students. In addition, colleges allowed lenders to set up call centers that directed calls from parents to the college about student aid directly to the lenders’ call centers, where the people who answered the phone pretended to be college employees. They were actually salesmen from the loan companies. Why bother with the government loans and all those forms, parents were told, when the predatory lenders here can do all the work for you? Here’s their number for you to call. The lenders then completed the fleecing of parents by getting them to sign up for student loan money that went directly from the lenders to the colleges, with the parents getting stuck with the bill.
While the 2010 changes to the federal student loan program will help this problem by increasing Pell grants to low-income students and reducing the payments for student loans, the bloated costs of higher education will remain a significant problem until they are dealt with by college administra