December 08, 2000, 2:14 PM — A REVOLVING DOOR SPINS in a crowded office building at lunchtime. It's an apt
metaphor for how managers feel about hiring and retaining employees in the Internet
economy: The rate of turnover is out of control, employees are always one step ahead,
and the way out gets rapidly confused with the way in, so that eventually you feel you
are just along for the ride.
Welcome to the world of e-business. For staffing managers, it's an unforgiving
environment that differs from the traditional economy precisely because of that
dizzying, uncontrolled pace. The same e-business forces that shift power from sellers
to buyers and employers to employees also reassign power from recruiters to candidates.
Today's job candidates are in the driver's seat. They know more about the
opportunity, they are better informed about their value in the marketplace, and they
are more demanding on every level. The best candidates have multiple offers and are
well aware of the costs of signing on with a company that has a suspect business model.
To protect themselves, top candidates today want to know how well the opportunity you
are offering is aligned with the macro forces shaping the networked economy.
The following seven organizational rules have been made possible by the growth of
the Internet as a business tool. As a whole, these rules define the direction of the
networked economy today. Your company should be able to foresee how each rule will
change its business proposition and its target market and should be able to explain to
prospective employees how the company will adapt to the changing business landscape.
1. All advantage is temporary
Job candidates are no longer impressed by technological advantage because they know
how easy it is to duplicate. For example, OnSale originated the auction model for
selling surplus electronic equipment but quickly lost dominance when eBay and others
used a similar dynamic pricing auction model.
How does one create advantage in the networked economy? As organizations entered
the Internet Age, their mistake was to assume that the Internet by itself could drive
sustainable competitive advantage. It doesn't work that way, even though some Net
initiatives have created enormous value.
Relying on technology to generate competitive advantage is counterproductive for
many reasons. The practice places far too much emphasis on technology at a time when
technology can be duplicated quickly and easily. And aiming toward competitive
advantage misses the point. Competitive advantage should be the result of something
much more basic: offering customers a product or service that saves them time, makes
their lives easier, or enriches their relationships. Companies derive advantage from
doing those things well.