The professional service firm: threat or menace?

The Competitive Threat of Public Clouds by Rodrigo Flores describes the pressure internal departments face to live up to the standards set by outside, public service firms:

IT operations groups are going to be increasingly evaluated against the service and customer satisfaction levels provided by public clouds. One day soon, the CFO may walk into the data center and ask, “What is the cost per hour for internal infrastructure, how do IT operations costs compare to public clouds, and which service levels do IT operations provide?” That day will happen this year.

Tom "Re-Imagine!" Peters is calling these agile and toughened departments professional service firms (PSFs), and encourages the right-out provision of standardized services not only to other internal departments, but – in the ideal, and arguably radical, case – to the outside world, too.

Of course, such opening up to external competition can lead to a real improvement in service quality – comparable with open source software. Like crowdsourcing and open source software, though, I imagine that this will also drive down the revenues achievable by (some) workers – comparable to how operating systems and compilers are today often gratis.

The professional service firm model seems somewhat unavoidable, yet I still ask myself whether its clear benefits for (internal as well as external) customers outweigh its potential drawbacks for workers. Maybe the PSF proletariat needs a new Das Kapital.

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