Commoditization

People turn into commodities, when they are considered as inter-changeable units and when employees are valued equally regardless of their individual talents and abilities.

A good description of commoditization, was given by Thomas L. Friedman who states, "A commodity is any good, service or process that can be produced by any number of firms, and the only distinguishing feature between these firms is who can do it cheapest. Having your product or service turned into a commodity is no fun, because it means your profit margins will become razor thin, you will have dozens of competitors and all you can do is every day make that product or service cheaper and sell more of it than the next guy, or die."

This description can very well be applied to professionals. Technological advancements are one of the factors contributing to commoditization. Today's jobs, or at least elements of today's jobs will be commoditized by tomorrow's advancements in tools & technologies. At this juncture, reflect back on some of the hot jobs of yesteryears, their relevance and importance today. When organizations transform from entrepreneurial innovation & value creation to bureaucratic structures, employees transform from creative innovators to non-creative members who are trained to  operate within processes and structures to think and act in terms of defending what already exists.

In such a situation, what are you doing to differentiate yourself and avoid the commoditization trap ? The smart ones reinvent themselves, are constantly watching the trends, riding the winds of change, taking the opportunities that come along to learn, unlearn and relearn. Importantly, do not assume the value of your current skills will continue to increase or even hold the same level.

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John Morrison

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