We are witnessing the end of an era. Since the end of the World War 2, large companies have controlled the ebb and flow of the US economy: from the reign of the Detroit automakers to the rise of west coast tech moguls like Microsoft and Google. Small businesses have been the tiny vessels tossed in the wake of gargantuan tankers, forcing their products on consumers through sheer bulk.
The tides are changing though- the failing American economy has exposed the incapability of big business, spotlighting bullheaded corporate practices and broken supply chains. The changing times have given way to opportunities for smaller businesses to navigate the economic waters through nascent, cost-effective technologies. Unlike the slow moving behemoths of old, start-ups have the ability to rapidly change direction and adapt to newly minted consumer demands. Young companies now have access to a plethora of new tools that utilize the internet to minimize costs and maximize efficiency.
One sector that highlights this onset of change between big and small is in the hiring arena. A recent New York Times article zoned in on the big corporations of Silicon Valley, and how a 'code of honor' existed between several companies towards acquiring each other's talent. This unwritten pact between several large companies essentially directs their recruiters to stay away from hiring one-another's star players.
From the New York Times
Some veteran human resources executives said that hiring was not so much the issue; employees are free to look for work pretty much anywhere. But they say major companies often have an unwritten agreement to not actively poach employees from their partners.
“Most companies have a hands-off list,” said Ken Perluss, who recently left Yahoo as director for talent acquisition after more than 11 years with the company. “It tells recruiters, ‘Don’t recruit from this company. They are our partner.’ ”
These questionable practices have been observed to such an extent that several companies are currently under the watchful eye of the Justice Department for 'anti-competitive' practices. If such practices are actually occurring, where does this leave smaller businesses who could utilize such star talent to an even greater degree? In the Silicon Valley tech scene, one great mind could make the difference between a start-up succeeding or failing. Top level engineers are more likely thrive in innovative start-up environments than in corporate organizational hierarchies that often stifle creativity.
Small tech companies are already threatening larger ones through the development of innovative, viral, and cost-effective online applications. It was only a few years ago that Facebook and Twitter were still specks on the map. It is probable that larger tech companies are attempting to keep the recruiting advantage on their court through 'gentleman's agreements' that prevents the transfer of talent to the next generation of Facebooks.
Small businesses and start-ups alike posses the technology to counter-balance these big-business-pacts. New, simple and cutting-edge hiring software solutions allow small businesses to find and manage the best talent in the business. In the days of old, providing a recruiting solution that adeptly encompassed recruiter collaboration, seamless applicant management, and easy online access would cost an arm and a leg. Today's business class tools walk the path of consumer Web 2.0 applications that are meant to promote simplicity and collaboration at a reasonable price point. Newton Software is one such solution which can allow small businesses to compete with larger corporations in acquiring the best talent on the market.
There are a plethora of other online tools that smaller business have begun to utilize to maximize their efficiency- from collaboration tools like Basecamp to data storage applications like Dropbox. Even within large corporations like Google and Microsoft- external applications have begun to take off to bolster intra-company collaboration networks.
It would be naive to say big business will simply disappear into the night, suddenly replaced by a multitude of hungry young successors. The climate will be sure to shift though: economic and technological progress will freeze the mammoths of industry and provide sure-footing for the smaller innovators. Perhaps one such innovator will be our next Prometheus, armed with the fire of technology to light the way for the future.