I’m struck by three powerfully disruptive influences on staffing software and the recruitment space.  The first is mobile.  The second is the web.  And the third is distributed database technology.

These forces are affecting other industries as well, however, competition makes recruitment among the first to embrace disruption.  Only the oldest of industries  (like, um, gambling and pornography – notice how quickly Twitter’s new video service, Vine, got blitzed by the pornographers) move faster than we do in recruitment.

If we’re not faster, better, and cheaper, clients will just take things into their own hands.


Mobile gets a lot of media attention, and so it should.  For decades we’ve had computers – beginning with the mainframes – that required substantial investment and ongoing maintenance.  Big companies could afford computers. They had the edge. The minicomputer and then the PC democratized things somewhat, but still business and government largely decided what technology you would use.

Now consumers have taken control.  They have tasted freedom, and they will never let go.  The enterprise control freaks no longer have a say in the matter. Mobile devices will soon number in the billions.

Everyone from the CEO to the Kenyan farm boy picks whatever device he wants. And they’re all demanding that we service them via that mobile device.

And if you’ve watched Apple’s stock price lately, you know just how fickle these buyers are. Androids like the Nexus4 make the iPhone feel like a cathode ray tube. And tomorrow’s hottest device may well be a Windows8 phone or even harder to believe, the Blackberry BB10. How does the song go, Don’t Blink?

Low prices. Great devices. Huge competition. All that leaves an insatiable demand for services -- cloud-based services for those mobile devices. We’re talking Web.


By ‘web’ I’m including both installed apps (custom browsers, is what they are) like those that install on your iPad to browser-based apps that dish out html. The disruption at every turn is impacting recruitment in a big way. Your next crop of job candidates is more likely to find you on their phone than from their desktop browser (if they have one).

HTML5, hyped beyond belief, was actually not hyped enough. Few of us older developers had any idea that a supporting cast of web tools – css, js, model binders, json editors, jquery, fiddler, web apis, debuggers, Typescript, device emulators -- would improve as fast as they have. Some argue that these tools have won out over html, that their capabilities are what will make the web of tomorrow. Just stick a single html tag in a page and let js do the rest. That may be a strech, but some SPAs – single page apps with tiny amounts of html (albeit tons of CSS and JS) -- do their magic so well you’re easily fooled to into thinking they’re installed apps.

One of the arguments against these new web apps is that they can’t use hardware like a native app. But that is changing fast. One of our lead web devs at Tempworks, Andy Cohen, is using something called SignalR to wire our web apps asynchronously to our phone system. If a call comes in to a support representative, up pops a web page with the customer’s profile.

Distributed Databases

Although the first two items on my list (mobile and web) are pretty familiar themes for anyone in technology or for that matter anyone alive in 2013, my last item is probably less familiar. In fact, in a recently informal poll I did of some software heavies I know, few were familiar with the subject and very few had actually done work on them. Nevertheless, a lot of the cloud services that we’ll be using in the coming decades will be coming from data first served up to a distributed database. The economics of scalability and reliability demand it.

Unlike SQL databases that rely on CRUD (create, read, update, delete) which requires a central store, a distributed database involves multiple, loosely coupled sites. The ones I’ve experimented with store events. You updated a pay rate? That event gets sent to each instance of the distributed database. Creating a new job order? That’s an event that goes to each database. Posting a message to a customer record? Another event to each database.

And if your Paris database goes down, no problem – London will pick up the slack. London down? New York. And so on.

The really cool thing is that you don’t need much money to be a player any more. If you know your way around Amazon’s AWS, Microsoft’s Azure, or any of the many other cloud offerings (Cloudera is one I want to try next), you can get your online service running globally at scale in no time and for less money than my Dad paid for his first NCR minicomputer.


Some 15-year-old in a basement in Iowa or Gabarone is using these three technologies to change the world and maybe recruitment right now. I just need to find her.

Tags: Twitter, TempWorks, Android, News, Andy Cohen, Amazon AWS, Vine, IPad, IPhone, Mobile, Cloud, Windows8, Apps, Blackberry, Cloudera, HTML, Microsoft Azure, Nexus4, SignalR, Web