'Business Colonies' May Redefine MedTech Jobs

Recent high-profile layoffs at Boston Scientific and Smith & Nephew, for example, have sent medtech professionals back into the job market in droves. But that job market—and the very concept of a job and workplace—may be on the verge of a dramatic makeover, according to noted futurist and MD&M West keynote speaker, Thomas Frey.

“We’re becoming a much more project-based environment,” Frey said in his keynote speech on Tuesday. “The Internet is allowing us to align the needs of a business with the talents of individuals in far more precise ways than ever in the past.”

This cultural shift, Frey said, will give rise to the establishment of business colonies at many major corporations. In this model, project managers will seek out specialized resources and bring them on only long enough to fulfill the specific needs of a particular project, whether that’s for two hours, two months, or two years. Frey likened this model to that of the film industry in which people with various areas of expertise—acting, directing, makeup, set design, wardrobe—coalesce around a movie project and then disband, ultimately moving on to their respective next projects.

“I think a lot of major companies are going to set up business colonies outside of the corporate walls and lob projects over there as an experiment to test things out,” Frey predicted. If this approach proves successful, the conventional workplace will migrate from the current staffing and resource model to a network of independent contractors.

“The average person today that turns 30 in the United States has had 11 different jobs,” Frey noted. “My prediction is that the average 30-year-old just 10 years from now will have worked 200 to 300 different projects.”

Shana Leonard is executive editor of the UBM Canon MedTech Group.

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