How problems can be solved in the digital economy - an experience with Upwork

Anson Chan
Catalyst @ Human Managed
February 14, 2022

The world today works in a way that it's really hard for people to find excuses for not knowing something. You can literally find anything you want with the world wide web. One of the recent experience I had with a platform was something I'd like to share. The experience strengthened my belief in what Human Managed is doing to define the future lifestyle, the way of living for the citizens in the world and is something we should all strive for.

In the old days whenever you have a problem you either try to solve it yourself, or turn to a friend, a colleague, someone you know; in turn they'll introduce you to someone else. The formula is always the same, you're looking for someone that can help you solve a problem which you are handling.

A classic example is matchmaking, the matchmaker has an abundant resources of boys and girls and helps client to find the perfect match!

Well I wasn't really looking for a matchmaking though, I had a trivial problem that I wanted to solve.

I wanted to leverage automation in the quotation process whereby I require access to cloud providers price book. Instead of going into all of the cloud providers' website, pulling pricing one by one, populating a database; I wanted to automate it. And I knew that there is a solution out there that I can imitate, change some variables, mix some codes together, transform the codes into a way that is applicable to my use case, and therefore getting something original.

I'm sure everyone's done it before, we wanted to prepare some meals for our loved ones, we go to YouTube, look at Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, recipes, and follow step by step. I was going to do the same, only to realize the actual YouTube, Gordon Ramsay, Recipes are all in languages that I do not understand, It was GitHub, AWS Price List API, Python, Linux.

Normally, I would either: 1. Give up. 2. Claim that it is outside my domain of interest and leave it, or 3. Go learn each one of the things that I came across (Github, AWS, Cloud, API, Python, Linux). It would take me a very long time and probably I'll fall asleep when the lesson gets to teaching you to run a "hello world" programme.

I wanted a way that I could learn, apply, trial and error. I wanted a "jugaad" way to solve my problem economically (time-wise, and money-wise).

I could hire a "software engineer", put in a contract, give him a problem, and he write up some code for me. I didn't do that. I could go study a bunch of books and fall asleep. I could also just ignore the problem and wait for some smartie to solve it because its probably very trivial to them. It would be very easy to justify such decision in the corporate because "it ain't in my job description", or "spending so much time on this doesn't give me economic benefit, my salary ain't gonna increase", or simply "do it because you enjoy it".

I don't remember the last time I've done something unconditionally because I "enjoyed" it. Anyway, that wasn't the point, the point was I went to a platform place on the world wide web where there are job posters, and job seekers. Upwork.

Upwork was recommended by a colleague and say - give it a go, just put in what you need, someone will put in some offers, you can verify them by looking at the profile, history, and most importantly its free to use, the platform only charges 3% of the fee in the contract you have with the person you have the contract with.

So, the usual mumbo jumbo of free, easy to use, user friendly were all in the platform. the most important element for me was I didn't feel like a dummy putting my problem in the platform. I confidently and humbly say I don't know this python stuff, and I want some one that can walk through with me and help me to jugaad a little bit.

The platform doesn't care how "stupid" your problem was, and it has the answer for me. In this case, multiple answers, turn out there were a lot of people putting forward their proposal that can solve my problem.

Best yet - they said my problem can be solved in 1 hour, which was 17 USD. I was like wow! this is a pretty good deal. I get to interact with these guys over the platform and screen them, free of charge. I go to LinkedIn check their profiles.

Funny thing was I was going to strike a deal with a Nigerian candidate, the platform gave me better answers, it gave me a person in Bangalore who displayed a much better capability and confidence.

Well it came with a price increase, instead of 17 USD, this person charges 25 USD. Ok, so 8 USD more; more like a McDonalds meal? Okay I'll go with that.

So the session happens, no conferencing tools? Don't worry! The platform provides conferencing. The platform also has some AI funky things to catch your communication with your candidate if you are talking about. It gives you some "pop up" to remind what you do next, and can guess you're in contract negotiation with the candidate and suggest how you do next. So basically the platform is "mediating" the thing using some kind of AI funky things. I thought that was cool as well.

This is what's so amazing about the world today, how on earth would I know this guy all the way in Bangalore that knows how to solve my problem? It is only the digital economy something like this happens.

I can finally declare I have used matchmaking apps now, not Tinder, or Coffee Meets Bagel though :) Let's hope all *human* matchmakers still can keep their jobs!