Molly car.

I want… does not get

‘I want, I want, I want’

‘I want … does not get’ is the weary response of my 1970’s mum.

Fast forward to 2005 and my 2-year-old daughter greets the arrival of our friends by touring our home and announcing everything that belongs to her. I am embarrassed. Also, a little worried, until my friend and more experienced parent points out that it is very normal at that age. In fact, the concept of ‘sharing’ is impossible until you are sure what belongs to you.

Phew! I have not produced a materialistic megalomaniac! … yet!

Now, in 2019, ownership feels less important than ever. My 7-year-old son watches more films than my daughter ever did. Yet there are fewer DVDs in the house. He plays more computer games, but there is less clutter in his bedroom (globally gaming is up and yet console sales are down).

…. and my wife thinks I have not noticed that my CD collection is dwindling (I dare say a few have been taken to the charity shop whenever I am away). Soon all I will be left with are ‘Sonic Temple’ and ‘Blue Lines’ (even Sanchia is surely not brave enough to dispose of them) and nothing to play them on.

We listen to stacks of music, the transition to Spotify a decade ago was painful at the time, but now the subscription leaves the bank account without a second thought and having the world’s music at our disposal is expected. We consume more news than ever, but no daily newspaper delivery.

So what next? At the Subscribe event (Tobacco Dock, London) on 3rd October, the opportunities seem limitless. Tien Tzuo and the speaker team outlined subscription solutions that included Healthcare (, car subscription ( (to Transport as a Service)   … and of course Tien’s own connected footwear (trainers that monitor all aspects of walking and running – providing advice on cadence and stride pattern etc … and replace themselves when they are at their sell by date!)

Tien refers to this revolution as the shift from ‘Ownership’ to ‘Usership’. We demand and consume more but own less. Owning less is vogue; just look at the following of Marie Kondo. Apparently over 50% of us want to own less stuff – more than at any time in history?

If subscription is also a driver in planet-saving initiatives, then that can only be a good thing. I do not need DVDs to be manufactured, newspapers to be printed or take trips to HMV. There is an obvious reduction in transportation. However, judging by the number of occasions we arrive home to an Amazon delivery vehicle in the drive (often one parcel at a time!) then we are some way off this ‘owning-less-stuff’ game and saving the planet at the same time. Still trying to get my head around subscription models for consumer goods and whether this will help me own less stuff or consume less natural resources. I will not share a pair of trainers in the same way I might share a transport option.

…. and what about B2B. At Marshall Wolfe we do not own Server Infrastructure or any Software applications – we are already full time subscribers to cloud enabled solutions. Usership is freedom – we can work from where we want and when we want. Ownership ties us to solutions maintenance and unexpected costs.

Do Marshall Wolfe offer subscription B2B services? Can we add a better Customer Experience by offering services over subscription?

Our Virtual Bench Software is by subscription (it is now a traditional rather than evolutionary model). We have also just launched our first ‘Grey Label’ subscription service for managing Associate Populations in the Consulting market. We are also exploring partnerships with expert network subscription models.

We believe companies really need to ‘hunker down’ on their core ‘why’ and employ staff that are central to this journey (individuals that understand the journey but have the skills and aptitude to be able to shift focus in our fast moving markets – see our blog on the Professional Gig Ecomony). Companies are pivoting propositions in weeks rather than years. There is plenty of evidence from the growth in outsourcing and the rise of the gig economy to appreciate that ‘owning’ large teams of employees in non-core functions is also not  ‘fashionable’.

At ‘Subscribe’ I was hoping for that light-bulb moment on how to create a ‘Talent-as-a-Service’ subscription model. There have been a few flickering’s, but it feels like a long way from illumination.

There have got to be better solutions to improve the value exchange in the Talent Acquisition in this emerging landscape.

We would love to hear your ideas …

Thanks to our friend at Zuora for hosting.

Please speak to our friends from the Rokker Network – Rokker and Skull Mountain if you wish to explore moving to a subscription proposition.

MegaTeamOne – if you want to explore Team Performance, Happiness and well being in this changing landscape.

Pictured above, future CEO of Marshall Wolfe – circa 1980.

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