Deloitte recently announced the launch of Deloitte Pixel, what it calls a worldwide enterprise crowdsourcing offering. According to the press release, “This capability enables Deloitte teams and clients to leverage external crowds to access specific, difficult-to-find expertise, collaborate to develop new products or ideas and even design, build and test new digital assets.”
What’s it all About?
There has been discussion in recent years about whether or not emerging online work intermediation platforms — like HourlyNerd, Topcoder, Experfy and UpCounsel, to name a few — could have a disruptive effect on traditional professional services businesses. The jury may still be out on that question. But what has become apparent recently is that some consulting businesses are responding to these emerging models, whether by creating their own host platforms (such as PWC’s freelancer Talent Exchange) or by leveraging the talent of external crowdsourcing and marketplace platforms (as it the case with Deloitte Pixel). This hybridization that seems to be starting in professional services may also be commencing in staffing businesses (see “Randstad Japan and Gigwalk Taking Temporary Staffing into the On-Demand, Gig Economy”).
As noted on the Deloitte Pixel web page, Pixel “zooms into an issue or problem to break it down to its core components (i.e. pixels). Once pixelated, we can assess which crowd is best to execute the pixels of work, in collaboration with Deloitte and client resources. This approach allows us to best optimize the labor mix between crowdsourcing and traditional resourcing.”
Pixel: 2 Years in the Making
Apparently, Pixel is a solution that has been at least two years in the making. Deloitte has stated that major clients across different industries and Deloitte teams have already leveraged Pixel “to help address a variety of issues, from market insight to digital design and development, customer engagement, operations and talent strategy.”
Over those two years, Deloitte said it also “established an ecosystem of leading crowdsourcing vendors — including Topcoder, 10EQS, Wikistrat and InCrowd.” It appears that other crowdsourcing vendors will be added over time. Deloitte also emphasized that Pixel is itself not a crowdsourcing platform that aggregates talent but rather that the approach is to rely on external crowdsourcing vendors and the unique talent they aggregate and supply with different degrees of liquidity.
Deloitte’s Management Slant
Carl Bates, Deloitte U.K. lead partner for Pixel, has said "crowdsourcing is not just for start-ups. The crowd can offer enterprises an innovative way to find new solutions to traditional problems while creating opportunities for individuals to change the way they work and learn new skills.”
Jim Moffatt, managing director and global consulting business leader at Deloitte, said, "We are seeing spectacular results, too, in certain situations, by creating better and more-scalable solutions at lower costs than even the best in-house teams. Pixel is just one part of Deloitte's comprehensive talent strategy, which includes implementing internal crowd efforts and other open-talent models."
Deloitte plans to make significant investments in Pixel over the next five years to expand its crowdsourcing capabilities and service footprint.
Spend Matter Observations
While we intend to follow up with Deloitte to do a much deeper dive on Pixel, at this time we do have some key observations for contingent workforce and services procurement:
- The introduction of Pixel by Deloitte, like the advent of the PWC Talent Exchange, suggests that some professional services firms may be transforming from within. How far this may go and to what extent it may eventually affect quality output to cost ratios remains to be seen. How much will professional services remain vulnerable to disintermediation by platforms?
- Enterprise use of crowdsourcing models is on an upward trend. Crowdsourcing ideation models, for example, have been showing significant uptake in a range of verticals among larger enterprises. Gartner has predicted that 75% of high-performing enterprises will be using some form of crowdsourcing by 2018.
- The specific case of Deloitte and its crowd platform provider ecosystem (as well as other cases, some mentioned above) provides insight into how existing contingent workforce and services supply chains are beginning to evolve into networks or ecosystems of digital, platform-based providers of labor/talent in a variety of new forms (from microtasking to sophisticated, expert team projects).
- We often point out that there is so much noise today about total talent management (managing full-time and contingent labor/talent holistically) that many have missed the more near-term and impactful emergence of online work intermediation platforms (WIPs), the formation of digital ecosystems and the arrival of new modes of providing and consuming work and services in different forms. Total talent management is a vision — the digital enablement of the supply and consumption of contingent work and services is already in progress.
- What is emerging will present contingent workforce and services procurement professionals with both opportunities and challenges.
- Opportunities will include providing much-needed labor and talent in more liquid and cost-efficient ways that will benefit both business users and the enterprise overall. Digitally-enabled, consumerized work-as-a-service is already being embraced by enterprise business users.
- Challenges, however, in the coming years will be many. What we are describing is a completely new, unmapped territory that will be very different from the supplier landscape and suppliers procurement has grown accustomed to. Not only are the methods and metrics for selecting and managing the “next-generation suppliers” undeveloped, even the nomenclature to describe the emerging environment is very fuzzy. (For example, there are almost as many meanings of crowdsourcing as there are people you might use in the process — and it does not end there.)
While many practitioners may view these developments as far off, they probably are not, which is why Spend Matters is focused on research and analysis in this area to address open questions and provide practice-oriented frameworks and information to guide contingent workforce and services procurement professionals along this path to increased enterprise performance and business user enablement and satisfaction.