WIPs, Crowds and a Renaissance: Our Top Contingent Workforce and Services Posts of 2016

Looking back on the last year, one theme is abundantly clear: The talent and staffing supply chain is becoming increasingly digital. Whether freelancers, traditional staffing agencies or elite professional services firms, leaders in the contingent workforce ecosystem dove headfirst into the online world.

That leaves procurement with an ultimatum: Adapt to the digital evolution or get left behind.

But the rise of digital is nothing to fear. Our resident expert Andrew Karpie, who heads up services and labor procurement research here at Spend Matters, has been on top of this trend all year. Take a moment to reflect on some of his top posts from 2016, and read his nine-step guide to prepare your procurement organization for online talent platforms.

Professional Services Go Digital

Two of our most-read articles of the year tell how new technologies are changing the way consulting firms sell their services.

In February, PwC launched an online work intermediation platform (WIP) called PwC Talent Exchange. The offering directly connects independent professionals with internal PwC projects and project teams. Independent professionals can register with the exchange, create online profiles and gain access to project opportunities. Conversely, PwC project teams can have access to a pool of online talent with a broad range of different skills, expertise and professional backgrounds.

The launch of the PwC Talent Exchange “is certainly ‘a sign of the times," Karpie noted, and good timing for the “large professional services firm model [that] may be ripe for disruption.”

Taking a different approach, Deloitte in June launched a service called Pixel, a worldwide enterprise crowdsourcing offering. The solution “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,” the company said in a press release.

In Karpie’s eyes, Pixel serves as a bellwether for the future of contingent workforce and services supply chains:

The specific case of Deloitte and its crowd platform provider ecosystem … 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).”

Upgrades and Rebrands

While the consulting industry was unveiling new solutions in the contingent workforce space, established companies were also making some changes.

First, Upwork made a splash in February with the introduction of Upwork Pro and a new release of Upwork Enterprise. Upwork Pro added a premium sourcing solution specifically for mid-sized businesses, while the enterprise update addressed issues around classification compliance capabilities and services. Upwork also updated its pricing model in May, aiming to at align price to cost, encourage high value freelancers to stick around and most likely increase profitability, Karpie said.

Then a name that was fairly new on the scene disappeared, only to be replaced by a new one. HourlyNerd rebranded itself as Catalant, signifying the company’s ongoing metamorphosis from an online freelancer marketplace to a unique enterprise sourcing, engagement and talent integration platform. The company’s small business offering, however, continues to operate under the name “HourlyNerd powered by Catalant.”

Acquisitions and Partnerships

2016 saw some big moves by players in the contingent workforce realm. Two such events that received significant interest from readers were from Randstad, the world’s second-largest HR service provider. In May, Randstad partnered with on-demand workforce platform provider Gigwalk to address talent shortages in Japan. The firm then waded deeper into the world of online talent in June, when it acquired online freelancer program twago, the largest freelancer marketplace platform based in Europe.

“The acquisition is a significant event for a number of reasons,” Karpie wrote, “not the least of which is it being the first time a staffing and workforce solutions company has acquired a true online freelance marketplace.”  

But Randstad wasn’t the only company active in M&A this year. Toptal, a network of freelance software engineers and designers, acquired Skillbridge, an online talent marketplace for non-technical business professionals, for an undisclosed amount.

And in case you’ve been sleeping under a rock this December, Chicago-based private equity firm GTCR rocked the vendor management system (VMS) world with its announcement that it had acquired Beeline and intends to merge the firm with IQNavigator.

The Year Ahead

The merging of Beeline and IQN certainly proved to be one of the most pivotal moments of the year for VMS providers, to say nothing of the procurement and HR teams that depend on them. What was all the more impressive, however, was Karpie’s foresight into how big a year this would be for VMS.

Are we seeing indications of an impending VMS renaissance? We think we are, at least for some VMS players — and, in fact, for some the renaissance is already underway,” he wrote. “For all that is going on in the contingent workforce space at this time, driven by new technology and the need for more cost-effective and up-to-date ways of engaging and procuring the non-employee workforce, such changes and developments are probably happening none too soon.”

How will this play out for VMS, online work platforms and procurement practitioners in 2017? Check out Karpie’s post from earlier today to find out!

Share on Procurious

Discuss this:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.