Accenture’s “Workforce Marketplace” Trend Report: The Time To Act Is Now

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Accenture recently joined McKinsey (“A Labor Market that Works: Connecting Talent with Opportunity,” 2015) and Deloitte (“Global Human Capital Trends 2016 ­­— The new organization: Different by design”) with its own report that directly addresses online work platforms (which go by a number of different names). The Accenture report, “Workforce Marketplace: Invent your own future,” is trend No. 3 of 5 in the company’s more comprehensive “2017 Vision Trends: Technology for People.”

“Workforce Marketplace” addresses a number of developments and trends, including the end of the industrial employment paradigm, the acceleration of digital transformation, the evolving enterprise organization, the demand for flexible on demand talent and the rise of online talent platforms/marketplaces and enterprise collaboration platforms. The upshot: All of these developments and trends are leading to major changes in how work can be arranged and performed.

In particular, the report states, “two distinct but converging technology advancements are driving the digital transformation of labor: the online management of work and the on-demand labor force.” Accordingly, company organizational models are becoming flatter (non-hierarchical) and more open (more permeable “boundaries of the firm” — especially in relation to human capital) and thus evolving toward a new model that Accenture has dubbed the “Corporate Marketplace."

In addition to a planning checklist for companies that take the steps urged to meet these development and trends head on, the report offers several bold predictions:

  • “In five years or less, the presumptive judgments around full-time employment and freelancers will flip completely. Compared to traditional full-time employment, talent marketplaces will provide workers with improved earning opportunities, more rewarding work, secure benefits and respected credentials.”
  • “Within five years, all industries will have new, dominant leaders with business structures based on small cores and powerful ecosystems. Incumbent corporations still carrying the burden of legacy bureaucratic models will experience rapid deterioration of market power.”
  • “In the next five years, on-demand labor platforms will emerge as a primary driver of economic growth in developed and emerging economies worldwide.”
  • “By 2022, the traditional purpose of industrial era corporations and management models will be replaced, having been displaced by digitally connected marketplaces.”

If these predictions are true, then contingent workforce management practitioners will need to get off the dime. Practitioners in probably most enterprises (more than $1 billion in revenue) devote little attention, if any, to these options/opportunities. Only small numbers of contingent workforce management programs appear to be engaging in pilots. However, interest and pilots are and will be on the rise, whether led by procurement or other corporate actors (relegating procurement to a supporting role).

Another important fact is that there are already individual and departmental users of online labor/talent platforms in probably all large enterprises, and online labor/talent platforms are increasingly pursuing the successful enterprise penetration strategy of going direct to the “end consumers.” These developments could be leading to a tipping point across enterprises and could fulfill Accenture’s prediction.

At Spend Matters, we are not sure of the Accenture predictions, but we are sure that these online labor/talent platforms (what we have called “work intermediation platforms” or WIPs) are becoming increasingly important sources of labor/talent and services for enterprises. Therefore, for a number of years now, we have been providing our readers and subscribers with detailed research and analysis on platform providers and major developments and trends within this emerging space. Our content library and advisory services can jump-start and propel practitioners who want to move quickly up their learning curves on this subject.

This is just a very small sample of public articles and subscriber (PRO) research reports, going back to early 2015:

We have also produced a significant number of practitioner-oriented white papers on a range of pertinent issues, challenges and opportunities such as this practitioner "preparation checklist" available to anyone for  download:

In conclusion, contingent workforce management procurement practitioners would be ill-advised to ignore the developments and trends we are discussing here, but should be educating themselves and planning their responses to not be caught flat-footed.

Accenture’s new report can be seen as validation of the importance of online labor/talent platforms and the need to act.

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