The Emerging World of Digitally Intermediated Work: Old vs. New — or Something Else? (Part 1) [PRO]

digital business transformation Sergey Nivens/Adobe Stock

Fact: New, digitally enabled models and marketplaces for sourcing labor, talent, skills, expertise and services have started to emerge in recent years. Yet “talent brokers” have always existed in the labor market — work arrangements have long been intermediated by staffing firms and service providers. Viewed from this lens, what is happening now is not so much disintermediation of those intermediaries but rather the emergence and evolution of new intermediation models that, at their core, take advantage of digital technologies. While these models are appearing in the market as new solutions offered by new companies (e.g., Upwork, Catalant, Hired, WorkMarket), gradually they are also being incorporated and adopted by incumbent staffing and service provider intermediaries (e.g., Randstad, GRI, MBO Partners, PwC, Deloitte).

This two-part Spend Matters PRO research brief explores the evolution of digitally intermediated work. In the first installment, we take inventory of the current staffing and labor models today and how digitization alters the structure and properties of work compared with staffing models. We also explore the comparative sourcing and provisioning of digital talent, as well as how organizations can structure and consume these new services — compared with traditional approaches. Finally, we consider the current state of digitally enabled work arrangements and intermediaries. In Part 2 of this series, we summarize and structure key takeaways from all of the current trends and provide recommendations for practitioners.

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