If you are an enterprise contingent workforce or services procurement practitioner, it’s almost certain that you have some awareness of the increasing role of state-of-the-art technology platforms in intermediating contingent work arrangements. You know today (whether because of Uber, or Upwork, or others) that technology-based platforms are being used to engage contingent workers, get work done and most often pay the workers — all through a single digital platform. But this awareness was not always the case. When analyst coverage of this subject started over four years ago, the emergence of work intermediation platforms was (for all intents and purposes) off the radar of practitioners, who were absorbed with program expansion, vendor management system (VMS) adoption, staff-augmentation cost and risk management and the increasing need to manage SOWs. All of these remain top priorities now, but practitioner mindshare has opened up for several reasons, such as the need to access and engage skilled talent in a time of shortages and the expanding popular awareness of freelance, gig and on-demand.
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DCR Workforce: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Industry Context, Business Background and Solution Overview [PRO]
This Spend Matters PRO vendor research series focuses on DCR Workforce (DCR), a provider of services management/procurement technology solutions. DCR Workforce is a difficult provider to paint into a box. On one level, DCR provides a next generation vendor management system (VMS) solution, more than capable of holding its own against some of the better known providers in the sector on a functional basis addressing basic contingent workforce requirements. But on another level, it delivers much more — a statement of work (SOW) capability that is fundamentally different than other VMS providers in approach and capability, a powerful analytics platform for managing broader services procurement activities and even a freelancer management system (FMS) and supplier network that offers new ways to manage freelancer and contractors. Part 1 of this series provides background and the business context surrounding DCR Workforce, including quick facts and a history of the provider, and an overview of the DCR business and solution set. Subsequent parts of the series will go deeper into the DCR solutions and what use cases they may best address.
Services procurement, with the exception of contingent workforce management (CWM), has evolved imperceptibly over the past 15 years. However, there are reasons to believe that it is about to change — or in terms of what procurement does, will need to change. Those reasons include the pressure to reduce cost of services and the effects of accelerating digitization. Still, without senior management support, additional funding and organizational development, the need to change may not be addressed, leaving gaps in enterprise performance, which more proactive, competitive companies could exploit.
In this first part of this PRO series, we will cover “The What” of services procurement — where we’ve gotten to today and where we seem to be heading. In subsequent installments, we will focus on the role of digitization and what changes procurement will be addressing as consumption and buying of services in different forms increases across enterprise organizations.
This week we present blur Group PLC as the WIP of the Week. From our standpoint, blur is an online marketplace work intermediation platform with a service layer consisting of supplier vetting and some customer support. What seems to set blur apart from other online marketplace WIPs is that its supply base consists of service provider businesses — 67,000, it says, “from boutique marketing agencies to multinational consultancy,” including companies like Ogilvy, WPP, Accenture, KPMG and others. As such, blur positions itself as a services marketplace platform versus a freelance marketplace platform, offering value propositions for procurement such as services tail spend capture, a services catalog, spend visibility and cost savings. In this brief, we provide an overview of blur, its unique platform model and, as usual, offer our own commentary.
Wonolo: WIP of the Week [PRO]
This week we present Wonolo as the WIP of the Week. The company provides an on-demand work intermediation platform that matches and connects businesses and pre-vetted, local workers (Wonoloers) who can rapidly fill short-term jobs. The platform also enables the online payments from businesses to workers and provides other capabilities to both businesses and workers. Platform-intermediated, on-demand “gig” work arrangements (requested and fulfilled locally) are now mainstream (rides, deliveries, errands, short tasks, et al.). Unlike many of the on-demand labor marketplaces that focus on serving consumers and/or very small businesses, Wonolo targets both SMB (over 30 employees) and large enterprises (over 500 employees) that have unpredictable, short-term, uniform-output labor requirements. Moreover, Wonolo can meet business needs for multiple workers (for example, 20 warehouse workers), not just one-offs. It tends to enter into longer-term fee agreements with businesses, though businesses can also engage Wonoloers “by the drink,” as it were. In this brief, we provide an overview of Wonolo and its unique platform model and, as usual, offer our own commentary.
This week we present UpCounsel as the WIP of the Week. The company provides a specialized legal services marketplace platform that enables connecting clients with attorneys and supports the delivery of a specific legal service (attorney to client) along with billing and payment.
Services procurement category managers know that spend on outside legal services is a significant and complex spend category, and they have worked hard over the years to reduce it. Are procurement’s efforts to continue to push down outside legal services costs petering out? Or are there options ahead? And could they be dependent on technology?
In the PRO brief, “The Digital Evolution of the Contingent Workforce Supply Chain: A Simple Typology for Work Intermediation Platforms (Part 2B),” we developed a framework that defined WIPs in terms of three basic categories (marketplaces, service providers, private pools/networks) with further differentiation based on a few key attributes. We also unpacked/discussed these three basic categories and their variants in detail (if you have not read the brief, reading it will provide helpful background). However, this discussion was somewhat abstract, so in this brief we present and discuss a number of example WIPs that we would assign to one of the three categories — noting once again that some WIPs could be represented in more than one category.
This week we present Dispatch as the WIP of the Week. The company is one of a number of specialized technology solution providers that enables other businesses to provide "on-demand services" to their customers. In this context, an on-demand service is one that allows a customer to place an order for a service (get a ride, some food, a package, etc.) with a smartphone app and have the service fulfilled by a gig worker, within a short period of time, at that customer’s location. A specifically designed and engineered technology platform is required to enable such processes, and that is exactly what Dispatch does for its business customers. In a very real sense, Dispatch is a specialized PaaS that can enable a business’ implementation of its own on-demand services.
Gigster: WIP of the Week [PRO]
This week we present Gigster as our WIP of the Week. Gigster is a work intermediation platform that allows businesses to a describe a software development project to a sales engineer via instant messaging or a call and in 10 minutes get a guaranteed quote specifying cost and how long the project will take. Gigster manages a global online network of highly vetted software developers (often moonlighting developers of top tech companies or college students in top computer science programs) who are tapped to complete projects. Every project is organized and managed by a project manager. Gigster got started in 2013, funded with a convertible of $1.8 million, and it launched commercially through Y Combinator in mid-2015. By December 2015, it had raised an additional $10.7 million.
twago: WIP of the Week [PRO]
Today, we present twago as our WIP of the Week. Founded in 2009 in Berlin, twago is a multicategory online freelancer marketplace that is focused on serving businesses in Europe. Twago, which has the distinction of being the only pan-European freelancer platform, is also notable for having received a Series A investment from the Innovation Fund of the staffing giant Randstad in 2014. While freelancing is growing in Europe (especially in certain countries and cities), the European landscape is a challenging one for freelancing platforms to navigate, due to country-specific requirements (language, legal, cultural, cross-border data privacy laws and other landscape features). As discussed below, twago has pursued a unique platform strategy to address these issues. In this brief, we will provide an overview of twago’s business, platform and offer a short Spend Matters perspective.
The Practitioner’s Dilemma: The Digital Evolution of the Contingent Workforce Supply Chain (Part 3) [PRO]
In Part 1 of this series, we offered and explained our theory and outlook on the evolution of the contingent workforce supply chain in coming years. Work intermediation platforms (WIPs) will become more established and viable as unique platform intermediaries that play specific roles related to certain workforce populations and business needs; they will also complement and integrate with some range of players in the existing supply chain — such as VMS, staffing suppliers, IC compliance firms — which may also adopt platform strategies themselves. In Part 2 (a, b and c) of this series, we unpacked and dissected WIPs to give practitioners a higher resolution, accurate understanding of what WIPs are and, particularly, what different forms they have been taking. We have also explained how WIPs and ecosystems are two sides of the same coin and have tried to provide an initial basis for understanding work intermediation platform ecosystems. In Part 3 of this series, we will attempt to bring Parts 1 and 2 together and analyze what it means for contingent workforce and services procurement practitioners in coming years and offer some suggestions on how to approach these developments.