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Procurement Services

Technology and the Melting of Outside Legal Services: Has the Time Come? (Part 1)

legal services

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?

Work Intermediation Platforms: Examples Within 3 Basic Categories [PRO]

ra2 studio/Adobe Stock

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.

Dispatch: WIP of the Week [PRO]


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]

contingent workforce

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.

Platform Ecosystems: The Digital Evolution of the Contingent Workforce Supply Chain (Part 2C) [PRO]

platform ecosystems

This installment completes Part 2 of this three-part series on the digital evolution of the contingent workforce supply chains. Parts 2a, 2b and 2c, provide a full explanation of work intermediation platforms and ecosystems. While Part 2a focused on WIPs in the context of the existing staffing supply chain and Part 2b covered categorization of these platforms, Part 2C addresses ecosystems and their essential role in making platforms valuable and advantageous for their users.

To speak of a technology-based platform today is to imply its ecosystem of direct users, complementary service and solution providers, including app and other software developers leveraging platforms’ APIs. In fact, the value of a platform derives (a) from the platform’s design and architecture to build and manage ecosystems and (b) from the composition of the ecosystem itself. All of this is true for work intermediation platforms, and it will become an increasingly significant part of such platforms going forward, including how they are sourced and managed by procurement.Platform Ecosystems: The Digital Evolution of the Contingent Workforce Supply Chain (Part 2C)

Voices.com: WIP of the Week [PRO]


Today, we present Voices.com as our WIP of the Week. Founded in 2005, Voices.com is a kind of online freelancer marketplace/managed services platform focused specifically on “voice-over” talent. Voices.com is the preeminent specialized platform that globally connects professional voice talent and media production professionals working at radio and television stations, advertising agencies and Fortune 500 companies. In this post, we will provide an overview of Voice.com’s business, platform and services and offer some thoughts on why a platform like Voices.com can be particularly instructive from a services procurement point of view.

A Simple Typology for Work Intermediation Platforms: The Digital Evolution of the Contingent Workforce Supply Chain (Part 2B) [PRO]

supplier network

Platforms can vary by type of intermediation (matching, crowdsourced challenges, etc.), verticalization of work and a range of other attributes. In fact, a comprehensive and definitive typology may very well be impossible. Within the three types, instances of platforms are distinguished based on three other variables (from right to left in the diagram): (a) whether the work is performed online/remote or offline/locational (in a specific location) or both, (b) the degree to which the workforce engaged with the platform is vetted and (c) the degree to which what happens on the platform is managed. It is noted that vetting and management can be the work of humans, algorithms or both combined.

Work Intermediation Platforms and Ecosystems: The Digital Evolution of the Contingent Workforce Supply Chain (Part 2A) [PRO]

big data

In Part 1 of this series, we explained our view of how the contingent workforce and staffing supply chain is being broadly and decisively impacted by digital technology — particularly in the form of work intermediation platforms and ecosystems. In Parts 2a, 2b and 2c, we explore work intermediation platforms and ecosystems fully. In this installment, we focus on the emergence of work intermediation platforms in the context of the existing staffing supply chain. Parts 2b and 2c will cover the categorization of these platforms and the important topic of ecosystems, and we will continue with the connected topic of work intermediation platform ecosystems.

Contently: WIP of the Week [PRO]


Today, we present Contently as our WIP of the Week. Contently, launched in 2010 as a freelancer marketplace, is now a work intermediation platform that allows businesses to execute their end-to-end content strategies and content creation and delivery projects. The company describes itself as “a technology company that helps enterprise companies create results-driven content.” Contently provides its clients (a) powerful enabling technology, (b) a network of best-in-class content creators all of the world and (c) a range of different services, all of which will be described in greater detail below.

InnoCentive: WIP of the Week [PRO]


Today, we present InnoCentive as our WIP of the Week. InnoCentive, launched in 2001 as a spin-off from Eli Lilly, is a crowdsourcing form of work intermediation platform that allows businesses (“Seekers”) to set up and execute problem-solving and ideation challenges to be addressed by individuals from within InnoCentive’s crowd of problem solvers (“Solvers”) and other solver populations, including InnoCentive’s partners’ solvers and client businesses’ employees or solvers of their partners or suppliers. InnoCentive serves what are typically large organizations. The shortlist includes AstraZeneca, Booz Allen Hamilton, Cleveland Clinic, Thomson Reuters, NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense and other government agencies in U.S. and Europe. Like some other well-established WIPs, InnoCentive’s business encompasses a number of different kinds of platform applications and services, and the company goes to market with several basic offerings, which can take the form of (a) enterprise software without managed services and (b) crowdsourcing (problem solving and ideation) programs that leverage InnoCentive technology and are managed in varying degrees by InnoCentive. In this brief, we provide an overview of InnoCentive’s business, and we provide some explanation of the company’s problem-solving and ideation crowdsourcing offerings. To conclude, we offer some thoughts on what a supplier model like InnoCentive implies for services procurement.