The Promise and Challenge of the Evolving World of Work Intermediation Platforms

work intermediation platform

In our recent coverage, we have described work intermediation platforms (WIPs) as a heterogeneous population of more than 300 platforms around the world. Remarkably, the population continues to grow – at every turn there seems to a new platform popping up.

It is unclear how many platforms will survive over time. This will depend upon a number of factors, including concentration of similar competing platforms in specific business models and vertical segments, the extent to which platforms connect with complementors to form value networks and the extent to which platforms are architected to become part of a complete, functioning supplier network and supply chain between enterprises and independent workers.

Some WIP Newcomers

To give an idea of the expanding population of WIPs, here are 3 that popped up on my radar this week (one is in pre-launch beta, and 2 were just launched):

  • Rovable, now in beta, is discoverable at this seminal stage as a single-page website. It remains unclear what type of WIP Rovable will be – or if it might start an entirely new category. What can be said is what its Web page proclaims: “Right Person. Right Project. Right Time For Real Growth. Rovable is a service that is going to change how we work together.”
  • Gigsta, launched Aug. 15, appears to be an online freelancer marketplace for small gigs  – what Gigsta call micro jobs. This may not be correct, but Gigsta seems a little bit like Fiverr. But the multi-category, online freelancer marketplace segment of WIPs is becoming a rather crowded space. Undaunted, Gista put out a brief press release with a subtitle that defines the company as a, “micro job site ready to tackle the big boys.”
  • Gigster, incubated in Y Combinator and also launched in mid-August, is backed with $2.5 million from the accelerator, Greylock Partners, Bloomberg Beta and Felicis Ventures, as well as a number of top angel investors. Its vertical focus is software development. Gigster is not a freelancer marketplace. It’s more of a managed service/statement of work (SOW) platform. Buyers request software, and Gigster can deliver the software leveraging its own network of vetted freelance developers.

The above certainly demonstrates the ongoing proliferation of different types of WIPs, each having a more or less auspicious beginning.

Promises and Challenges

The sheer number of WIPs could be seen as promising, but it also presents a specific challenge: How do businesses and workers find and engage in the right opportunities?

On the worker side, a new company called giantGator, still in beta, seems to be tackling this problem. GiantGator provides workers with a configurable search capability to find suitable freelance gigs that are posted at other sites across the web.

All good for the worker (supply) side. But something like this is needed on the enterprise (demand) side – a kind of ThomasNet for discovering WIPs and the workers or services the WIPs have to offer.

But that’s not all.   

Enterprises will need not only be the capability to discover but also the ability to transact across an acceptable supplier network, where WIPs and their workers are sub-suppliers. This capability, something like a Concur for services, does not exist today – only the promise of it in the future. In the meantime, such challenges will remain for enterprises’ engagement with and use of WIPs.

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