Specialized Work Intermediation Platforms – What’s the Significance?

work intermediation platforms

When we think about online platforms that intermediate between workers and whoever needs work to be done, we often think of freelancer marketplaces, such as Upwork (formerly Elance/oDesk) or freelancer.com, that support a broad range of work categories. However, there are also specialized work intermediation platforms (WIPs), which focus only on a particular work category or in a specific geography or language.  

In this article, we look at several representative specialized platforms and comment on their potential significance.

Specialized Work Categories

There is a fairly broad range of platforms that enable the performance of specific kinds of work on a contingent basis, both online-remote or on-premise. Here are just a few examples:

  • CastingWords – focuses only on transcriptions
  • Gengo – focuses only on translation
  • Coworks – focuses only on creative talent (e.g., graphic design)
  • Applause – focuses only on software testing
  • Topcoder – focuses only on software development
  • Freelance Physician – focuses only on temporary physicians
  • UpCounsel – focuses only on legal services

Specialized Geographies, Languages

There are a number of platforms that specialize in geography or language, even China or the Middle East and North Africa. These are just a few examples:

  • Codeur.com – focuses only on French-speaking populations
  • Workana – focuses only on freelancers in Latin America
  • Trabajo Freelance – focuses only on Spanish-speaking populations
  • Zhubajie – focuses only on freelancers in China
  • Nabbesh – focuses only on freelancers in the Middle East

What’s the Significance?

We have said a number of times that the population of WIPs is a heterogeneous one. We’ve tended to emphasize differences in business or operating models, but another axis of differentiation is specialization, as outlined above.

Specialization is significant in at least 2 respects:

  1. Specialization may allow for better curation and support, and thus higher quality, of workers. A number of specialist platforms provide optional training in specialized areas or support professional networking for the worker population.
  2. Specialization supports segmentation of talent into distinct pools that can support different kinds of demand. It may also provide the basis for true supplier networks, where specialized platforms become suppliers in an emerging, digitally connected ecosystem for work and services. There might be competition among multiple platforms in particular categories based on size and quantity of talent, effectiveness of services and, of course, cost.

It is important to be aware, for sourcing purposes, that such specialization exists among WIPs and to look out for what a future contingent workforce ecosystem might look like. This subject will be treated in more detail in a PRO brief at a later time, in the context of Spend Matters’ ongoing, comprehensive coverage of WIPs.

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