From Crew Connection to CrewCloud — A Staffing Business’ Remarkable Digital Transformation

Crew Connection

It is a common assumption that work intermediation platforms (WIPs) have sprouted like unwelcome weeds outside of the established staffing supply chain and all of its constituent players. While this has been by and large true, it is also true that players within the established supply chain are adopting platform models in response to client and independent worker demand for direct, technology-based ways of connecting and doing business with one another.

One interesting example of this involves Crew Connection, which announced its launch of CrewCloud in a recent press release. We’ll get to CrewCloud below, but first a bit about Crew Connection.

Where it all Started: Crew Connection

Crew Connection, founded in 1989, is a kind of specialized staffing business focused solely on supplying freelance video crews to organizations. The company describes itself as a “one-stop source for thoroughly vetted freelance video production professionals around the world,” noting that “video production is a highly specialized industry, requiring a staggering range of skills.”

Crew Connection has an impressive client list, including media organizations like Bravo, Buena Vista Productions, Canadian Broadcasting, CBS, HBO, Disney Channel and Discovery Channel and a wide range of business clients, including Accenture, Adobe, Caterpillar, AT&T and American Express.

In many ways, Crew Connection has functioned like a typical staffing kind of business:  providing access to talent, ensuring compliance and enabling payments from clients to workers.  But unlike typical staffing businesses, Crew Connection will supply a whole video production crew, not just an individual. In addition, because video production professionals are traditionally freelancers, Crew Connection classifies and pays these professionals in a manner that is compliant but treats the professionals like freelancers. (See its worker classification and vendor payment and payroll services pages.)

CrewCloud — A Star is Born

In recent years, Crew Connection came to understand that increasing numbers of clients and professionals it served wanted a more direct, online option. To meet these needs, Crew Connection developed CrewCloud and, according to the press release, “launched the industry’s first online platform for sourcing global crews.” The press release also elaborated:

“CrewCloud platform is the first media production-specific freelancer management system that allows clients to manage the entire search and booking process from start to finish. Leveraging Crew Connection’s extensive database of global media talent, CrewCloud helps corporate media and video production teams more efficiently allocate resources, and allows them to quickly and easily find the perfect crew to fit their unique project. Users are able to search crews by geography, gear, and areas of expertise, and can view demo reels and other references directly from the site.”

Not only does CrewCloud enable businesses and production teams match-up, the platform also allows them to execute contracting arrangements, including payments. If clients need additional support, Crew Connection personnel can be accessed as client support.

And so we witness the extraordinary transformation of a staffing type of business, founded almost 30 years ago, and its entry into the digital, on-demand freelancer gig world of 2015. For many readers, probably an unexpected metamorphosis.

Spend Matters Take

Crew Connection’s progression into the WIP space leads us to number of observations:

  • It is noteworthy that WIPs, even with global reach, can emerge from existing staffing suppliers and not just arise through young, venture-backed tech firms.
  • While reservations about the use of the young outsider platforms has included the absence of talent vetting, compliance assurance and adequate client support, a digitally transformed staffing business of this sort — what I have elsewhere called a “hybridized staffing firm” — can overcome these reservations from the get-go.
  • Contingent workforce managers should take account of this in their future sourcing strategies: state-of-the-art, digital work arrangement intermediaries can arise as hybridized models within your existing supplier base — so it is important to keep an eye out for these innovators, which may deliver advantages over avant-garde players.

We tend to take a broad, open view of the evolving independent workforce ecosystem, where we see new players emerging, existing players mutating and relationships developing by trial and error. As such, we think we must be prepared for the unexpected and remarkable.

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Voices (2)

  1. Tim Giehll:

    Hi Andrew: I could not have said it better. With about 9,000 Staffing Firms in the US, they have had a traditional business model of brick & mortar branch offices with shrinking margins squeezed between bill rates and pay rates. These staffing firms are under attack from higher rent, higher employee costs to work in those branches, increasing government costs related to ACA mandates, workers comp costs, unemployment insurance and the list goes on. Just like the banking’s transitioned to ATMs, the staffing industry needs to also reinvent itself through the use of 1099 On-Demand Marketplaces and Freelance Management Systems (FMS). Staffing needs to transition itself during 2016-2018 in order to save itself and Field Nation is here to help them through that transition. Thanks, Tim Giehll

    1. Andrew Karpie:

      Thank you for your comments, Tim. Couldn’t agree more. We live in interesting times! 🙂

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