The Freelance Frontier: How the Future of Independent Work is Happening Now

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On May 15, we will be joining the Freelance Frontier webinar to contribute our own perspective on emerging, alternative sourcing channels and ecosystems for freelance contract workers.The webinar will also feature three young, innovative solution providers — IC PreCheck, Bunker and Genesys Talent — that have started their journeys across the Freelance Frontier.

In addition to developing their own digitally enabled solutions, these providers have chosen to partner and configure themselves as part of an ecosystem that can bring together organizations and independent-freelance workers in an efficient, fast, compliant and mutually beneficial way. In the webinar, the providers will discuss their own solutions as well as how they work together.

The Freelance Frontier

To source and manage their contingent workforce, most organizations have relied on a well-established temporary staffing supply chain and a fairly mature set of practices, processes and common protocols. While these organizations have long made use of independent-freelance contract workers, corresponding practices and processes have been immature or lacking. And for the most part there has been no real external supply chain to source, vet and ensure compliance of this increasingly important contingent workforce segment.

This independent-freelance workforce supply chain, or more accurately, digitally connected ecosystems, are just now coming together. This is the Freelance Frontier — a space where pioneering solution providers using digital platforms and connectivity are finding new ways to bridge the gap between organizations and the growing population of now indispensable freelance workers.

The broad range of solutions emerging on the Freelance Frontier not only includes new entrants (such as those in the webinar and others like Catalant and Upwork). It also includes the activities of some established incumbent players, including Beeline, MBO Partners, Randstad Sourceright and SAP Fieldglass. While not quite a land rush, staking out territory beyond the Frontier is definitely now serious business.

Crossing the Frontier

Crossing over the Freelance Frontier means overcoming the voids and obstacles that constrain engagements between organizations and freelancers and the value they create for both parties. What has been happening (or not happening) basically amounts to a market failure, with transaction costs limiting the number of transactions clearing the market and thus leaving parties on both sides underserved.

Correcting this market failure cannot be accomplished by tweaking and rejiggering. It requires building new processes and enabling infrastructure where none exists today. It means establishing an entirely new way for organizations and workers to engage with one another, without the previous obstacles and economic deadweight loss. And because it is 2018 and not 1998, it means utilizing today’s technologies (digital platforms and connectivity, wireless/mobile, big data, advanced analytics, etc.) to create new processes that could not be supported in the past (eliminating steps, new digital services, changing timing of actions/processes and much more).

And that leads us back to the digitally connected ecosystems fundamental to establishing a new market structure and creating greater value creation. But that whole subject warrants more detailed and extensive treatment, so we’ll put that off to another Spend Matters article sometime in the future. At this time, we don’t want to indulge in theory, but rather focus on what is happening today.

Not Just Futurism

Many of the components (provider solutions) are not just functioning in the marketplace today, they are also beginning to function together and form digitally connected ecosystems that can bring organizations and freelance workers together and allow them to “get more work done” and make both parties better off than before.

For years we’ve been inundated with references to some “future of work.” But the transformation of how work gets arranged and how it gets done has already started. Join us and three solution pioneers on May 15 to learn more about what is happening on the Freelance Frontier and how different it can be from the status quo. You can register for the Freelancer Frontier webinar here.

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