Afternoon Coffee: MBO Partners’ latest look at U.S. gig economy; Hackett Group reveals procurement investment priorities

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A new report by the Hackett Group has revealed that procurement organizations were prioritizing the transformation of digital technologies in specific areas. The firm’s ‘2019 Procurement Key Issues’ report said the priority areas were modernizing core source-to-pay platforms (for 54% of respondents), improving analytical capabilities (50%), and accelerating the adoption of technology tools (36%), among others.

While all procurement teams were in transformation mode, most had chosen to invest selectively.

Spend Matters’ Alex Behrens takes a more in-depth look at the report right here.

MBO Partners illuminates the Independent Workforce

MBO Partners published its 9th annual “State of Independence” report, according to a press release today. It represents the longest-running study of the independent workforce in the U.S., a population that includes any type of worker who performs work outside of an on-going traditional employment relationship (e.g., gig, freelance, temporary and on-call workers, contractors, consultants, etc. whether full- or part-time, occasional or moonlighting, voluntary or reluctant).

The report provides rich insights into this population’s characteristics and attitudes as well as trends and changes over time. It also explains what is happening in the workforce in terms of cyclical and structural economic forces, changing demographics and the increasing role of technology.

For example, it shows the significant cyclical-driven decline in “reluctant,” “full-time” independents from 5.7 million in 2012 to 2.9 million in 2019, as the economic recovery gathered steam and independents shifted back to being employees for steady pay and benefits. At the same time, the number of new entrants into the “full-time” independent workforce remained more or less constant (on the order of 1.5 million workers).

On the uptake, the number of “occasional” independent workers increased from 10.5 million in 2016 to 15 million in 2019 (an increase of nearly 50%), driven in part by large numbers of workers who need to pay bills or save, while wages have stagnated in their day jobs. “For a large chunk of the American population,” the report notes, “part-time independent work has become crucial to making ends meet and shore up shaky finances.”

But it’s all not deprivation and desperation. The increase can also be accounted for by demographics, a subpopulation that desires a life-style that incorporates learning, hobbies, entrepreneurship, etc. and requires a cobbling together of different flexible income sources.

And according to the report: “The market is supplying a solution, in the form of platforms and marketplaces that enable occasional work or side gigs.”

To that we would add that markets are supposed to be efficient (which is how we expect them to be), and in equilibrium they’re supposed to provide worthwhile outcomes for both buyers and sellers.

For the latest coverage on this changing landscape, be sure to bookmark Spend Matters' resource center on Contingent Workforce & Services.

Senator says U.S. needs long-term plan to face supply chain threat from China

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) has warned that the U.S. did not have a long-term strategy to tackle the threat posed by China on the technology and cybersecurity fronts.

"Here I think we need a lot of work, and frankly I've seen very little articulate development from the administration on that short-term strategy," said Warner. "I will acknowledge that the Trump administration has done the right thing vis-a-vis China in saying the status quo was not working, but if the status quo is not working, [the president's] got to offer an alternative."

HP opens 3D printing and manufacturing center in Barcelona

HP's new 150,000-square-foot 3D printing and Digital Manufacturing Center of Excellence (CoE) in Barcelona will allow the IT major to pilot 3D printing innovations. The hub will be a connection between HP and others like BASF, GKN Metallurgy, Siemens, Volkswagen and others in a variety of sectors.

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