Author Archives: Andrew Karpie



WorkMarket’s Acquisition of OnForce: Why It Takes a Village, Not Uberization

We recently covered WorkMarket’s acquisition of field services execution platform OnForce from the staffing industry giant Adecco Group. While this M&A activity could easily be viewed as just a “tuck in acquisition” (into WorkMarket’s field services solution vertical), it is really more than that. Considering the comprehensive deal and its context provides a different perspective on the strategic development of this particular digital work platform, as well as on digital work platforms in general.

This Spend Matters PRO brief addresses HR and contingent workforce procurement practitioners who are trying to understand the emergence of digital work platforms and the ongoing transformation of the enterprise and the execution of work. It provides an overview and introduction to OnForce and WorkMarket, offers sector definitions to cut through the jargon and introduces the different components of the field services contractor management technology market as well as alternative providers.

Finally, it offers analysis on the future of the OnForce/WorkMarket combination and the future of online work intermediation platforms in general — and why collaboration and ecosystem relationships are key to driving change in established B2B industries.

WorkMarket Acquires OnForce: Not Such a Big Deal, or More Significant Than It Appears?

WorkMarket announced Wednesday that it has acquired OnForce from The Adecco Group for an undisclosed amount, forming a strategic partnership with Addeco as part of the deal, according to a press release. The acquisition of OnForce will increase WorkMarket’s existing footprint in the field tech contractor work execution vertical. OnForce, founded in 2003, was a pioneer in that segment, which WorkMarket entered in 2010.

The Emerging World of Digitally Intermediated Work: Old vs. New — or Something Else? (Part 2)

The digital transformation in contingent labor and outcomes-based services within procurement today is happening now. In contrast to indirect procurement and direct procurement, where traditional intermediaries and sourcing models have remained largely untouched by limited new disruptive entrants, the services procurement sector is in the early stages of transformation due to fundamental changes in labor-driven connectivity to demand.

Although adoption of these solutions has varied to date, incumbent staffing, consultancy and other labor intermediaries are indeed coopting and engaging these new models — an important indicator of their trajectory. Moreover, to deny this trend is to turn your back on dozens of solutions that connect specialized labor markets with end users in the business, not to mention the hundreds of millions in funding that these new, innovative intermediaries have received in recent years.

This two-part Spend Matters PRO research brief explores the evolution of digitally intermediated work. In the first installment, we explored digitization in the context of new staffing and labor models today, explaining how these new models can complement and work alongside traditional incumbent approaches. We also explored how organizations can incorporate labor-based digitization into familiar contingent and services procurement models and practices. In Part 2, we turn our attention to summarizing the key trends that procurement, HR and IT practitioners need to be aware of, and we provide key recommendations to put digital services transformation to work for you — rather than against you.

The Emerging World of Digitally Intermediated Work: Old vs. New — or Something Else? (Part 1)

digital business transformation

Fact: New, digitally enabled models and marketplaces for sourcing labor, talent, skills, expertise and services have started to emerge in recent years. Yet “talent brokers” have always existed in the labor market — work arrangements have long been intermediated by staffing firms and service providers. Viewed from this lens, what is happening now is not so much disintermediation of those intermediaries but rather the emergence and evolution of new intermediation models that, at their core, take advantage of digital technologies. While these models are appearing in the market as new solutions offered by new companies (e.g., Upwork, Catalant, Hired, WorkMarket), gradually they are also being incorporated and adopted by incumbent staffing and service provider intermediaries (e.g., Randstad, GRI, MBO Partners, PwC, Deloitte).

This two-part Spend Matters PRO research brief explores the evolution of digitally intermediated work. In the first installment, we take inventory of the current staffing and labor models today and how digitization alters the structure and properties of work compared with staffing models. We also explore the comparative sourcing and provisioning of digital talent, as well as how organizations can structure and consume these new services — compared with traditional approaches. Finally, we consider the current state of digitally enabled work arrangements and intermediaries. In Part 2 of this series, we summarize and structure key takeaways from all of the current trends and provide recommendations for practitioners.

Why Human Capital Innovation is More Relevant Than Ever for Procurement (ICYMI)

Highly skilled, specialized talent (e.g., business subject-area consultants, new technology experts) is critical to organizations today. Not only is such talent often in short supply, it is also often needed for a limited time (and sometimes on demand) to make specific contributions to particular projects. This becomes more relevant as organizations continue to evolve toward dynamic, agile, project-centric ways of achieving specific value-adding outcomes. Earlier this year, we began a three-part series that addresses different aspects of human capital innovation.

Beeline: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview

Beeline is a global “external workforce management solutions” provider and, alongside SAP Fieldglass, one of the top two providers of VMS solutions globally, based on volume and revenue. After years occupying the traditional VMS software category, the company has begun to expand its solution in a number of different directions to address the changing needs of enterprise clients at a time when external workforce utilization is increasing and new technology solutions for sourcing and managing contingent workforce and services (CW/S) are required.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help buying organizations make informed decisions about whether they need a solution like Beeline as provider of VMS software or a provider of technology-based CW/S solutions beyond traditional VMS. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Beeline. Parts 2 and 3 of this multipart research brief cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, user selection guides and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Note: Since Beeline merged with IQNavigator in 2016, there have been two VMS technology platforms operating under the Beeline brand. (A process to “converge” the two platforms on a new, state-of-the-art technology architecture is underway.) In this particular Vendor Snapshot, the section Beeline Solution Overview — Offerings and Functionality (below) focuses only on the Beeline VMS technology platform, pending separate treatment of the IQN platform. The order of treatment is in no way intended to suggest a ranking of one platform over the other.

IT Talent and Services Sourcing: Innovation in a Challenging Environment (Part 2)

IT

In this two-part series, we examine the state of technology-based sourcing, specifically in the IT workforce/services category. In Part 1, we looked into environmental factors that are driving innovation and other elements that are motivating openness to new approaches. In Part 2, we investigate different kinds of innovative sourcing solutions within the IT category and explore the emergence of an alternative supply chain or work/services sourcing ecosystem. We also provide recommendations for organizations to nurture and build alternative sourcing models and programs alongside existing IT services procurement channels. Providers reviewed in this brief include Hired, Toptal, Upwork and Kaggle.

IT Talent and Services Sourcing: Innovation in a Challenging Environment (Part 1)

Technology-based innovation in workforce and services sourcing has been a major focus here at Spend Matters over the past years. And though we have tracked the trend of increasing work platform specialization (platforms serving up anything from data scientists to marketing content deliverables to food service workers), we have not really zeroed in on sourcing innovation in any specific workforce or services category.

In this two-part Spend Matters Plus brief, we take a look at what’s happening in the IT workforce/services category. In part 1, we look into environmental factors that are driving innovation and other elements motivating openness to new approaches. In part 2, we examine some examples of different kinds of innovative sourcing solutions in the category.

Human Capital Innovation (Part 3): Is the C-Suite Asleep at the Wheel?

Adopting a new way of leveraging talent means changing critical parts of an organization’s underlying musculature and nervous system. Ultimately, such a change requires a transformation of the reflex response of “how we get things done with talent.” This means a departure from well-established practices for hiring talent and managing work, projects and outcomes. In many ways, this is a decentralized, bottom-up process, but it cannot gain traction without the proactive support and power of the C-suite.

How Innovative is Your VMS Provider?

disruption

What does it mean when a technology provider is innovative — or not? Innovation has been defined as the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, unarticulated needs or existing market needs (Maranville, 1992). By this definition, is your vendor management system (VMS) provider innovative — or not? In this Spend Matters Plus brief:

  • We discuss why identifying and calibrating VMS innovation is especially important today.
  • We pose the obvious, practical question: How can you judge if a VMS solution is innovating?
  • We provide an up-to-date framework to help you make that assessment (based on specific innovation criteria specific to services procurement).
  • We suggest how to use this framework in the context of vendor evaluation and vendor management (performance/innovation management).

OII Research Offers Insights for Fostering Enterprise Adoption of Online Labor Platforms

SpendLead

The first two posts of this Spend Matters series covered the Online Labour Index and related data (here an here). In this post, we cover other OII research focused on enterprise adoption of online labor platforms. This research was conducted and summarized in two OII blog posts by Gretta Corporaal, postdoctoral researcher in organizational studies at OXII. Notably, Corporaal’s research includes “the stories of two Fortune 500 firms [which] successfully adopted and integrated online freelancing in their business models.”

Solution Provider Product and Technology Roadmaps: Are They Important?

spend visiblity

The short answer to the question posed in the title is emphatically and definitively “yes” — now more than ever. When screening or evaluating technology solution providers for e-procurement, contract lifecycle management, vendor management systems (VMS) or any other solution, there is frequently an inherent present and backward-looking bias in evaluating and making decisions about these solutions. Considering only what solutions have done or are doing for their clients (and ex-clients) only tells so much about whether or not the solution is a good fit.

There are probably a number of reasons for this bias, including that it may have led to optimal decisions in the past because vendors often over-promised and only partially delivered. But in today’s world, this bias can handicap a procurement organization given the growing number of new solutions and rapid changes in technology. Whether intentional or not on the part of the solution provider, “adverse selection” may come into play here — to the detriment of all. By not knowing where a provider plans or intends to (or actually can) take its solution in the future, the buyer is missing crucial information that could result in a bad decision. Making sure that roadmaps are reviewed and analyzed is an important way to mitigate this risk.

In this Spend Matters PRO research brief, we explore this problem and make suggestions to support ways to move beyond it, including how to look at a provider’s product and technology maps from a 2017 cloud-era frame of reference. For those who are new to this topic, we start with the basics, providing an explanation of what vendor product and technology roadmaps are, what they should contain and what you should expect.