Ardent Partners is excited to launch a two-part series on the ever-changing concept of talent engagement and how today’s non-employee workforce is consistently evolving due to new platforms, solutions, technologies, and functional models. Today’s article: a deep discussion of the disruptive technologies and solutions that are changing how talent is found, engaged, sourced, and managed…and how they will impact the future of non-employee workforce management.

Today’s total workforce continues to “blend” with a mix of talent (35% of the 2015 workforce is considered non-employee, according to new Ardent Partners research), and businesses in 2015 (and, of course, looking ahead to 2016…) must revolutionize their talent engagement strategies and programs to ensure that, internally, there is an idyllic alignment between critical projects, tasks, and initiatives, and their required skillsets and expertise. With the non-employee workforce expected to grow significantly in the coming years (Ardent predicts it will hit 50% by the end of 2018), it is imperative that businesses understand the disruptive technologies, solutions, and platforms that are revolutionizing talent engagement in 2015, 2016, and beyond.

Online Talent Platforms: Disrupting Both Sides of the Engagement Coin

By now, nearly every business understands the “new normal” in the world of talent acquisition: no matter the enterprise need or depth of skillset required, a company can source, in real-time and in an on-demand manner, workers or services that align with overall requirements. This concept, the “future of work,” has revolutionized how businesses approach their talent acquisition strategies, and accounts for the rampant growth in the contingent workforce industry.

One of the most impactful reasons for this growth is the rise of online talent platforms, solutions that facilitate on-demand talent engagement while also leveraging functionality or integrated capabilities (i.e., VMS) to holistically manage operational processes, such as payment, invoicing, “talent matching,” and full automation of talent pools and linkage to interconnected talent networks across the globe. These platforms are certainly pushing the industry forward for businesses, who can tap into their power to find top-tier, high-quality talent.

The other side of the coin is the ability for freelance and independent talent to utilize these platforms to promote their skillsets and find the businesses that are in need of their expertise. Online talent platforms represent a fresh new way for independent workers, who may have been concerned about their ability to market themselves or unsure about how to tap into larger business networks, to link to enterprises across the globe in real-time. This certainly has pushed more and more alumni, retirees, “silver medalists,” and skilled workers who crave flexibility into the world of independence.

(What’s often missed in the conversation regarding the growth of the non-employee workforce is the recent shifts in how health care is dispersed across the country, allowing for more flexible workers to take advantage of a long-time benefit that was only typically available to them in traditional employment.)

The Evolution of CWM Technology

Technology must evolve along with the industries it addresses; this is a simple fact in today’s ever-evolving business world. Those solutions that cannot keep pace with the economy and the shifting requirements of enterprise functions will fade away. In the arena of contingent workforce management (CWM), much of the focus on innovation and new functionality follows a few key areas:

  • The progression of Vendor Management System (VMS) technology. By now, everyone knows the backstory behind VMS: what was originally designed as “e-procurement for staffing” has evolved over the years as a true “nexus” for CWM. With adaptable functionality that can address intelligence/analytics, supplier management, SOW management, talent management, compliance management, and project management, VMS solutions remain the #1 technology in use in 2015 CWM programs.
  • The rise of Freelancer Management Systems (FMS) and other platforms. As the freelance and independent category of contingent workers (known as “self-sourced” talent) continues to grow, so will specific solutions conceived to manage this component of today’s non-employee workforce. FMS technology has risen due to its intricate capabilities for tapping into freelance talent pools, helping users build unique networks of known and best-fit talent across the world, and facilitating compliance, payment, and milestone/project management.
  • The concept of integration and its impact on the future of the industry. As the contingent workforce industry grew more complex, integration became a “must-have” for those businesses that wanted to drive ultimate value from their non-employee labor while also managing to the evolution of how talent is engaged and sourced. To drive visibility, take advantage of the wide world of on-demand talent, and better align talent to core project requirements, businesses must look to the integration between contingent workforce, procurement, and human capital management technology. Addressing budget, compliance, spend, and workforce/talent-related capabilities, companies can finally begin to build “total workforce management” or “total talent management” programs that can manage all enterprise talent under a single, centralized umbrella of processes and systems.

The World Ahead

It seems that, with each passing year, the realm of talent engagement evolves considerably due to shifts in the social, economic, political, personal, and business perspectives of the modern world. There is no business category that has evolved as much as the non-employee workforce, and, with disruptive strategies, technologies, and solutions changing how talent is found, engaged, and sourced, the years ahead will prove to be transformative in how work is done.

Talent engagement will be one of many exciting topics covered at Ardent Partners’ inaugural CPO Rising procurement executive summit to be held in Boston on March 29-30, 2016. Early-bird registration ends next month, so be sure to reserve your spot now and save! Click here!


Call for Speakers – CPO Rising 2016

Delving Deeper into the Current State of Contingent Workforce Management

The Disruption of Talent Engagement, Part I: Procurement’s New Role in CWM

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