A quick review of the technology market related to workforce and labor management and one can conclude one major perception: the world of business has many critical avenues from which to drive efficiencies, value, and visibility. For instance, take a brief look at how companies today are managing all facets of their non-employee workforce: Vendor Management Systems (VMS) provide a veritable “nexus” for critical contingent workforce management (CWM) processes via automated capabilities (ranging from analytics to SOW management to even talent-sourcing), online talent platforms enable real-time talent engagement (amongst a variety of other key labor automation capabilities), and various other solutions (from blockchain to machine learning) are paving the way for the Future of Work.
The “new world of work” dictates that skillsets, project alignment, and quality of talent lead the way in regard to how enterprise initiatives are addressed. Remote workers, temporary staff, freelancers, independent contractors, professional services…these are fast-becoming the foundational workforce elements of the next-generation talent bench, actively supporting day-to-day operations and, most times, contributing key insights and impact to mission-critical enterprise projects.
The way work is changing is very much reflected in how automation and technology are evolving to meet the needs of the progressive, agile enterprise. Late last year, two VMS powerhouses (Beeline and IQNavigator) merged and are actively pushing the boundaries of what Vendor Management Systems can do for global organizations via new offerings that are being developed from the combination of the two platforms. SAP Fieldglass (acquired well over three years ago by SAP) just recently launched its first foray into deep machine learning to further augment the most critical piece of CWM (visibility and intelligence) in addition to launching an SMB-focused version of their VMS tool, Flex. DCRWorkforce provides unique services in addition to its core VMS solution, such as gamification and a version of their platform that is tailored for SMB organizations (a growing segment when it comes to contingent workforce technology). ZeroChaos has long been a relied-upon provider of integrated MSP, VMS, and compliance management offerings.
Beyond the core contingent workforce management platforms that are progressively shifting their offerings to match the evolution of the industry, enterprises today desire to directly-influence the relationship between itself and its external talent. Businesses today are living in a new era of workforce management technology, one that will traverse beyond siloed talent management strategies. In essence, all platforms related to managing the business workforce will soon no longer center around traditional issues such as cost or budgets, but rather: “How is work going to get done?”
There are two main reasons why this is the question that is asked today:
- Innovation = work optimization. In a recent article published here at CPO Rising, we outlined four items that signal a new age of work. The impact of innovation today falls into one key arena: optimizing how work is addressed. Artificial intelligence mimics human thinking, supporting enterprise strategy and revolutionizing tactical operations (and soon, strategic operations). Machine learning is the next wave of the Big Data uprising. Augmented reality is not only bringing together remote and office workers, but can also be leveraged to give prospective talent candidates a peek at enterprise culture. Blockchain could soon transform certain digital attributes of global organizations. Together, these innovations answer a simple question of how work can be done. Will it be augmented via AI? Is the answer driven by next-generation intelligence culled from machine learning and predictive analytics? Will the “talent” addressing this work be robotic or human? And, in real-time, business leaders have the answer to the most burning question today.
- Access to talent is evolving. Five years ago, the bulk of non-employee labor was found, engaged, and sourced via several primary means: directly via interpersonal connections (through some social networks), through staffing suppliers and vendors, and direct engagements with professional service providers. Today, this game has changed significantly; the arrival of online talent platform and labor automation tools means that enterprises in 2017 can understand the dynamics of a specific project, pinpoint which type of skillsets are required, and engage the best-aligned talent…all in near real-time and in an on-demand manner. The realm of online and digital staffing has transformed the way work is done, presenting a critical and underlying support valve for the Future of Work: find and engage the right talent when and where enterprises need it.
In relation to point #2 above, online talent platforms have become a formidable means for businesses to augment their workforce in an on-demand manner. Solutions like Catalant, Upwork, Shiftgig, FieldNation, and Wonolo are actively pushing the boundaries of digital talent engagement and are enabling more and more enterprises to tap into the ever-growing pool of real-time independent talent (Ardent’s research, as stated before on CPO Rising, states that 38% of today’s total workforce is considered of non-employee talent). As the evolution of talent engagement becomes more of a foundational cog in the Future of Work machine (alongside such powerful innovations such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotic process automation, augmented reality, and blockchain), online staffing outlets and labor automation outlets will continue to grow in utilization, prominence, and impact.
Earlier this week, WorkMarket announced that it had acquired Freelancer Management System (FMS) provider OnForce (from Adecco Group). This major market move proves that the online talent and labor automation spaces are market-shifting forces that further the very ideals held in the Future of Work. Pertinent to the conversation at hand, it is deals like this that support the evolution of talent management and the further progression of the new world of work.
“This acquisition represents a historic milestone for our young company as we enter the next stage of our growth and expand our portfolio of premier IT service customers,” Jeff Wald, WorkMarket Co-Founder and President, told CPO Rising. “We remain committed to our vision of building world-class automation software and helping our customers transform their business.”
The technology and partner ecosystem that is being built across all work optimization platforms (from VMS to online staffing to human capital management software) is addressing the one facet businesses require to become more agile and competitive: how work is done.
Post Script: We’d love for you to help us chart the Future of Work and the Contingent Workforce. If you have 5 minutes to spare, please take our survey — you’ll get the resulting report when it publishes this fall. Thanks!