Between the Contingent Workforce Weekly podcast and insights here on CPO Rising, we’ve come to learn that the Future of Work runs on three core attributes: technology, talent, and the convergence of the two. As the world of work continues to evolve, more and more focus will revolve around the idea that flexibility and transformational thinking are crucial elements in how the modern business addresses how work is done.
The world of digital staffing is incredibly relevant today for one critical reason: it represents the very “convergence” of talent and technology. Last year’s State of Contingent Workforce Management research study uncovered (amongst many, many other findings) two illustrative points about this new world of work:
Also known as online talent platforms and talent marketplaces, digital staffing outlets allow businesses to leverage on-demand access to a deep pool of workers, align these workers’ skillsets/expertise with project requirements via “matching” algorithms, and, in some cases (for those platforms that offer enterprise-level services/functionality), provide analytics to understand talent gaps, utilization of talent, and other key insights related to how work is done.
Last week, digital staffing giant Upwork (often considered the largest solution in this digital staffing space) filed for its Initial Public Offering (IPO), the first major step in taking the company public. While financial details and the expected initial price are conjecture at this point, the move itself speaks volumes about the meta-industry that is brewing within the contingent workforce and talent management landscapes.
What Does This Mean for Upwork?
Simply put, after years of significant year-over-year growth, the move makes natural sense for Upwork. As previously noted, they have been the relative giant in the online/digital staffing industry for several years now, with consistent rounds of venture capital-backed funding. The “household name” effect will be compounded by the public filing and will certainly boost the company’s brand into new business arenas. From a technology perspective, this big move comes on the heels of the solution’s announcements of its Program Owner Experience solution, a new extension of Upwork Enterprise (the company’s platform that is geared for larger, enterprise-size customers). The POE offering’s main goal is to assist these larger businesses develop more robust talent engagement programs and better tap into the world of agile talent by allowing its users to track skills gaps, monitor program performance (by hiring manager, region, location, etc.), and understand how the overall business is leveraging non-employee labor.
What Does This Mean for the Market?
Ardent Partners research has found that utilization of digital staffing platforms has doubled over the past two years and is expected to rise yet again in 2018. As more and more businesses strive for organizational agility, the realm of real-time talent engagement is a foundational element in how work is done. In fact, the simple notion of “search and select” is old hat now in this industry; there are several disruptors in the digital staffing industry that are offering functionality and services that traverse beyond mere talent engagement.
Upwork’s IPO filing won’t just affect the company itself…there are far-reaching ramifications of this colossal move. Much like Vendor Management System (VMS) technology has spent the past several years closing in on true “enterprise technology” territory, this move also assists other digital staffing providers share the limelight. Upwork’s IPO filing signals a new age for the Gig Economy, one that may finally burst the bubble between the consumer and business worlds. For nearly three years now, the very notion of the Gig Economy has divided enterprise executives between those that buy into it as a critical source of new talent, and others that see it as merely a consumer-based fad.
While companies like Uber, Lyft, and AirBnB steal most of the Gig Economy-induced headlines, the truth is that the flexible world of gig-based lifestyles represents a major shift in how companies perceive and engage their talent. Simply put: the Gig Economy is no fad, but rather another indication that the world of work is evolving.
As for the impact of this news on the rest of the online and digital staffing market, the following providers will certainly experience the positive fallout of more attention on this growing and progressive arena of technology:
The world of digital staffing doesn’t end there, however. From providers that leverage blockchain technology to revolutionize talent engagement (BHIRED) to platforms that have yet to launch to the public but show vast promise (AmalgaNation), the fallout from Upwork’s recent news is sweet to the ears of providers across this evolving industry.
Be sure to take 15 minutes and participate in the new State of Contingent Workforce Management research survey, which will highlight the place of digital staffing in the new world of work. Click here to participate in the survey (all participants will receive a complimentary edition of the resulting research report).
NEW RESEARCH SURVEY: The State of Contingent Workforce Management
The Real Value of Today’s Contingent Workforce
The State of Contingent Workforce Management: How The World of Work is Changing
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