Three drivers for the continued growth of contingent labor.
By Christopher Dwyer
In today’s day and age, business functions and processes often mimic the consumer world when advancements are made in technology, software, and solutions. Better yet, when combined with the natural evolution of enterprise technology, such as the advents of cloud-based software and agile business analytics, certain corporate operations have been revolutionized in recent years.
No one will argue that the realm of contingent workforce management has become an extremely critical function in the greater scope of today’s flexible economy. Companies across the globe have realized that, in order to reach their most important goals and objectives, they require the top skillsets and workers—regardless of the sources of that talent.
Where we are now is an exciting culmination of transformative thinking and technology, both of which are actively pushing contingent workforce management into a new era. Combined with the growth of the non- traditional talent industry (Ardent Partners expects that, within the next three years, 45 percent to 50 percent of the total global workforce will be considered non- employee, contingent or independent), today’s “flex economy” has become perhaps the most powerful force in how companies strive for ultimate success.
Ardent Partners has identified several key areas that are actively sparking the transformation of today’s non- employee workforce:
- Interconnected business networks meet on-demand, non-traditional talent. The “networked economy” has transformed total business commerce, helping buyers, sellers, suppliers, and partners to contribute to an ever- growing global marketplace. Connected, transparent, and effortless, today’s business networks are traversing beyond procurement and financial operations. The era of on-demand talent now allows organizations to find, source, and engage the best-aligned workers and skillsets in a real-time manner (via mobile applications, freelancer marketplaces, etc.) and reconcile/automate operational processes and capabilities (invoicing, spend and supplier management, back-end analytics, workforce management, etc.).
- The age of visibility and intelligence. Ask grizzled business executives about big data and they may grumble about corporate fads and buzzwords. Big data may be an annoying phrase to hear so often, but the fact of the matter is that the age of visibility and intelligence has collided with today’s contingent workforce management programs. Having access to not only real-time data and information, but real-time intelligence, is a critical factor in determining how the non-employee workforce impacts greater organizational goals and objectives. Today’s contingent workforce management programs rely on true intelligence to understand how non-traditional talent is performing in relation to SOW-based projects and other enterprise initiatives.
- Concentrations of talent beyond the traditional employee footprint. The next phase of the non-employee workforce evolution will revolve around concentrations of talent beyond the traditional employee footprint and how business executives conduct long-term planning based on their networks of freelance, independent, and contingent talent. Today’s on-demand, flex economy dictates that companies across the globe integrate non-employee workers into their organizations at an evolutionary pace, with true concentrations of talent beyond traditional measures. As business needs continue to evolve, companies will find that the skillsets and talent they require to be successful will sit just outside their employee footprint.
Christopher J. Dwyer is a research director at Ardent Partners, a leading supply management research, analyst and advisory firm based in Boston. He can be contacted via Twitter (@CJD_Ardent) or firstname.lastname@example.org.