Business Models: Talent On-Demand

Changing the way successful companies are getting work done

The breakneck pace of software systems innovation combined with acute skills shortages are reshaping business operating models and, importantly, talent acquisition strategies worldwide. Business leaders are increasingly under pressure to create value in a bigger, better, faster way. But, all too often, there is a chasm between the thinking and the doing, and that’s having a huge impact on outcomes.

We are at the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where technology is dramatically changing our behaviour as humans. To survive in data-driven, on-demand, commerce-at-our-fingertips societies, brands must respond lightning quick. But action is hampered if the right skills aren’t available in the right way and at the right time. In time, creative and advanced applications of Artificial Intelligence will play deep and broad roles to advance both employee and customer experiences, but today, and in the near to mid-term, businesses are finding that the people they need are in short supply.

Companies are being forced to rethink the way they find and hire valuable talent. They are beginning to embrace a model where professional skills and services, much like consumer experiences, are available in near real-time.

Many businesses struggle to execute the strategies they know are necessary for success. Often, their workforces are organised, tooled and trained for today (or yesterday) rather than for tomorrow. In digital transformations of marketing and customer experiences, for example, the problems are far worse.  Who, for example, could have predicted the scramble for data scrutiny and security that would have erupted in a post Cambridge Analytica world?  Even the much anticipated and documented GDPR legislation has left many organisations unprepared, reeling and confused. Critical execution skills are in short supply: data scientists and engineers, marketing technology and commerce systems experts, customer experience and personalization pros and many more.

Needs and expectations

Customers’ expectations and behaviours, too, are changing rapidly, driven by mobile, social media and, increasingly, tailored recommendations and personalizations driven by the application of artificial intelligence. They are turning to “leave me alone”, self-serve models and eagerly embracing ad-blockers and filters to escape unwanted marketing noise. They want to be remembered, even across different platforms and customer experiences, and to know what they want. But not too well!

More than ever, anticipating needs and generating delight are business-critical endeavours. There are vast lakes of data to analyse, but they require unique skills to navigate them and from which to capture meaningful insight for truly valuable business decisions can be taken.

Because of this laser focus, both established and emerging businesses are being disrupted and displaced by more nimble competitors. Everywhere, there is pressure to perform. Not only to see what needs doing, but also to execute to compete right back, and to win. Incumbent businesses are frequently hampered by legacy investments in technology, by bureaucracy, culture and the high fixed cost of their talent. Lithe and agile newcomers can side-step, leapfrog or simply ignore incumbents while they struggle out of their ruts.

Why is this such an issue now?

For many businesses, the skills they need are not the skills they have. They lack experience, too; the scars and war-stories of recent deployments using the latest tech.  Critical operators may be scarce, but business needs them “right now”; not when the cogs of Human Resources and recruitment have been tasked to move along their, invariably, glacial, mechanical, habit-formed processes. HR Transformation will soon be high on the agenda of the big four consulting firms, right up there with Digital Transformation and others.

And, not only do they need to turn those skills on at will, they need to turn them off again, afterwards. The skills required for execution may not be the same as those for operation. Over half of all firms find it hard to attract and retain churn happy millennials, and the pool of permanent hires is shrinking as roles become ever more specific and commoditised. Freelancers and independents already make up more than a third of the workforce. In the US, this is forecast to reach nearly half by 2020.  So it stands to reason that traditional resourcing and recruiting models are no longer fit for purpose.

With Accenture already claiming that within a decade we will see a new type of company with no employees outside of the C-suite, how much longer can the corporate world spend chasing tomorrow’s talent with yesterday’s script.

There’s no doubt the shape of the workforce has changed enormously. Millennials are now the largest generation in the workplace and the potential to outsource (or freelance) work across the globe has never been greater. Workstyles and expectations are different in an always-on, mobile, social media world. The employee-employer covenant has changed, too. The things “good companies” can offer no longer appeal to a large swathe of the talent those companies need.

The average job vacancy in the US takes six weeks to fill. But that’s just from posting the vacancy to offering the job. Add on the time taken to draft and approve the job spec for a new role, and the period before a new hire actually joins – not to mention the onboarding before they are up to speed – and it can easily be three months before the talent you need hits the ground. It takes even longer in Europe where longer notice periods extend the process. And, it takes longer still for hard-to-source skills.

Recruiting a “permanent” employee is an expensive business

There are headhunter fees, training and induction costs, insurances, pensions and other overheads, plus employment taxes. It’s important to get it right … so, it’s no wonder the process takes so long. But, a payrolled hire is an instant fixed cost – and a relatively fixed set of skills. Often, the skills needed to deliver value or implement a new strategy are not the same skills needed once the product, service or process is embedded. Traditional resourcing can be a slow and expensive way to acquire skills which may be obsolete in six months’ time.

Another traditional approach has been to outsource specialist functions to large consulting firms or marketing services agencies. But, where those functions are central to competitive strategy, organisations are finding those routes can also be very slow or even dead ends. It can be extortionately expensive, too. And, those partners have the same problems in finding talent.

Talent on-demand

So what’s the solution? Many leading organisations are re-thinking their approaches to resourcing, moving from an Industrial Age model to one of skills and services On-Demand.

In re-engineering their workforces for faster, more fluid deployment of skills: an on-demand services model gives businesses the skills and experience required, when required and for as long as required. That could be for the next three days, the next 3 months or 3 days per month for the foreseeable future. Increasingly, smart, ambitious business leaders are turning to structured, secure, low-risk professional marketplace platforms where they can quickly (within minutes) access the talent they need, get her/him/them onboard equally as fast and, end-to-end, get work done, pay for it, provide feedback and then do it again. All seamlessly, direct and from anywhere.

An effective market attracts buyers and sellers through focus and reputation. Whether it’s Seattle’s Pike Place Market or Antwerp’s diamond centre, buyers know they have the best chance of finding what they want. If you need a pro with deep Google Analytics, Datorama, Salesforce chops and related systems integration skills, or an extra pairs of hands to get some important audience targeting taxonomy, UX product analytics or customer segmentation work done, 200,000 logo designers won’t help. So the laser focus of vertically aligned talent marketplaces, such as MeasureMatch, which uniquely provides access to expert data scientists, data engineers and technology specialists to solve for marketing and customer experience business opportunities, are becoming essential new weapons in the recruitment armoury.

But how do these early adopters of the new model know the CX Analytics expert they’ve engaged is any good?

The best marketplaces screen and vet the talent, of course, but, like in the on-demand food delivery or transportation services worlds, star ratings and written feedback are also standard operating procedure. While talent selection via on-demand services presents similar challenges to that of a permanent hire process, with on-demand talent there’s far less risk. And it’s the same story with risk of both timing and investment.  Traditional hiring can take three months or more. Engaging a blue-chip consulting firm, about the same. On-demand gets the talent needed, on the ground, as soon as possible.  Outsourcing to large agencies, with high overheads, can be expensive. Often firms feel they are paying senior rates for junior talent as time progresses. With on-demand talent, pricing and fees will be fully transparent, negotiated and, generally, good value for both buyers and sellers. And, importantly, easily adjustable if things don’t work out.

To learn more about how MeasureMatch delivers on-demand talent visit:

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