Featured post

Tues Eve, 12/9/14, in SF (city), Next SF Bay Area Online Staffing/Human Cloud Platform Meet-up Event (Hosted by Elance-oDesk, Video by CXC Global)

download (1)Sometimes it’s just necessary to build new bridges — for example, between people who need to have work done and other people who want to provide that work.  “Online staffing and other human cloud platforms” are about building those bridges.  And many of those new bridges, connecting people and work, are being built right here in San Francisco.

Join and RSVP for the Tues Dec 9th Event – “Spotlight on the SF Online Work Platform Epicenter” – featuring these SF-based leading online work platform companies (reverse alpha order) and speakers:

Visual.ly  –  CEO, Matt CooperScreenshot_34
Task Rabbit – VP Operations,  Ian Arthurs
Gigwalk –  CTO, Matt Crampton
E-O – Director Enterprise Marketing, Lauren Schulte
CrowdFlower — Founder/CEO, Lucas Biewald

The focus of this MeetUp and the speakers will be to highlight the diverse SF Bay Area community of Online Work Platform companies. In terms of numbers of companies and diversity of innovators, the SF Bay Area is clearly the global epicenter for this new, expanding space. We’ll have a great set of speakers (from a representative sample of work platform companies) who will each in turn speak briefly about the journey of their businesses to date, where they are today, and what they think lies ahead.  Followed by discussion/Q&A.

So register/RSVP here and join us to build new bridges.




Featured post

My slant on “How You Can Prepare For The Future Of Work Today” – Forbes interview of SAP’s Mike Ettling

Forbes author Dan Schawbel recently interviewed Mike Ettling, the President, HR Line of Business, for SAP/SucessFactors, published in the article: “Mike Ettling: How You Can Prepare For The Future Of Work Today?” 

The following were my favorite excerpted quotes:

To me, the future of work is going to be a highly diverse workforce, looking for flexibility and an environment that encourages and supports collaboration, where lifelong learners can all be teachers and students at the same time. Already we also see companies are relying much more heavily on contingent workers and specialists. By identifying and better understanding workforce realities, we can be much more specific in how we can help HR get beyond our current challenges and meet the future head on.”

“Companies need the resources to really change their cultures and promote continuous learning, where everyone is both a student and a teacher. It starts at the top – executives need to understand that developing talent doesn’t have to mean bringing in people from outside the organization: give people easy access to learning resources, from anywhere; provide a social platform for collaborative learning and development; give people programs where they can track their progress; and allow people to take advantage of the MOOC model that’s started to change our higher education system. That’s how skills should be developed to address the needs of both leadership and employees based on what they are saying and what we are seeing.”

“We view the incredible growth of the contingent workforce – that is, anyone not on the full-time payroll – to be the single largest workforce transformation happening today. This is because the contingent workforce goes beyond just freelancers; it encompasses agencies, contractors, seasonal help in retail, and part-time developers of large technology projects. It’s advantageous to companies because they can staff up or down to address real-time needs, and they have access to specialists for specific projects. From an economic perspective, it makes companies more competitive and profitable. … From an employee perspective, one impact we cannot ignore is benefits. As more workers become contingents, additional safety nets will have to be developed to make sure they receive comparable benefits to traditional employees. Contingent workers are over one third of the total workforce population – that’s millions of people. Their impact cannot be ignored and the benefits will eventually catch up to their influence. On the flip side, this type of fluid work allows people to develop new skills, become experts in their communities, and adapt work to their lifestyles, working more or less as they need.”

“We now know that the era of the traditional workforce and the company loyalist is over. It appears that executives have met this trend of shorter job tenures by placing more value in employee loyalty. However, rather than placing more emphasis on length of employment alone, leaders must listen to their employees’ needs and desires – competitive compensation, suitable benefits, training, mentorship, etc. – and work to develop a mutually beneficial relationship. Leaders who take the necessary steps to encourage loyalty will find themselves surrounded by employees dedicated to them and the company’s success.”

My observation:  All of this is spot on.  However, a conclusion that was not drawn out explicitly is that the loyalty bond will need to be extended not just to “permanent full-time employees” (even when permanent means “tours of duty”), but to contingent, independent workers as well.  “Degree of affiliation” is term I find myself using more often…  How persistent, bi-laterally value-creating, mutually accommodating,  trusting and transparent, richly communicative, etc.. is the relationship between an organization and a worker?  All of these components of positive vs. negative “affiliation” (or loyalty vs. disloyalty) can exist across all kinds of work arrangements and labor contracts (whether at-will employment contract, seasonal or part-time employment contract, or independent contract agreement/SOW, etc.).  But whatever you want to call it, and however you conceptualize, it’s something that organizations will also have to achieve with a workforce that is in part independent and on-the-move, contingent.

Featured post


OWAPI realized I had never published the slides from my presentation at HR.com Talent Acquisition  Forum (San Francisco-January 27, 2014), even though they provided a nice simple encapsulation of how platforms are transforming contingent work arrangements. 

Seemed like the information is still months later. For those interested, please find the slides in a pdf by clicking here:  2014 HRCOM Pres

Featured post

The FMS (Freelancer Management System): What Is It? And Why Now?

Screenshot_27This white paper, which I wrote for OnForce in early 2014, provides an overview of the emerging type of solution that will allow organizations to support an increasingly independent, digitally networked, and plug-n-play workforce that is becoming a critical part of the new  “total talent management, “blended/extended workforce” world.

The white paper can be accessed at this link: Freelancer_Management_Whitepaper_2014.pdf    (click this link, then scroll down).

Note:  OnForce uses the term FMS or Freelancer Management System to describe this kind of solution, and the term has also been used by other providers.   I have recently begun to use an alternative term IWMS (Independent Workforce Management Solution), preferring to avoid the term “freelancer” and its various connotations.  However, in any case, we are all referring to the same set of developments.


Featured post

My recent SIA research report on “Crowdsourcing” types of platforms

Crowdsourcing-Platforms_mediumMy recent research report, “Crowdsourcing Platforms — Mapping the Advanced Frontier of the Human Cloud Platform Landscape,” was published at Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA). The report describes attributes and cites examples of these platforms and also identifies the characteristics and dimensions of the segment space.

Summary/Excerpt from the Report Introduction follows here:

“Crowdsourcing” has become a widely used term with a wide range of meanings. For our purposes, it refers to an online platform-based process of inviting and engaging numerous paid online workers from a dispersed, often massive, labor population to each perform a quite narrowly defined/scoped unit of work, which, when collected and processed further by the platform, will lead to an expected value added outcome for the client.

Within the SIA Human Cloud platform lexicon, Crowdsourcing represents a group of platforms that, although sometimes having some shared characteristics, are fairly distinct from Online Staffing and Online Services platforms. They also seem to represent some of the most innovative models for organizing certain kinds of work and workers on a contingent basis, with technology continuing to press on the frontier of what can be done.

Being on the edge of innovation, Crowdsourcing platforms exhibit considerable variation, but for now seem to separate into two main models which we have defined as Distributed Microtask Processing Platforms and Challenge/Contest Platforms.

Still experimental and evolving, Crowdsourcing platforms represent extreme forms of innovation in how contingent workers can be engaged and work can be done.  There is definitely a place for these kinds of platforms in the globally networked, 21st Century, information-based/service economy, although it is difficult to predict the extent and form it might take. For the near term, we expect the Crowdsourcing segment to continue on a steady, but not explosive, path of investment, innovation, and growth.

This report is available to SIA members at http://www.staffingindustry.com/site_member/Research-Publications/Research-Topics/Region-Europe/Crowdsourcing-Platforms


Featured post

Independence Day? Uber, ICs, and the Two-Sides of 21st Century “Online Work Arrangement Platforms” (SIA blog post)

carJuly 4, 2014.  It’s Independence Day here in the U.S., so coincidentally a very convenient context for writing this post about work, laws, independence, and the protection of rights of diverging stakeholders in our society and economy.

For those of us who have been studying 21st century “online work arrangement intermediation platforms” (Online Staffing, Crowdsourcing, Online Services platforms, etc.), there has been no doubt that two-sided “car ride” platform businesses like Uber and Lyft are in fact a kind of “work arrangement intermediation platform” like the various online labor platforms we have been calling attention to (for example, 2014 Online Staffing Platform Landscape: Can More Be Better? ). “Online work arrangement intermediation platforms” are simply digital platforms that enable the arrangement of work engagements/episodes between buyers and suppliers of labor services—but there are many dimensions to a “work arrangement,” including (as we know in the staffing industry) if and how existing laws may apply.

Two-sided online/digital platform businesses did not really exist before the internet, so we are still trying (often struggling) to figure out how existing laws apply to these platforms and what new laws may be needed (“data privacy” and “data ownership” are good examples of where legal chasms have opened up in the platform world). In fact, online/digital platform business models tend to introduce new, unprecedented ways of doing things that not only challenge and change traditional industry business practices, but also can directly or subtly challenge legal and regulatory concepts and frameworks potentially leading to the court actions and/or changes in government policy. Such business and legal turbulence is certainly present around changing work arrangements, where there is a thicket of existing state and federal laws and regulations and diverging economic stakeholder interests.

Follow this link to continue reading the blog post at SIA.

Featured post

My Short, But Intense, Experience as an Analyst of the Online Work Platform Space

IntegrationOne reaches certain points in life–especially after an extended period of intense, focused activity (not the least, one of those bordering on obsession)–when it is natural, and often necessary, to take stock of where we have been and to evaluate a meaningful, sustainable path forward.

For me, it was only two years ago that I started earnestly to focus my research and writing bandwidth on “online work arrangement intermediation platforms” (my technical term for the phenomenon that often goes by names like crowdsourcing, online staffing, human cloud, et al).

To be completely accurate, I wrote my first article on the subject in April 2012 (“Why e-platforms are a force to reckon with“), while I was a full-time Research Analyst at Staffing Industry Analysts (Jan 2012 thru June 2013). However, it wasn’t until the summer of 2012 that I actually began formal research and writing on the subject–something which increased to a full-time undertaking in late June of 2013, when I began to work independently (while also continuing as a Affiliate Analyst with SIA).

In the past year, I have devoted all of my professional time to the subject of “online work arrangement intermediation platforms” as an independent analyst/consultant working for different platform businesses, staffing businesses, investors, et al as well as an Affiliate Analyst with SIA.

Some people have asked me how I became so intensely interested in the phenomenon I have been monitoring and analyzing.  It was actually a bit of an accident.  While recovering from a surgery in the summer and fall of 2011, with too much time on my hands, I began digging into the topic of “platform models” (one which had been an interest of mine since the early 1990s, when I read Wheelwright, S. C., and K. B. Clark. Revolutionizing Product Development: Quantum Leaps in Speed, Efficiency and Quality. New York: Free Press, 1992).  By 2011, the research topic and the economic/business reality of “platform models” had matured significantly, so there was a great deal to catch-up on.

When I joined SIA at the start of 2012, I was barely familiar with the role of “platforms models” in the evolving “work arrangement intermediation” space (what I started to call the staffing industry)–I had had some contact with 99Designs, had heard of Elance and oDesk, and had looked at various platforms in the language translation space.  However, within a few months, it became clear to me that “platform models” were beginning to play a significant role in the staffing/work arrangement intermediation space.  Because SIA was also interested in this phenomenon as a part of the whole “staffing industry” and “contingent workforce” picture, I was able to begin ramping up my research.

With that grounding–and applying my analyst capabilities/experience–the past two years have been full of intense, ongoing learning as well as meeting, communicating with, and working with intelligent and passionate people all around the world (entrepreneurs, manages/executives of platform, staffing, and technology businesses, investors and other analysts).  Last week, for example,  I had a fascinating conversation with two analysts in Nairobi working for the World Bank to produce a study on “digital workforce in developing economies.”  And that was only one of perhaps ten other conversations which I had over the course of that week alone–and I learned something new in each of them!

The scope of how “platform models” are changing how work can be arranged and done is vast, and the task of comprehending it and analyzing it is enormous.  To date, there are only a small number of business analysts and a small number of academic analysts focused in an notable way on this subject–this will likely change in coming years.   It would be great if there was a comprehensive bibliography and an online community of researchers related to this domain.

In that spirit, it seemed time to compile of list of work and accomplishments I brought together in this area over the past two years.  It’s a fairly long, dry list–but the experience has been short and intense.

1.  Published 15 research reports for SIA (note: these research reports are accessible only to SIA members)

2012 Online   Staffing Platform Businesses: Competitive Landscape
2012 “Online Staffing” Platforms: Characterizing the Demand Side
2012 “Online   Staffing:” What Is It, What’s Driving It, What Does It Mean For Staffing   Firms?
2012 “Online   Staffing” Platforms: Threats and/or Opportunities for Other Staffing   Businesses
2013 “Online   Staffing” Platforms: 2013 industry segment landscape
2013 The   “Human Cloud” in 2013: What It Is, and Why It Is An Emerging and Real   Opportunity For Staffing Firms
2013 Online   Staffing Platform Businesses ‐ 2013 and 2014 Industry Segment Forecast 
2013 What   Does It Take To Launch a Successful Online Staffing Business?
2013 The   Largest Online Staffing Platforms in 2013
2014 “Online   Staffing” Platform Businesses – Industry Segment Forecast Through 2020
2014 Online   Staffing and Human Cloud Platforms: Staffing Firms’ Response and Engagement
2014 Online   Work Platform Models and Labor-related Compliance: Why It’s Not A   Contradiction in Terms
2014 Online   Services Platforms: Can they work?


2014   Online Staffing Platform Landscape: Can more be better?

2014 Crowdsourcing Platforms

2. Published 52 articles and posts (in addition to o published in this Research Platform blog)

“Online   Staffing” – Seeing the Forest For the Trees
‘Online   Staffing’ for ‘Onsite’ Workers – 10/17/2012 
“Online   Staffing Platform,” Elance, Reports Continuing High Growth in 2012
2014   Online Staffing Platform Landscape: Can more be better? – 6/26/2014 
800,000   New Freelancers Join Elance – 2/13/2013 
Branching   Out – 2/27/2014 
Care.com   –Another Online Work Arrangement Platform IPOs
Counterpoint   – 2/01/2013 
Crowdsourcing:   a Serious Contingent Workforce Strategy? – 3/14/2012 
Does   Elance Provide a Special Lens for Examining the 2013 US e-Work Economy?
Elance   Moves Closer to the Enterprise with Private Talent Cloud (Continues to Define   Itself as a Segment Innovator)
Elance   Reports Strong Q1 ’13 Growth As More Businesses and Freelancers Get Turned-On   To Online Work
Elance-oDesk,   Data, and the Hidden Power (and Value) of Online Staffing Platforms
Eureka!!   The New Potential for Scaling a Business with “Contingent Workforce”
Expert’s   Corner – 4/23/2012 
freelancer.com’s   IPO Prospectus Allows a Look Under the Hood of a Large Global Online Staffing   Platform Business
Industry   (Not) Lost in Translation – 8/08/2012 
Is   Elance Pointing the Way to A New Labor Market Function for the Staffing   Industry?
Kelly,   oDesk and the “Hybridization” of Staffing in 2013
Let the   Games Begin: oDesk Takes Aim at the Medium to Large Enterprise Market
Neither   Fish Nor Fowl: The State of Online Staffing Model Evolution
New   Elance Data Indicate Accelerated Growth
New   Offering Shifts Online Staffing Model – 9/11/2013 
News:   Cloud Hiring Takes Off – 2/15/2012 
oDesk   and Elance Merger: The Next Era of Online Staffing Begins
oDesk   Releases a Treasure Trove of Statistics Documenting the Rise of Online Work
Online   Services Platforms: Can they work? – 5/28/2014 
Online   Staffing Platforms Continue to Evolve – 8/21/2013 
Online   Staffing Sees Robust Growth – 5/15/2013 
Online   Staffing/Human Cloud Trifecta: freelancer.com, Elance and Something Else
Online   Staffing: Still Partly Cloudy–Clearing Trend Ahead
Online   Work Platform Models and Labor-related Compliance: Why It’s Not A   Contradiction in Terms – 3/03/2014 
The   “Online Staffing/Human Cloud” Top 8 (Most Influential) List: Finding New Ways   To Make Work Work
The   Buzz – 11/21/2012 
The   Buzz – 4/01/2013 
The   Buzz – 7/01/2013 
The   Buzz – 9/26/2012 
The   Buzz: Beyond the MSP and VMS – 10/29/2013 
The   Buzz: Get the Data – 5/19/2014 
The   Buzz: On the Spot – 4/25/2014 
The   Buzz: Social freelancing – 8/22/2013 
The   March on the Enterprise Continues: oDesk Advances
The Two   Sides of MBO Partners: Things May Not Always Be What They Seem
The Work   Market-SAP Deal: What Does It Really Mean (for Staffing)?
What is   the Importance of “Sourcing” in Your Staffing Firm?
What   Lurks Beneath? A Tectonic Shift in the Work Arrangement Landscape?
Yee-ha!   The Online Staffing and Human Cloud Platforms “Spring Roundup”

3. Published 5 white papers for clients

4.  Organized/participated in numerous events including SIA and HR.com webinars, conference sessions and discussion panels.

5. Founded and acted as community manager for the Online Staffing/Human Cloud Platform LinkedIn Group at https://www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=6520357&trk=anet_ug_hm

6. Founded and acted as MeetUp organizer for the Online Staffing/Human Cloud Platform MeetUp Group (which will be starting a chapter in Washington DC in July)



Featured post

Hot and Cool: The Next Online Staffing/Human Cloud Meet-Up: Eve, June 25th, San Francisco

PairsThis will be the last MeetUp for the summer months.  We have a great panel, a great host and venue, and really relevant theme.  As usual, reception and networking will be from 5:30-6:30PM, with panel discussion from 6:30-7:30PM.  To join us, follow this link.

The panel discussion/theme planned:  How “digital technology and platforms” are changing the way “knowledge work/expertise-based work” can be organized across businesses and knowledge workers.  Many implications across the expanding knowledge economy–new kinds of knowledge work as well as traditional knowledge work, like medicine and law, etc.

The panel is currently taking shape as follows:

• Debbie Cohen, VP, Chief of People at Mozilla Corporation

• Jennings Staley, M.D., Founder and CEO of Freelance Physician

• Susan Stucky, PhD, Researcher of structure of work;  former IBM Research/Almaden

• Sugath Warnakulasuriya, PhD,  Co-Founder and former CEO of 10EQS; former EDS/HP, McKinsey

BTW, prior MeetUp videos can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaWauBOWWYaAte5RbdFQGcg

Featured post

Will Chinese “witkey” online labor services platforms expand beyond China?

witkeySome time ago, I highlighted some other research on this subject of “witkey” platforms, which parallel the emerging online labor platforms (like Elance-oDesk, freelancer.com, et al) outside of China. The platforms in China appear to be very fast-growing, but transparency can sometimes be a challenge.

I recently captured some data from the China website of the largest witkey platform Zhubajie (Pig Network), which asserted these claims about the platform’s transactional dimensions (presumably over the past year and since getting started):



The “Reward Amount” of 1.6B Yuan (apparently over the past year) would be about 100M dollars.

In the world of online labor services platforms, there is almost a complete split in coverage between China and the rest of the world.  China’s witkey platforms remain almost completely insular within China. Alexa web traffic data (number of site visitors) show that while 94% of the Zhubajie platform’s traffic originates in China (only 6 % outside of China), the China-originating traffic of the Elance and oDesk platforms is less than 1%.  Remember:  that is all traffic, both buyers and sellers of labor service.

An Aalto University student, Weimu You, has recently published a Masters thesis, which is now available online and can be found through this link: “The business model and foreign market entry model choice of crowdsourcing service providers: a case study of a multinational witkey service provider.”  Information Systems Science, Master’s thesis. Weimu You, 2014.  Though anonymized, You’s case study seems to me to be based on Zhubajie, which has been attempting to expand beyond its insular China market.  One of the tactics, according to one of the interviews in the study, is to leverage the very high number of Chinese bi-lingual college students attending universities in the US and Canada as a way to connect the platform into these English speaking markets.

In my own interview of a Zhubajie executive last year, I heard a bit about some novel–and I have to say, innovative, impressive–ideas for how the platform could generate North America-to-China traffic and transactions.

There does appear to be some vision there.  IDG Venture Partners apparently invested at least $10M in Zhubajie in 2011, and there were murmurs of an IPO in 3 years (a forecast deferred in 2013 by the company for another 2-3 years). Since my own 2013 conversations, I haven’t seen any kind of evidence of expansion in North America or heard any news about Zhubajie developments.  But Zhubajie traffic originating in the US now stands at 1.3% of the platform’s total traffic (the largest non-China origination zone).

How long will it take for witkey platforms to expand significantly beyond China, and how will they do it?  That is the question that student Weimu You has been correctly considering.








Featured post

Video of Panel Discussion, “The Free Agent Enterprise” – 4/28, Online Staffing/Human Cloud MeetUp

Zf4oWBBakQJp1thsXzunITl72eJkfbmt4t8yenImKBXEejxNn4ZJNZ2ss5Ku7CxtOn April 28, 2014, we held the fourth Online Staffing/Human Cloud Platforms MeetUp event, generously hosted by Akraya, Inc. in Sunnyvale, CA.

The video of the informative panel discussion can be viewed here.

The Panel:

• Peter Cannone: CEO at OnForce

• Matt Cooper: Vice President, Enterprise Services at Elance-oDesk

• Steve King: Partner at Emergent Research

• Kelley Steven-Waiss:  Senior Vice President, Worldwide Human  Resources at Extreme Networks


Subject: “The Coming Convergence of Technology/Online Work Platforms,  “Soft-boundary” Organizations/Enterprises, and an Expanding Freelance/Independent Workforce”

The realization of the “permanent employee” economy (of the industrial scale firm) seemed to have peaked some time in the late 20th century. Over the past 20 years, information technology–and over the past 10 years or so, online platforms–have increasingly entered into the intermediation of work arrangements, potentially enabling more dynamic, transparent, fluid and flexible labor markets. As technology makes new kinds of work arrangements possible, organizations and workforce (within prevailing legal, tax, and institutional/normative structures) are in the process of testing, adapting, adopting new ways to arrange and get work done.

That is where we are in 2014.  There have always been–especially in certain labor market segments–freelancers, independent workers and contractors performing work for organizations, but they tended to be considered “ancillary” to the “permanent employee” workforce and labor economy.  But now, shorter, more variable, more specialized work arrangements are being seen as being fundamentally important for organizations–and more and more workers are at least beginning to seek to adapt to and  embrace the idea of freelance/independent careers.  Technology is both a key catalyst and driver in this evolution

Our panel will represent different facets of the coming convergence of technology/platforms, evolving organizations/enterprises, and changing workforce.  We will be discussing the current state of developments in how technology/online platforms can support variable, shorter, more specialized work arrangements between  organizations/enterprises and freelancer/independent workers.  We will also discuss how this might evolve in coming years and where it might take us.

Once again, the video of the informative panel discussion can be viewed here.

The Online Staffing/Human Cloud Platform MeetUp site can be accessed here.


Featured post

“T2T (Task-to-Talent): How Technology is Driving a New Contingent Work Arrangement Paradigm” (White Paper)

T2TI recently was commissioned by OnForce to write a white paper on the subject the of “short-assignment/limited task” work engagements and technology/online work platforms. The white paper entitled “T2T (Task-to-Talent):  How Technology is Driving a New Contingent Work Arrangement Paradigm” can be read here Task-to-Talent-WhitePaper.

The trend toward more and more contingent work arrangements seems to be established as a way of doing business.  Along side current modes of arranging and managing contingent work (a work arrangement paradigm I call Personnel Staffing–delivering talented/skilled persons to the work), now cumulative communication and information technology (CIT) is enabling a new way of arranging work in shorter intervals.   It is now possible to execute a single contingent work arrangement (paid) transaction that is performed in matter of seconds (a very thought provoking observation).

This is a complex phenomenon, the surface of which is only scratched in this white paper.  What is clear, however, is that “short/assignment/limited task,” specialized work engagements are increasing as they are transacted across an increasing number and types of “online work arrangement intermediation platforms.”  As these engagements continue to proliferate as standard ways of getting work done, I suggest that we are seeing the emergence of new “contingent work arrangement paradigm” along side the now established Personnel Staffing paradigm.

The introduction of the white paper is repeated here:

Today, in 2014, we seem to be crossing a threshold into a new world of work and work arrangements. This does not, by any means, signify the end of longer term employment of workers by organizations, but it does seem to mean that organizations and workers will be exploring and engaging in new kinds of work arrangements.

There are drivers on both the demand and supply sides of the labor market leading to an increase in “contingent” work arrangements that involve specific work performed over a limited interval. Contingent (non-employment) work arrangements (between organizations and agency temps, consultants, contractors, freelancers, etc.) are not new, but they are becoming more pervasive in more organizations and industries across the economy. They are also evolving and technology is playing an increasingly significant role in all of this.

In the past few decades, technology applications have had major influence on organizations’ acquisition and management of employees and, mostly in the last decade, on contingent workforce supply chain management, which enables controlled procurement and consumption of various kinds of contingent workers. However, almost all contingent work arrangements handled through managed services providers (MSPs) and system tools (VMS) have applied to agency temps who are engaged over intervals ranging from about a week to months at a time.

Certainly, organizations have long been engaging non-employee workers for more specific and much shorter-interval activities. However, this has almost always been occurring in time-consuming, ad hoc ways, without established intermediate systems that enable efficient and cost-effective control over this type of work engagement. But in today’s dynamic, digitally driven economy, some organizations are discovering technology that delivers higher levels of efficiency, agility, and performance, giving them a strategic advantage in executing and managing smaller units of work performed by non-employee workers.

We are seeing the emergence of a new work arrangement paradigm based on digital work arrangement intermediation platforms that enable populations of qualified workers to perform shorter, more specialized activities on a larger scale than can be accomplished today. This “work arrangement paradigm” we are calling “Task-to-Talent” (or “T2T”).

The white paper can be accessed here: Task-to-Talent-WhitePaper.



Featured post

“The Free-Agent Enterprise?” Next MeetUp Eve of April 28th Sunnyvale, CA

faeOn the evening of April 18th, we’ll be holding the next MeetUp of the SF Bay Area Online Staffing/Human Cloud Platform Group.  We have a fantastic program and panel lined up (more details below). To register and join us, follow this link.

If you want to have an idea of what these Meet-Ups are like, watch this video.

Details of the 4/28 are as follows:


This MeetUp panel will discuss the current state and future of freelance/independent workforce,  online work platforms, and how enterprises will get work done.  See more details below.


• Peter Cannone: CEO at OnForce

• Matt Cooper: VP, Enterprise & International at Elance/oDesk

• Steve King: Partner at Emergent Research

• Kelley Steven-Waiss:  Senior Vice President, Worldwide Human  Resources at Extreme Networks


Subject: “The Coming Convergence of Technology/Online Work Platforms,  “Soft-boundary” Organizations/Enterprises, and an Expanding Freelance/Independent Workforce”

The realization of the “permanent employee” economy (of the industrial scale firm) seemed to have peaked some time in the late 20th century. Over the past 20 years, information technology–and over the past 10 years or so, online platforms–have increasingly entered into the intermediation of work arrangements, potentially enabling more dynamic, transparent, fluid and flexible labor markets. As technology makes new kinds of work arrangements possible, organizations and workforce (within prevailing legal, tax, and institutional/normative structures) are in the process of testing, adapting, adopting new ways to arrange and get work done.

That is where we are in 2014.  There have always been–especially in certain labor market segments–freelancers, independent workers and contractors performing work for organizations, but they tended to be considered “ancillary” to the “permanent employee” workforce and labor economy.  But now, shorter, more variable, more specialized work arrangements are being seen as being fundamentally important for organizations–and more and more workers are at least beginning to seek to adapt to and  embrace the idea of freelance/independent careers.  Technology is both a key catalyst and driver in this evolution

Our panel will represent different facets of the coming convergence of technology/platforms, evolving organizations/enterprises, and changing workforce.  We will be discussing the current state of developments in how technology/online platforms can support variable, shorter, more specialized work arrangements between  organizations/enterprises and freelancer/independent workers.  We will also discuss how this might evolve in coming years and where it might take us.


Featured post

Overview Video- Now Avaliable (1/14 Bay Area Online Staffing/Human Cloud MeetUp)

MeetuppicThe overview video of the January 2014 MeetUp is now available. The video documents highlights of the January MeetUp and gives viewers a good idea of what this group’s MeetUps are like.

The MeetUp panel featured Matt Cooper of oDesk, Gene Zaino of MBO Partners, and Jeff Wald of Work Market.  We discussed what is happening in the platform category Online Staffing, what’s developing/changing. and where things are headed.

Another MeetUp on “start-ups” in human cloud platform space was held in March.  It featured a panel of 5 start-up founders/CEOs.  Video footage from this MeetUp will soon be available.

The next MeetUp will be held in Sunnyvale on Monday evening April 28th.  The MeetUp focus will be “The Coming Convergence of Technology/Online Work Platforms,  “Soft-boundary” Organizations/Enterprises, and an Expanding Freelance/Independent Workforce”.  See the MeetUp site and join! http://www.meetup.com/Bay-Area-Online-Staffing-Human-Cloud-Cloud-Labor-Platforms/

Featured post

Branching Out – How Four Staffing Firms Are Responding to Online Staffing Platforms (my recent SIA article)

hybridOver the past two years, Staffing Industry Analysts has been studying the emerging phenomenon we have called online staffing — the intermediation of a work arrangement that is performed across an online platform, whether that work arrangement is between a small business and online freelancer (e.g., Elance) or between a larger business and an onsite contractor (e.g., Work Market).

A number of staffing firms are now responding to these platforms, a few of which are highlighted here. In each case, the firms are proving to be early “responders” rather than “adopters,” pursuing various thoughtful strategies and approaches to create unique talent management solutions that coexist within or transform their existing business models and serve clients better.    

Continue Reading Complete Article in Staffing Industry Review


Featured post

“Making Waves — The StartUps” >> Next Online Staffing/Human Cloud Platform Group Meet-Up: Tues Eve 3/25 in San Francisco Financial District

Screenshot_13When it comes to online work platforms, we have been seeing waves of development and investment.  One of the first major waves may have crested recently with the IPO of freelancer.com and the merger of the two global online freelance platform giants, Elance and oDesk.  But in the past few years, we have seen new waves taking shape as a range of different kinds of start-ups–with different perspectives on and models for addressing the market(s)–have appeared in the space.  And we all know that the biggest wins in new industries often does not come from the “first-movers” but often from the fast (and not-so-fast) followers.

So this MeetUp will focus on some of those companies so that we can hear what they are about, how they are different, what it’s like to be “catching a wave” at this stage of evolution in the space, and what the future of the space looks like to an early-stage entrepreneur.

We have a great panel lined-up, founders of  four young online work platform companies (each with a unique perspective and model):

  • Mattias Guilotte of Coworks
  • Pramod Raheja of MyStaffNow
  • Brendon/Branson Bollinger of PRSONA
  • Jason Chicola of REV
  • Yong Kim of Wonolo

I am looking forward to a very interesting talk with these representatives of new companies pushing further online work platform innovation.

To join the MeetUp Group and/or register for this MeetUp, follow this link.

Featured post

Is business intelligence and decision-making still in the dark ages? Where is your business at?

imagesCAJWIFIRA great blog post at MIT Sloan Review (“The Science of Managing Black Swans“) makes one wonder if business intelligence and decision-making are still in the dark ages.   Excellent post suggests what lies ahead in how businesses will be able to analyze their environments (internal and external) to assess long-tail risks (and, I guess, opportunities too!):


“In his research, Kenett lays out a maturity ladder of risk-management practices:

  1. Intuitive – no formal methods used.
  2. Qualitative – risk assessments are based on expert opinions
  3. Quantitative – some data is collected and used to derive Key Risk Indicators.
  4. Semantic – unstructured data, like logbooks or blogs reflecting user experience, is analyzed.
  5. Integrated – data from various sources is integrated into a coherent risk management system.

“Many organizations are at level 1 or 2,” writes Kenett. “Going up the ladder is both a management and technological challenge.” It’s when organizations are able to combine the third and fourth rungs — a combo of quantitative and semantic data — to get the final rung of data integration that unexpected risk is best managed.

Kenett, who is also chairman and chief executive officer of the data analytics firm KPA Group, suggests that operational risk management is a function of the complexity of the business and the environment in which the business operates. “As a consequence, the more complexity increases, the higher is the need for integrating internal and external data sources, and filtering external data according to internal rules and definitions.”


Featured post

“Engaging the 21st Century Independent Professional Workforce – MBO Partners — Developing a New Work-Arrangement Intermediation Ecosystem”

Screenshot_8I recently did a paper on how MBO Partners is positioning itself to address the 21st century requirements for intermediating “work arrangements” between high skilled, highly paid “independent professionals” and the enterprise organizations that will increasingly require their services.

The paper is well summarized in the MBO blog post, which I have republished part of below.  Follow this link to read the full post, where a download link for the white paper can be found.

Excerpt from post:

This paper covers three main trends:

(1) organizations changing use of labor/talent and evolving work arrangements,

(2) workers’ changing perspectives, needs and preferences, and evolving work arrangements, and

(3) new digital platforms/ecosystems enabling the prior.

In addition, it establishes how MBO Partners is leading the establishment of an innovative engagement enablement platform and a digital-service ecosystem that will meet the growing support needs of independent professionals and the enterprises/other organizations that wish to do business with them.

A work market once largely driven by traditional employer-employee relationships has evolved to include alternative work arrangements. In the mid 20th century, an entire industry sector has emerged to meet the needs of organizations (largely by borrowing the linear industrial age procurement processes) that need to source and procure non-traditional labor, such as temporary and independent workers as well as workers who choose a non-employee work arrangement. This industry sector includes vendor management systems, managed service providers,  Independent Contractor Engagement service providers, temporary staffing suppliers and professional services firms.

Until recently, the contingent workforce has traditionally been viewed with a singular lens with functional systems and solutions largely focused on efficient procurement and management. However, in the 21st Century there is a growing population of highly skilled knowledge workers that deliver their expertise and services to organizations by contract work arrangements. This growing class of independent professionals has illuminated the limitations of traditional engagement methods and has stimulated the development of an emerging digital ecosystem of work arrangement intermediaries to support these limitations.

MBO Partners has been identified as uniquely positioned to be a keystone in this ecosystem, to serve the 21st century population of independent professionals as well as the managers and organizations who need the services of these professionals.

To read the full paper, click here.

Featured post

Great event! Online Staffing Platforms–How’s It All Changing?

BfHnz7gCcAA4iNCYesterday evening, the Bay Area Online Staffing and Human Cloud/Cloud Labor Platform MeetUp Group held it’s second MeetUp, hosted generously by oDesk in Redwood City. This event’s panel discussion focused on “online staffing platforms,”  how they are changing, and where they are heading.

I was thrilled to moderate a first-rate panel:  from left to right:  Gene Zaino (MBO Partners), Jeff Wald (Work Market),  Matt Cooper (oDesk), Andrew Karpie (The Research Platform).  With a panel like this, amazing things just happen, new insights get formulated and brought to light.  Fortunately, some video highlights from the session will be available in the coming weeks.  I want to thank the panelists, once again.

We also had another amazingly engaged and very diverse crowd of attendees, professionals from many different related domains and places.

The  Bay Area Online Staffing and Human Cloud/Cloud Labor Platform MeetUp Group was formed late last year as way for professionals with a serious direct interest in online work platforms to meetup, exchange information and ideas, and network.  It is a non-profit, vendor-independent professional affiliation group that now is meeting every 1-2 months in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Membership in this group is restricted those with serious, direct professional interest in the subject.

This MeetUp group also has an online community/LinkedIn group Online Staffing & Human Cloud / Cloud Labor Platforms.  Membership in this group is open.


Featured post

1/28/2014 Eve, Redwood City, CA– MeetUp: “Online Staffing” In 2014–What’s Changing?

OnlineLaborThis month’s MeetUp will be hosted at the oDesk HQ facility.  Our panel will consist of Gene Zaino of MBO Partners, Jeff Wald of Work Market, and Matt Cooper of oDesk. The networking reception will begin around 5:30PM, followed by the panel discussion.

To register for the MeetUp Group and then RSVP for the event, follow this link.

This MeetUp panel discussion will focus specifically on “online staffing platforms” (platforms that–in contrast to crowdsourcing and other human cloud platforms–clearly establish a 1-1 “work arrangement” relationship between a specific work user/payer and a specific work provider/payee). Platform companies like oDesk and Elance made “online staffing platforms” almost household words by bringing millions of small businesses and millions of global online freelancers.  But “online staffing” has been evolving rapidly in the past couple of years.  Not only can “work performed online” be enabled by these platforms, work that is performed “onsite” can also be. In addition, we are starting to see that larger enterprises can also be served (not just small businesses).  As this happens, “online staffing models” begin to cross over into the traditional staffing markets of companies like Kelly, Manpower and many others.  Our panel discussion is going to focus on what has been happening in this very interesting zone of intersection, what the panelists’ businesses are doing there, and what kind of expectations can be formed for the future.

MBO and Work Market announced an important partnership:  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/9/prweb11105021.htm

Work Market also recently announced this deal with SAP:  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/01/prweb11469237.htm#!

oDesk announced a partnership with the eponymous “staffing firm” Kelly (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/kelly-servicesr-and-odeskr-announce-alliance-a-first-between-a-workforce-solutions-company-and-an-online-work-platform-2013-12-12) and more recently, a planned merger with Elance (http://finance.yahoo.com/news/elance-odesk-announce-merger-181500402.html;_ylt=A0SO80jhJ7VSKnYAHvFXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTBxa3YwODBiBHNlYwNzYwRjb2xvA2dxMQR2dGlkAzIwMl8x

Featured post

“The Work Market-SAP Deal: What Does It Really Mean (for Staffing)?” [my recent SIA blog post]

WMSAPWork Market recently announced a deal with global enterprise software giant SAP. This deal not only indicates that large enterprises are reaching out and engaging with online staffing platforms to access needed talent, it also demonstrates that there are many new ways in which this can be happening (especially as enterprises more and more adopt flexible, extended workforce models). It also shows that online staffing platform businesses can maneuver and position themselves in agile ways to provide innovative, advanced contingent workforce staffing solutions for 21st century businesses.  …… 

… The Work Market-SAP deal is a “big deal” for a number of reasons, some which may seem obvious and others not. But perhaps its major significance for me is that it is a further demonstration of how online staffing platforms can engender completely new kinds of enterprise workforce management solutions (especially in the new world of extended enterprises and different kinds of extended workforces). It is an indicator of how different kinds of differently configured workforce management solutions will be created using online platforms and digital service ecosystems–created in different combinations by the successful enterprises of the future, the emerging platform providers, and the innovative players in what refer as the “staffing industry” today. The extent to which “staffing industry” players will be critical components in these combinations will depend upon the strategies they are executing now and in the next several years. 2020 is not that far way!  

To read the full post, click here.

Featured post

Online staffing revenue could reach $46 billion in 2020 (Staffing Industry Analysts)

imagesCAZ2IYSSA Staffing Industry Analysts news item summarized my recent 2020 forecast as follows:

Online staffing spend could reach as high as $46 billion by 2020, according to a new report by Staffing Industry Analysts. The number represents an “aggressive, but possible” forecast.

The most conservative forecast in the report has online staffing spend growing to $16 billion by 2020. However, the report also makes a “quite plausible” forecast of $23 billion that is well within reach of the online staffing segment.

The full article, which provides some further summarization from the forecast report, can be read here:  http://www.staffingindustry.com/Research-Publications/Daily-News/Online-staffing-revenue-could-reach-46-billion-28527



Featured post

Online Staffing & Human Cloud / Cloud Labor Platforms | LinkedIn

OnlineLaborThis group is focused on bringing together HR, Contingent Workforce Procurement, Staffing Industry and any other Professionals, Academics and Students, and anyone else who may be interested developing insight into and understanding of this emerging area.

See more and/or join http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Online-Staffing-Human-Cloud-Cloud-6520357/about


Featured post

oDesk and Elance Merger: The Next Era of Online Staffing Begins (my recent post at SIA)

PairsThe news is out:  Elance and oDesk have taken the plunge.  The planned merger, along with prior events in 2013, strongly indicate that the long-emergent online staffing industry is shifting up a gear (or two?).

“In [a] broader, longer-range, strategic context, it becomes clear that it makes sense that the groups of investors in oDesk and Elance rethink continuing to pour resources into two — only seemingly competing — prototypical freelancer marketplace platforms. oDesk and Elance have already both won that competition, and now another bigger, more important game is starting with a whole set of different opportunities, competitors, and partners, etc..”

In my blog post, I provide my perspective that leads me to the above conclusion.   Read the full post.

Featured post

Kelly, oDesk and the “Hybridization” of Staffing in 2013 (my recent post at SIA)


“The recently announced partnership between Kelly and oDesk is not just an isolated landmark event in the staffing industry, it is a part of a whole process of evolution and transformation — one that may alter the face and landscape of the staffing industry over the next 10 years (strengthening and bringing new growth to the industry as a whole).

While the general, incremental adoption of information technology applications into staffing firms has been a major driver of improved staffing performance and efficiency, another set of developments has been emerging: that is what I call the “hybridization” of traditional staffing agency and online staffing platform models. This hybridization entails a variety of potential combinations of these two models.”

For some time, many thought that the two models were quite different and performed in different business segments. But we are now starting to see very different kinds of “mash-ups” of these models resulting in ways of intermediating work arrangements, and even new forms of work arrangements (such as on-demand, global freelancer-based Talent-as-a-Service or TaaS).*

As I see it, 2013 will be the year that we look back on and say: “Yes, that was when signs of hybridization in the staffing industry started to appear.”

Read more at SIA, click here.


* In fact, “mash-ups” related to technology, platforms, and hybrid models are now causing us to have to think and speak differently about new and evolving“work-arrangements.”  See:  “Online Work” vs.
“Online-Intermediated Work Arrangements” – That is the Question

Featured post

Cloud Staffing Firm, PRSONA, Announces Focus on “Office White-Collar” Staffing

prsonaPRESS RELEASE:  Excerpt

PRSONA, the Cloud Staffing© company, announced today that it will be concentrating its business focus and applying its innovative online staffing platform model to meet the critical needs of small and medium sized companies to fill locally-sourced, onsite “office white collar” positions (whether temporary contractors or W2 employees).   ….   “Office White Collar” positions, which can include office administrative, customer service, tech support, and many other “essential” day-to-day business execution roles, can be subject to fluctuations and high turnover and entail the need to source and engage reliably skilled workers quickly.  Businesses have often traditionally relied on “staffing agencies” to supply these kinds of workers, who are often engaged as temporary or contract workers. PRSONA can fulfill such—high-demand and hard-to-fill–positions faster and much more economically than traditional recruiting and staffing agencies, based on its innovative Cloud Staffing© model.

Click here to read entire press release.

Featured post

freelancer.com Share Price Continues to Plummet (Dec 6th 2013)

FLN1In past week or so, the freelance.com share price has continued to decline in light trading as the company announces an initiative in Malaysia that seems to continue an apparent strategy of expanding its freelancer base in emerging markets.

In my earlier post, “Whither the freelancer.com share price?  (the week ending November 21, 2013),” I noted the initial decline:  “After a rise in share price to  $1.84 AUS this week, from a close price on opening day last Friday of $1.60 AUS, freelancer.com shares have come down to $1.62 at Thursday close in Sydney.”

In recent days, the share price has dropped as low as $1.00, with a Friday close of $1.120 AUS, representing a drop in market cap to about $480M AUS..


The only development reported by freelancer.com in the past week or so was about this initiative in Malaysia (12/5/13), as reported by Staffing Industry Analysts:

Freelancer Limited (FLN: ASX) today announced that Freelancer International Pty  Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Freelancer, has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) in Malaysia in order to generate additional income for low income households under the Government’s Digital Malaysia initiative.

freelancer.com seems to continue to pursue a strategy of tapping labor forces in emerging economies.  It will be interesting to see next week how investors respond after digesting this news.


Featured post

“Online Work” vs. “Online-Intermediated Work Arrangements” – That is the Question

OnlineLaborThe world of work, staffing, etc. has become more and more complex in past years and more and more complicated to talk about.  This post tries to bring a little bit of clarification to at least two terms. Discussing the different meanings of just two terms, I think, may bring some additional clarity to others (or at least provoke some further thought).

So where is the complication coming from?

In a recent post, What Is “Work Arrangement Intermediation (WAI)?” And How Is It Changing?, I discussed a trend that has been observable for a few decades now:  more and more “work arrangements” (both “permanent” and “contingent” ones) are being intermediated – in some manner or to some degree–by 3rd party entities (including PEOs, staffing firms, etc.)*.

Furthermore, over the past 15 years, information technology (in the form of enterprise systems, IT-enabled processes, online marketplace exchanges and other platforms) has been steadily becoming a critical part of—as well as extending and expanding–that “work arrangement intermediation” (WAI) function.  Vast numbers of “work arrangements” today are at least partially intermediated through some kind of digital-online capability, ranging from job boards (like Monster, CareerBuilder, etc.) to end-to-end “online work arrangement intermediation platforms”  (like oDesk, Elance, Work Market, to name a few).

In a recent HR.com webinar, entitled “How Technology and New Online Platforms Are Driving New Forms of Contingent Work Arrangements,” I offered the following definitions:

Work Arrangement

A complete “transaction of work” between a worker who provides the work and an individual or organizations that uses and typically pays for the work. Work arrangements have many dimensions: economic, legal, structural (how long, how frequently, when and where, etc.)


An ongoing function wherein transactions between two or more parties are critically facilitated or enabled (as a service) by one or more other parties (aka intermediaries).  There can be entire industries or ecosystems that serve an intermediation function (e.g., retail, banking, staffing, et al)


A unified “structure” that allows different parties–often in large numbers—to interact and produce value-added outcomes for the interacting parties (and usually the “platform owner”).  Example: shopping mall. Over the past 15 years, “digital, online platforms” have begun to transform whole parts of the economy (Amazon, Priceline, Travelocity, iTunes, Ebay, AirBnB, Uber, Facebook, etc.)

Mash-up all of those things and you get “end-to-end “online work arrangement intermediation platforms.”


So over the past 10 years or so we have been seeing more and more end-to-end “online work arrangement intermediation platforms” that digitally intermediate the whole work arrangement, end-to-end (from an organization “finding/engaging the worker” all the way to “paying the worker” when the work is done).  Pure digital (often single platform) intermediation.  Wow!

Until fairly recently, most of these “online work arrangement intermediation platforms” have enabled what are effectively “contingent” work arrangements between organizations and workers for types of “knowledge work” (software development, graphic design) that can be performed remotely by workers (often with the management of the work conducted using platform mechanism like “online work rooms,” “project milestones,” “chat and messaging,” etc.).  Over 40 firms, including oDesk, Elance, and freelancer.com, do this.

More recently, firms like Work Market, OnForce, Next Crew, and PRSONA have begun providing digital platforms that intermediate work arrangements, between organizations and workers, for work that is not performed remotely or “online,” but rather is performed “on location” wherever an organization specifies (“the office,” another location such as a where something—such as a service call– needs to be done, etc.).  Also, these work arrangements do not need to involve “knowledge work;” on the contrary, work arrangements for retail support, restaurant or event staff, etc. are can be fully enabled by these “online work arrangement intermediation platforms.”

So now we come back to the original question:  What’s the difference between “Online Work” and “Online-Intermediated Work Arrangements?”

Online Work” simply means work that can be performed “online” (so all the work can be done/completed in a remote location without the worker any time ever going anywhere).  All “online work” is therefore “remote work,” but not vice versa.  Someone could be painting glass pieces or transcribing documents and sending them by UPS to the organization they are working for—nothing “online.”  But some “remote work” (typically knowledge work) is being performed “online.”  That is, to some degree the “work process” is being intermediated (supported or enabled) by digital online tools or platforms (including email, collaboration systems like Google docs, or even more extensive platforms like Atlassian Jira or GitHub (software) or 99Design (graphics), etc.).  When “remote work” is happening this way (with the performance enabled to a significant extent by online tools and platforms), then we can call this “online work.”  To be sure, in this case there is some limited “online intermediation of the work arrangement” going on, but it is limited to supporting the “performance of the work” and is not enabling/supporting the full scope of the work arrangement (from an organization “finding/engaging the worker” all the way to “paying the worker” when the work is done).

Online-Intermediated Work Arrangements” are however specifically defined in these terms.  In this case, we are not only talking about the extent to which “the work is performed” with online enablement (per above), we are talking about the extent to which the entire “work arrangement” is enabled or intermediated by online/digital means (as opposed to traditional means).  In the most extreme form of “Online-Intermediated Work Arrangements,” the “work arrangement” is “intermediated” across an “online/digital platform” (end-to-end, from an organization “finding/engaging the worker” all the way to “paying the worker” when the work is done).

In these cases of “Online (Platform)-Intermediated Work Arrangements,” the “work arrangement” need not involve “online work” (as defined above).  Indeed, the work involved can be performed “on location,” on an organization’s site or wherever the need is—but the “work arrangement” has been “intermediated online” (i.e. across an “online platform”).  Moreover, “Online-Intermediated Work Arrangements” do not have to be “contingent” arrangements:  legal employees can be engaged via “Online Work-Arrangement Intermediation Platforms” (and we are seeing this starting to happen, though so far it is has been more common to see “contingent” (contract) workers being engaged).

One of the most interesting outcomes of the advent of “Online Work-Arrangement Intermediation Platforms” is the “innovation” of “work arrangements” that is occurring! Information technology is allowing us to re-think and reshape “work arrangements” into new forms that—it turns out—do not fit neatly into those traditional institutional and legal concepts of “employee” and “contractor” (on which so much depends, including our tax code in the US).  “Online-Intermediated Work Arrangements” are pressing the limits—technology-enabled intermediation allows for forms of work like crowdsourcing, et al.. And the line between (a) a worker’s work and (b) the technology-intermediated outcome (i.e., a platform’s service output) is becoming increasingly blurred.   In this context, we are now seeing forms of work/service-output that are being defined as Talent-as-a-Service or Workforce-as-a-Service.

Ironically, by achieving (I hope) clarification of the above terms, we are also increasing the blurriness of the future “work arrangement” picture, as suggested here:


It’s becoming clearer that the future of “work arrangements” and “what they will be” remains unsettled and will like evolve in new ways over many years, along with generational effects, economic demands, eventual shifts in regulation, and an increasing and changing role for that part of the economy that will perform the business of “work arrangement intermediation” in the future, highly digitized world.   Clearly, we will definitely be seeing more “Online Work” and also more “Online-Intermediated Work Arrangements” (whether the work is performed “online” or not, whether it is “delivered” as the outputs of specific, identifiable workers or as the “on-demand,” perhaps bursty service outputs of crowds of networked worked across the world).  In any case, change lies ahead—how fast and how much remains to be seen.


*  Some researchers (David Autor and others) have examined the growing “labor market intermediation” sector of the economy.  I prefer to refer to the sector as “work arrangement intermediation” (WAI) sector, as I think the focus should be on “work arrangement” intermediation, not on (some perhaps mythical) “labor market” intermediation.  If there is a “labor market,” it is certainly an “inefficient” one (except perhaps for “commodity” jobs/workers). In any case, this recent paper reasonably describes the current “intermediation” sector for “work arrangements:” “Labor Market Intermediaries and the New Paradigm for Human Resources,” Rocio Bonet , Peter Cappelli & Monika Hamori (2013) The Academy of Management Annals,7:1, 341-392, DOI: 10.1080/19416520.2013.774213


Featured post

(my recent SIA research report) “Who (and What) Are “The Largest” Online Staffing Platforms in 2013? Elance, freelancer.com, oDesk?”

Over just the past several years, there have been three online staffing platforms that have deliberately pursued AND achieved a global scope and a scale of serving many millions of users. They are (alphabetically ordered), Elance, freelancer.com, and oDesk.

  • These three platforms continue to pursue strategies to capture more of the potential world market for bringing together remote, online freelancers (and microfirms) and the organizations which can use their services.
  • freelancer.com took the quickest route (2009‐2013) to an IPO/liquidity event for investors, including rolling up six different freelancer platforms, while Elance and oDesk have grown organically to 2‐4 times the size of freelancer.com (gross spend on platform).

The purpose of this Staffing Industry Analysts research report is to provide insight into the largest online staffing businesses in 2013:  who they are, what they are, and how they are different.  This report presents key facts about these businesses, and it clarifies their different paths of development and current business models.

Report can be found at this link.  Requires SIA Membership.

Featured post

Online Staffing/Human Cloud Trifecta: freelancer.com, Elance and Something Else – (my recent Staffing Industry Analysts Blog Post)

Online Staffing/Human Cloud Trifecta: freelancer.com, Elance and Something Else Staffing Industry Analysts (registration) (blog) It seems that in the small emerging space of online staffing and human cloud platforms there is some new development or…

Andrew Karpie‘s insight:

Online Staffing/Human Cloud Trifecta: freelancer.com, Elance and Something Else – Staffing Industry Analysts (registration) (blog)

See on www.staffingindustry.com

Featured post

“From Contingent Labor to Workforce-As-A-Service” (My recent whitepaper developed for OnForce)

My recent whitepaper, “From Contingent Labor to Workforce-As-A-Service:  Technology and Platforms at Work –  What You need to know in 2013” examines trends and developments leading up to the emergence of “Work Arrangements 4.0.”

w40With Work Arrangements 4.0, as with Work Arrangements 3.0, there is a “technology-based platform” that intermediates the work arrangements between businesses and workers.  In 3.0, however, businesses and workers use the platform to establish and complete one-to-one work arrangements on a project basis with workers being specifically assigned work by the businesses.  In this model each project represents an individual contracted work arrangement between a business and a worker.

In the Work Arrangement 4.0 model, there is also a “technology-based platform” that intermediates the work arrangements between businesses and workers—but the platform does not simply enable a work engagement between an individual business (typically, a small business), on the one hand, and individual worker, on the other. Instead the platform delivers a “managed service” consisting of a managed workforce (i.e., Workforce-as-a-service).   We can consider this to be a distinct layer of “value-added service” provided by the platform. 


Complete white paper can be downloaded immediately, without cost or login, at:  https://www.onforce.com/resources#onforce_insights

Featured post

What Is “Work Arrangement Intermediation (WAI)?” And How Is It Changing?

OnlineLaborWhat is “work arrangement intermediation” or “WAI”?  In abstract economics terms, it is the intermediating mechanisms that match supply and demand in labor markets.  In more concrete terms, it’s how work arrangements get established between workers with talents, capabilities, and skills and the business/organizational entities that must have work performed (the outcome of these work arrangements can be full or part time jobs, contract gigs, crowdsourcing processes, etc. etc.).

In the not so distant past, “WAI” mechanisms consisted of word-of-mouth, personal/professional ties, newspaper classified, resumes and fax machines, staffing agencies, etc.  Needless to say, labor markets (relative to say financial trading markets) have been relatively informationally inefficient, high friction, etc.

Over the past, 13 years, digital technologies have come to play more and more of a role in “WAI.”  From late-1990s to the most recent severe recession, digitization has crept along, mostly automating traditional  labor supply change practices/processes with electronic (parsable) resumes, job boards like Monster, company career sites and applicant tracking systems (what amounted to not much more than “paving the cow path”).

But with the recession of the late 2000s, it became very clear that “WAI” mechanisms were “not doing their job.” It was also becoming clear that industry increasingly needed more flexible and variable “work arrangements” and different and rapidly changing skills, and existing “WAI” mechanisms were being pressed to enable more flexible and variable “work arrangements” and faster and more efficient matching/closing of work requirements/needs and skill/talent suppliers (workers). It also became clear that labor supply/demand challenges were not just problems of a locally dysfunctional “spot market,” but there were deficiencies of a much more global scope (especially on the supply side–in other words the adequate development of right-skilled workers through training and education processes and institutions).

In the years since the last recession, there has not only been an obviation of the above problems and shortcomings in “WAI” mechanisms, there has also been increasing (largely entrepreneurial) innovative exploitation of digital technologies (social, mobile, cloud, informatics (AI, semantic, etc), big data, et al) and new social and platform service models to attempt to address these issues/problems. One can definitely say that we are now seeing (increasingly over the past 5 years) the emergence of a broad range/growing populations of “smart service systems” in the domain of “WAI.”  These include social networks like LinkedIn, flexible work platforms like oDesk or Elance, crowdsourcing platforms like Innocentive or Lionbridge, big data aggregators like Entelo and TalentBin, testing/assessment (by doing) platforms like Gild or Smarter.  We are even seeing the focus of “WAI” expanding to smart service systems that integrate labor demand with supply up-stream (in terms of training and education).

The take-away here is that “WAI” is becoming a crucial area of emergence of digitally driven and integrated “smart service systems”–and this wave of development is still at a very early stage–not yet close to cresting on a maturity curve.  Change has already been underway for several years, but what happens in the next several years (by 2020) will be a more pervasive transformation of how work is intermediated and the forms of work that can be intermediated.  Perhaps the most serious question is the extent to which static or slowly changing labor and tax regulations will dampen this transformation (or the extent to which the economic benefits associated with digitized, smart “WAI” will hasten regulatory adaptation/change).