The Future of Work

Why On-Demand Talent Is the Future

  • Lucy Milligan
  • December 28, 2021

There is no way around it: on-demand talent is the future of work. An increasingly digital business landscape has meant a growing demand from companies for highly specialized talent to help navigate this changing business environment. 

This is where online talent platforms come in, offering skilled freelancers with niche expertise that help businesses thrive in today’s new, rapidly changing economy. 

And yet, a report from the Harvard Business Review on rethinking the on-demand workforce states that “despite the extent to which companies are now turning to [digital talent] platforms, very few firms have developed a cohesive organization-wide approach to their use.” 

Nonetheless, to remain competitive in the digital era, companies need to understand that incorporating on-demand talent into their business strategy has become vital. 

Below we will examine the advantages of hiring highly skilled on-demand talent, as well as the steps companies need to take to ensure they harness this resource in the most productive way possible. 

Hiring On-Demand Talent: The Advantages

Advantage #1: A Solution to the Talent Problem

A fast-changing and evolving economy that centers around rapid automation and digital transformation also mean changing requirements in terms of the kind of talent that businesses need to continue thriving. 

Before, companies needed to focus on strategies to attract the best employees and, more importantly, keep them within the organization. Today, firms need to attract the best talent. There’s a huge difference there. Companies should be open to considering a wide range of talent types, both freelancers and permanent employees. 

But this is an era where the talent problem is real: there are chronic skill shortages and professions that are born and die in a matter of years. Not to mention, the majority of highly skilled workers no longer want to be tied to one employer. They want freedom, a better work/life balance, and the ability to choose which projects to take on. They want to be their own boss. 

Advantage #2: Keeping Track of the Digital Economy 

Despite all the aforementioned advantages, too many firms are still on the outskirts of the so-called gig economy. This is an approach that is no longer sustainable if a company wants to ensure that they work with the best ondemand talent

Statistics show that millions of workers today are turning to contract work. In the US alone, freelancers make up about a third of the workforce, with a considerable slice of it being highly skilled specialists. According to the previously mentioned Harvard Business Review report, “for the first time since 2014, the number of freelancers who say they consider gig work to be a long-term career choice is the same as the number who consider it a temporary way to make money.” 

This means that highly skilled specialists are no longer on the fringe of the gig economy: they are smack in the middle of it, and firms who want to remain competitive need to be as well. 

Considering freelance talent not only allows companies to outsource important tasks that can’t be handled in-house; it also gives them precious insights and ensures that they stay up to date with what is happening in the ever-evolving digital economy. What are the best sources for hard-to-find expertise? Which positions or roles have changed or are changing, and what skills are required to make them thrive? 

The digital economy is a fickle, uncertain environment, and turning to on-demand talent and stepping into the gig economy can help businesses stay up to date with the times.

Advantage #3: The Multi-faceted Edge of Talent Platforms 

On-demand talent platforms provide multiple advantages that go beyond ready-access to specialized skills. 

  • Access to figures of all levels: People who turn to the gig economy also includes c-level and senior management figures. COMATCH, for example, gives companies access to high-end experts, from big-data scientists to strategic project managers and even CEOs and CFOs. 
  • Flexible project management: On-demand talent hired through digital platforms can be hired for any kind of project, with any kind of structure, and for any length of time. Freelancers can work solo or be embedded in existing teams, and the projects they’re assigned to can go from a few hours to more than a year, in many cases developing into a steady collaboration that strengthens the firm’s workforce.
  • Flexible project management: On-demand talent hired through digital platforms can be hired for any kind of project, with any kind of structure, and for any length of time. Freelancers can work solo or be embedded in existing teams, and the projects they’re assigned to can go from a few hours to more than a year, in many cases developing into a steady collaboration that strengthens the firm’s workforce.
  • Labor force flexibility: One of the bigger challenges of the digital economy and its constantly evolving nature is the need to forever improve and upgrade a company’s digital capabilities and offerings. Not all firms are equipped for this, as not all firms have highly skilled, specialized in-house digital talent at their disposal. On-demand talent platforms provide specialists such as software engineers that can generate and develop ideas to keep a firm relevant and healthy in the digital age. 
  • Time to market: In a world that spins faster and faster, TTM (Time To Market) is becoming more and more crucial. New technologies, dynamic information, and competitive pressures all drive market changes that are happening more and more quickly. Being the first has never been more important than it is in our day and age, with first-to-field products often being the ones to capture consumers’ attention (and, consequently, profits and market share). Demand talent platforms accelerate time to market in a very significant manner, enabling managers to fast-track processes, meet deliverables, and ensure results.
  • Business model innovation: This is where crowdsourcing shines again. On-demand talent platforms can provide businesses with a global community of highly skilled problem-solvers that can help firms reinvent their models and reshape the way they deliver value. 

The advantages offered by digital demand talent platforms are many and multi-faceted, and it’s important for businesses to know and harness them all.

Hiring On-Demand Talent: The Strategies

As mentioned earlier, too few firms have developed actual strategic approaches to working with on-demand talent platforms. This is a byproduct of bygone economies, where the structures and processes within a company were designed specifically to protect them from external vendors. 

But to ensure their businesses remain relevant, the C-suite needs to overcome their resistance and develop approaches to integrate an on-demand workforce into their strategic core. We have talked extensively about the crucial role of a digital transformation for companies, but, as the report from Harvard Business Review correctly states, “a digital transformation requires a talent transformation.” 

On-demand talent platforms can also take care of this aspect for businesses, by providing firms with a way to develop a new ability of sourcing the digital skills required to keep up with the changes brought on by new technology and automation. 

To strategize a relationship with the on-demand workforce, companies need to take the following steps: 

  • Reshape company culture: Employees often perceive freelancers as a threat, and leaders are often nervous about the effects that outsourcing work may have on their in-house staff. Educating employees about the nature and benefits of on-demand talent platforms can make all the difference. The key is to bring in-house staff to the realization that freelance workers are powerful allies that can bring new energy to the work and whose intent and purpose is to make everyone’s job easier.
  • Reorganize the work: Managers can no longer be vague when creating assignments. The work needs to be organized in very precisely defined components in order to be handed over to outside talent in the smoothest, most productive way possible. In-house workers and outside talent need a clear base to start from to work together seamlessly and oil the mechanism that will become more and more efficient as the collaboration evolves. 
  • Reassess abilities: In order to make the most out of assigning tasks to outside talent, a company needs to have a very clear picture of what skills they already have in-house. Once internal abilities have been mapped, a company can then work on coming up with the right balance between work that will be handled in-house and tasks that will be outsourced. 
  • Rewire policies and processes: Even the most open-minded companies willing to harness on-demand talent need to come to terms with the fact that most business regulations, policies, and processes were developed in the pre-digital era. This means that firms need to draw up new policies that take into account the new scenery in which they will operate today. From due diligence to intellectual property, from payment processes to technology risk, contracts and processes need to be updated and adapted to the modern landscape.

It’s not as daunting as it looks. Managers have been harnessing on-demand talent platforms for a while now: they know how it works and what advantages hiring on-demand talent can bring. These managers bring an edge to their businesses and can provide precious guidance through the process of talent transformation. Of course, the C-suite also needs to be ready to step into the digital era of talent. 

Ultimately, hiring on-demand talent presents undeniable advantages that are impossible to dismiss: it allows easier hiring for hard-to-fill jobs, offers access to a wide roster of special skills, reduces headcount, and provides high levels of flexibility. 

Engaging with the on-demand workforce holds an extremely high potential for a modern revolution that will ensure a company stays relevant, alive, and well in the modern era of the digital economy.

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