The Bureau of Labor and Statistics recent report highlights the significance of the “gig” worker as a growing trend. Many large corporations have adopted a “gig” worker strategy to power rapid innovation in their digital transformation efforts as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
For the first time in nearly 20 years, the number of available job openings has outpaced the number of available workers. For the IT department, this is almost a non-issue, since the available number of skilled and experienced technical professionals has been fewer in number than the exploding number of open positions for some time. The rise of the gig economy has encouraged many to move to providing their capabilities on a contract basis, some might say, driven by startups like Uber and others (pun intended!).
The traditional model of the past has become more a roadblock than a help, to the IT staffing model in this “gig economy” world. Previously, professionals were sourced, often with a substantial fee for their recruitment, via outside professional recruiters. Candidates are drawn from local areas, which, by definition, limits the available talent, or requires relocation, often at high cost, and even more critically, must be one willing to move to accept the position.
IT professionals, even more than most, are virtual by design. Many of these professionals are much more comfortable using collaboration and IM tools than speaking with others face-to-face. They find the efficiency and effectiveness of team work in the virtual work environment to be more comfortable and convenient in accomplishing their tasks.
Most enterprises today see most work accomplished in the virtual team collaboration world. Physical locations and team members on any given project are scattered across the landscape, but a common and high-speed communication network linking everyone everywhere with all-the-time anytime access makes location a non-issue.
One of the biggest issues in dealing with the gig economy, if one can get past the physical co-location issue, is finding the best skilled profession for the assignment. Further, the overall management and on-boarding ramp-up can be a deterrent, since most enterprises are geared toward the “few, the best, and the employee”, rather than a more transactional approach where the professional is assessed, contracted, and brought on board for a short-term project, rather than a multi-year career.
Beyond the finding, assessing, on-boarding, and management of these gig workers, there is the issue of limited fall back if the work fails to be delivered, is incorrect or unusable. What if the gig worker is not suitable for other reasons? Additionally, there is the issue of managing what might be a large number of independent contractors’ invoices, correlating those with work performed, and payment, all of which requires time, attention, and effort by the IT, HR, and finance departments.
Effective utilization of the gig economy is a key element of strategic success in the digital economy. Maximizing the efficiency and effectiveness of the methods by which this can be accomplished may be by creating strategic partnerships. These strategic partners provide a channel through which quality, proven contract professionals can be obtained, yet minimize the need for transactional exchanged.
By looking at the digital transformation efforts required in the enterprise road map, a set of key partnerships can be developed to support each of the demand “layers” present in today’s IT efforts. One layer may be the partner(s) supporting a traditional recruitment model, sourcing candidates for key positions that are truly long-term career needs of the enterprise.
Another provides proven teams around critical transformation, modernization, or migration efforts. These might be project oriented and utilize skills not necessary to the long-term strategy but required as core elements on the road map. These teams might also be required simply for scale, when the core team is focused on other priorities, but adding staff that would then need to be redeployed at the completion of the project would not necessarily be in the budget or plan for the enterprise.
Today’s IT environment is highly fluid, incredibly well connected, and by virtue of its own success, entirely virtual in most respects.
Finally, identifying and teaming with a partner that provides proven, vetted professionals on an as-needed, or gig, basis also provides a much-needed layer of control, management, and efficiency for the enterprise. Through this partner, specific skills and professional qualifications can be engaged without concern for the management, contracting, assessment of each individual. The partner provides accountability as well, to ensure the work product is a high-quality deliverable.
Today’s IT environment is highly fluid, incredibly well connected, and by virtue of its own success, entirely virtual in most respects. The ability to leverage these characteristics will be what may be the most powerful driver of a successful digital transformation.
How will you leverage the gig economy to drive innovation, reduce costs, improve efficiency and increase speed of digitization in your enterprise?
One tool that can assist in your assessment and utilization of the gig economy, outsourcing in general, and IT project readiness, is the IT Team Assessment tool we developed based on work with many companies across a variety of industries, projects, and types of engagements (gig, contract-to-hire, outsourced, etc.).You can access the IT Team Assessment tool here.