In my last article, I covered six trends SIA’s analysts expect will affect the industry and your contingent workforce program this year. Here are six more trends poised to affect CW programs in 2020.

Artificial intelligence. The buzzword has floated around the industry for several years, but AI is now ready to fully impact the industry. “I believe the CW ecosystem will start levering AI in 2020 at levels never seen before to screen candidates, onboard, off board, interview, to name a few,” says Frank Enriquez, senior manager of contingent workforce strategies, knowledge and research, at SIA. Midsize staffing companies are already making strategic plans to alter recruiters’ roles as AI assumes much of their current responsibilities. Embrace AI, but keep in mind best practices — including ROI — because the exciting technology is evolving quickly, and mistakes could be difficult to recover from.

Data and analytics. Data is a powerful tool to help support a stance or propel a strategic change. However, an informal poll of some CW Council members found more than half, 56%, “infrequently” use existing data to predict future events (predictive analytics). How to obtain information — and what to do with it once you have it — will be of critical importance to CW managers this year. “Buyers will want more, will struggle to get it and then when they finally do get it, they will struggle with what to do with it,” says Dawn McCartney, VP of the CWS Council. “We already have a ton of data and analytics that our current VMS technology provides us, and yet most programs do not access it or use it.”

Talent focus. Talent will remain a key topic of conversation as programs opportunistically build new ways to more efficiently acquire talent — including developing known talent pools for direct sourcing and leveraging freelancer management system platforms for on-demand staffing. Program managers will need to understand how to formally manage and optimize these new talent sourcing channels, identifying which are the best to use for certain engagement manager contingent workforce requirements. “This is a new management practice that is emerging quickly, and it will be an important best practice for leading CW programs to establish,” says Stephen Clancy, SIA’s senior director of contingent workforce strategies, knowledge and research.

Candidate experience. While finding talent will remain difficult, keeping it will be an even harder challenge this year. Contingent workers tend to think that they are working for the end buyer, not for the supplying agency, so make sure to provide a brand and program that contingent workers are bragging about and not complaining about. It is critical that programs work to make contingent workers feel included, even if it makes the buyer organization uncomfortable. A happy candidate will want to remain with the buyer organization and promote its brand, both as a great place to work and a great product/service to purchase. And on the flip side, social media platforms now allow an unhappy contingent worker to voice their dissatisfaction faster than ever before.

Candidate evaluation. Traditional methods of evaluating candidates will evolve as technology and AI impacts the industry. The value will shift to candidates’ abilities, aptitudes and skill sets as opposed to their past work histories. Expect less focus on résumé experience and more attention paid to personality and abilities. “Companies will value what a resource is capable of as opposed to the years of experience they have prior to an engagement,” says Chris Paden, SIA’s director of CWS and research.

Talent brand. The continuing war for talent now also extends to the contingent workforce. This, combined with the trend towards total talent management, means the contingent worker engagement brand needs proper management and proactive investments. Since 20% to 30% of full-time hires are the result of converting contingent workers to full-time status, these workers are an important pipeline for an organization’s talent. This is especially true when implementing passive recruiting strategies such as direct sourcing and/or SOW management; the pools will need to contain the best available talent, and the CW engagement brand will be a critical tool in getting the best talent to engage.

This article is based on the SIA workforce solutions webinar, “What to Expect in 2020 and Beyond.” A replay of the webinar is available online to CWS Council members.