As organizations contend with talent shortages, all avenues need to be explored. Among contingent workforce programs’ options to locate talent are talent platforms, a growing segment of digital marketplaces that facilitate direct, digitally enabled contingent work arrangements, from sourcing through payment. These platforms enable a direct legal relationship between the manager and worker.

In its annual look at the state and evolution of these platforms, SIA’s “The Talent Platform Landscape: 2021 Update” report examines the growth drivers, market penetration of talent platforms as well as spend and growth worldwide. And according to the report, the market is set to soar to new heights, with SIA estimating the global market will reach $15.1 billion by 2022, representing a compound annual growth rate of 21% from 2019 to 2022. Following 20% year-over-year growth in 2019, growth quickened to 25% year over year in 2020, reaching $10.7 billion of spend worldwide.

This growth should make contingent workforce program managers take notice of this budding segment of digital talent platforms and, more importantly, understand how to approach it. These platforms represent an additional sourcing channel for organizations, and can be a great asset to managers if done right.

Find the Right Fit

Talent platforms represent a rapidly growing source of highly skilled knowledge workers, particularly in hard-to-find skills areas such as IT and marketing/creative, says Brian Wallins, SIA research manager and co-author of the report. “Though these two particular skill segments represent a majority of the talent platform workforce, the landscape is becoming increasingly diverse as incumbents expand into additional skill categories and geographies and more specialized entrants come to market,” Wallins notes.

“The value drivers propelling the relevance of talent platforms in the talent supply chain extends well beyond access to top-quality talent,” Wallins continued. “For example, vastly improved matching technology leveraging AI and machine learning is helping this landscape to curate the most relevant workers for buyers and deliver them at faster speeds than traditional models, while transparent worker ratings and reviews helps buyers make more informed talent decisions.”

According to Chris Paden, SIA’s director of contingent workforce strategies and research, Americas, the emergence of these platforms is not just expanding the staff augmentation process, but it is also building a new way to engage and approach talent.

But Paden adds that a change in mindset is required when engaging with these platforms.

“As a buyer organization I would evaluate the market, do some research about the platforms that are out there and how organizations are appealing to their specific needs,” Paden says. “There’s so many platforms emerging quickly, it’s challenging to know how one differentiates themselves, and if you’ve got a challenge with your staffing as a buyer organization, more than likely one of these platforms can appeal to your challenge.”

Paden adds, “I think it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of this ‘platformization.’ It’s happening in our staffing industry and it’s easy to grab a quick partner, or the first one that pitches to you.” Much like the selection process for MSPs, though, organizations need to invest the time to evaluate what platforms they partner with and what processes they build around those platforms and not just take the first option they come across, he says.

It’s easy to get lost in the different monikers for different platforms out there so buyers should do their homework, understand what each of the platforms offer and how they might be able to target the drivers for your CW program. For more clarity, SIA’s Talent Landscape Report, available to CWS Council members, can be found here.