One of the biggest influencers in our market is technology. Until recently, the staffing world has seen slow technology growth and adoption compared to other industries. But over the last year, a flood of new technology solutions has been reshaping how we build and operate our contingent labor programs and how we look at the workforce holistically. Here, I explore the impact of new technology on our ecosystem and how it is revolutionizing our industry.

The VMS. One of the most obvious places to see technology change is within vendor management systems, which were cutting-edge when they first came out over 20 years ago in how they applied basic process automation for engaging staffing providers for talent. With more than 80% of buyers now using a VMS tool, providing the basics isn’t enough anymore. Mature programs are demanding more from VMS tools — and not just in the obvious places like the user interface. Smart programs are now looking for ways to better understand the data within their systems and more importantly, they want to call on the right data at the right times.

This demand is exposing transactional trends and creating new analytics functionality within the VMS to organize data into easy-to-understand visualizations. Many CW programs are recognizing that their VMS system is a shell for core data that is vital to managing costs, risk, efficiency and quality talent. While many VMS systems are enhancing their data capabilities inside of the application, others are recognizing that they also need the ability to connect to external systems easily and often.

Standard integrations are no longer focused on client data like users and locations coming into the system with invoices and worker records being exported from the tool. The new standards include integrating in data sources like market rates and having open API connections with ancillary systems for functions like background checks. Integrations and data might not seem like the exciting functionality we have all been waiting for, but these approaches are laying the groundwork for an interconnected tech stack that sets the stage for the next phase of technology transformation we are all eager to see.

Going AI. Another area of VMS technology adoption is centered on the talent themselves and how organizations find, organize and retain talent. While some VMS systems are growing this functionality native within their application, others are adding this functionality through integrations with outside talent pools or freelance management systems. This area of sourcing technology is driven by several advanced technology concepts that are becoming the new bells and whistles that buyers long for. While “Artificial Intelligence” is a general term, there are several AI applications that are helping programs find maturity beyond the basic robotic process automation that exists within the VMS. I have even heard the term AI used as a verb in in terms of fixing a problem, as in “we can just AI that.”

AI is the concept of programing a function to replicate or mimic human thinking. This can be applied at any point throughout your process where the tasks can be repeatable and consistent. We see this gaining traction in the sourcing processes to help match candidates/workers to job requests, but not just based on a basic skills match. These matching algorithms can look beyond the basic qualifications and create more depth and accuracy to the match by also looking at location, rate, availability, quality scores and even personality type. Now, we don’t just make basic matches like suggesting a previous business analyst for a business analyst role. We look for deeper associations that assess fit and appropriateness in less traditional ways. This application of AI has the potential to completely change how we interact with providers, candidates and — most importantly — changes the role of the recruiter.

Talent agents. Traditionally, the recruiter has been responsible for finding the talent, contacting and gathering interest in a role, and then managing the matching, interviewing and hiring processes when successful. In a new age of technology, all of these functions have the potential to be automated. However, this doesn’t mean robots are going to replace recruiters. Rather, it repositions the recruiter to do what humans do best: create relationships, trust and partnership with resources.

Some organizations have been successful at commoditizing a role to a point where no human interaction is needed in the process. While it is possible to automate the hiring cycle without having any human interaction, there is still little adoption of a full-cycle, recruiterless approach, suggesting that it may be a slow evolution of the recruiter’s role in the process. The technology is available and ripe for implementation, but there is still hesitancy from the “traditional” segment of the workforce to interface with a chat bot instead of a person. Over time, we expect this shift to accelerate, though, which will position recruiters as more of a talent agent representing the resources and providing advocacy through the process much like sports agents operate today.

In my next article I will discuss the future of the résumé and how advances in technology will change how candidates’ experiences will be conveyed and other means hiring organizations will have to determine proper fit.