The use of contingent labor is poised to grow, driven by increasing levels of acceptance of the non-traditional workforce as well as technological advances, said Barry Asin, president of Staffing Industry Analysts, during a presentation at CWS Council member Cisco’s Asia offices this week.

“The use of contingent work is going to increase,” Asin said. “We are seeing more and more acceptance of alternative work styles as well as more strategic use of contingent work as it gets integrated into corporate strategic planning. Of course, technology will continue to drive change. First it was VMS, then online staffing and the human cloud. Soon, artificial intelligence and robotics will impact work in general and contingent work specifically.”

Companies are increasingly accepting of the use of contingent workers, seeing their value in addressing several business challenges. Topping the list of benefits is helping to ease variable workloads and rapid growth of the organization, cited by 80% and 73% of respondents in an SIA survey.

Historically, companies would rely primarily on traditional staff and respond to workload trends with layoffs, Asin said.

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The growing acceptance of the contingent workforce model has eased that cycle.

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What lies ahead. Contingent workforce professionals responding to SIA’s Asia Pacific Contingent Buyer Surveys plan to increase their usage of contingent labor in the coming years: The median portion that will be contingent is 17% in two years and 20% in 10 years.

Technology has been a significant driver in the growth of the contingent workforce, specifically with the rise of vendor management systems. However, other forms of technology such as robotics have already had an effect on the workforce in some industries, such as manufacturing. Other AI applications are also poised to make an impact: Amazon has already announced plans to use drones to make some package deliveries and self-driving cars may have an effect as well. Meanwhile, AI such as IBM’s Ross, which operates in the legal space,  are also making an entrance.