A recent Staffing Industry Analysts survey tried to gauge staffing firms’ awareness of online staffing and their response to it. Some 80 percent of the 534 respondents were either unaware or not interested in such services.
The remaining 20 percent that reported they were contemplating action, they were either:
- Considering building such a service over the next two years (6 percent);
- Or likewise partnering (6 percent);
- Were currently building (3 percent) or partnering (2 percent) with such a service;
- Currently own such a service (2 percent);
- Or are considering acquiring such a service over the next two years (1 percent).
You might think that IT firms would be the exception, as IT staffing is one of the areas most vulnerable to competition from online staffing, but incredibly, among IT staffing firms, too, only 19 percent of the respondents said they are aware and are doing something about it!
I would have thought that more IT staffing firms would be due diligence to determine whether online staffing is an opportunity, threat or just some new fad before dismissing it altogether.
According to Andrew Karpie, affiliate analyst with Staffing Industry Analysts, online staffing is not going to simply fade away … just as VMS and MSPs didn’t vanish simply because the staffing industry wished it to. More than 50 percent of online staffing work completed to date has been IT work, especially related to software development, Karpie said. Additionally, this new model also provides access to far-away talent, which is another huge plus for IT jobs.
“Software and IT knowledge work not only lends itself to being performed in online settings, in fact software development platforms such as Atlassian, Stackoverflow, Gild, are already moving in that direction to support online activities,” Karpie explained. “Not all software and IT work is suited to be conducted online, but a good part can be. As an IT staffing firm, I would be thinking about how this online model could give me competitive advantages in terms of talent sourcing/engagement and fulfillment speed and efficiency, as well as how it could help me bring my clients whole new service offerings (shift from being just a staffing logistics provider--moving "brains in bodies"-- to being a service provider that also brings clients (TaaS) Talent-as-a-Service offerings).”
I would agree. Just as not all jobs are suited to be shipped offshore just because of low costs, it doesn’t mean that offshore outsourcing is not a viable option for certain types of work.
Now, I have to say that the latest survey numbers are a slight improvement from 2012. While the number of staffing firms that are taking action on this is small, they are definitely moving in the right direction of exploring opportunities. For those who are mulling over options, I recommend the report How to Succeed in Online Staffing. While it would be silly to dismiss staffing and write its obituary (we all remember the days when job boards started, don’t we?), it would decidedly not be a good idea to turn a blind eye toward online staffing either.