CWS 3.0: October 23, 2013


The Future of CW Technology

By Jim Halling

At the CWS Summit in Chicago last month, I participated in a panel discussion on the topic of contingent workforce technologies. I focused on “the future” and included some perspectives on emerging trends that might result in new technological innovations.

The workforce continues to evolve as the growth of workers supplied by third parties continues to become a larger part of the “broader workforce” — the combination of employed and supplied workers. Several informed predictions suggest that sometime between 2015 and 2020, this combined workforce will become a 50/50 blend. The employed and supplied workforces have traditionally been managed separately by both talent acquisition teams and functional managers. This is slowly changing as procurement and human resources teams are working more closely together and functional managers are using new processes and techniques in workforce management.

Here are the seven observations that I offered regarding requirements that hiring managers will have in the not too distant future. Many of them are already surfacing in isolated instances. For each of the seven items, ask yourself, “How will technology respond?”

  1. Workforce decision support functionality. Hiring managers struggle with how to determine which worker construct is best in any particular situation. Many organizations have built their own automated decision-support mechanism. The workforce will continue to evolve. 
  2. Universal requisition management. Hiring managers are asking for a single source for initiating and managing new-hire requisitions. In addition, talent acquisition teams, internal recruiters, external recruiters, recruitment process outsourcing providers, vendor management system users and staffing suppliers would all benefit from accessing a common platform. 
  3. Standardized onboarding. In many cases, the onboarding process for a company is disjointed and underleveraged. Survey data shows that a common, comprehensive onboarding process will allow for focus on best practices and improved worker intake experience improving satisfaction and engagement rates. 
  4. Integrated talent management systems. The traditional human resource information system (HRIS) has evolved into a human resource management system (HRMS) incorporating other talent management systems like compensation, learning and training, performance, and workforce planning. The incorporation of third-party worker information will result in more efficient and effective program management and workforce performance. 
  5. Single source measurement, reporting, and analytics. Increasing utilization of non-employee workforce types will dictate the need for more robust workforce analysis and reporting. Workforce information will be merged into a common data repository allowing for measurement, reporting, and analysis for the entire workforce. Companies will not only report on number of employees but also on non-employee workers by type. 
  6. Holistic workforce planning. With up to 50 percent of workers being non-employees, strategic workforce planning programs will be forced to include workers from all sources.
  7. Enhanced workforce management. “Managers of People” will need strengthened skills and training regarding managing virtual teams comprised of both employees and contingent workers across multiple geographies and skill sets. Those with the best skills, training and technological support in this area will have a competitive advantage with workforce optimization. 

As I worked through the list and our panel members answered questions from the audience I reflected on the title of our discussion – “Contingent Workforce Technologies” — and asked myself whether there will even be a technology segment with that name in 10 years.

How will technology respond?

Jim Halling is a senior associate with Brightfield Strategies. He can be reached at


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