Crying wolf ...

I was browsing the Web recently and came across this headline, "Elance plans to disrupt temp staffing through Web."

Pretty dramatic, don't you think? The second paragraph went on to quote Elance CEO Fabio Rosati about how he thinks his company, which is basically a workplace exchange site, can provide a better experience for customers.

"Just like Monster and [Yahoo.com's] Hot Jobs killed the print classified business, iTunes killed Tower Records, and Netflix went after Blockbuster, we think we can provide a better experience," the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal quoted Elance CEO Fabio Rosati. "It's like skipping the travel agent and going directly online to get your own booking."

The one thought in my mind after reading was, "not another doomsday prediction." I am sure a few of us remember the mid '90s -- the emergence of job boards -- when everyone was predicting the demise of staffing. And then came the e-mania when the oracles announced that staffing as we know it will cease to exist. This was followed by the advent of various exchanges, vendor management systems and offshore outsourcing. But each new phenomenon would excite the naysayers to wax eloquent about the doom of the staffing industry.

But here we are. It is 2008 and the staffing industry is still going strong at a projected $133.4 billion.

There was a time when some job boards wouldn't allow staffing firms to post jobs on their Web sites, but they changed their minds soon enough. Reason? It wasn't a good business strategy. The staffing industry has weathered many such storms and has survived. Take for instance the whole offshore outsourcing issue. Yes, it was painful, but many staffing firms are looking for creative ways to work it to their advantage. Some are now looking into cost savings in offshoring the initial part of the recruiting function or getting into project management, which as we know can make or break a project that is outsourced.

Yes, e-business, job boards, exchanges, VMS, offshore outsourcing are great business models, but they are more likely to blend into the fabric of staffing rather than eliminate it.

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