Over the past year, I’ve spent a lot of time with the Open Assembly community. Our weekly discussions focus on the Open Talent economy and the future of work. I’ve landed up in break-out rooms chatting with the leading lights of open innovation – people who’ve earned their spurs at NASA and GE and Deloitte and other pioneering organisations. And I’ve picked the brains of some of the incredible people building talent marketplaces and platforms.
It’s a super exciting space to be in. There’s a sense of being in at the start of something really big.
Exploring has been rewarding on two fronts: Firstly, I’ve wandered well outside my established networks which is always as fun and stretching as it is daunting — in a good way! Secondly, it’s made me think about where our outsourcing business, Indigo Premedia, fits in a new world of work that’s open, agile, and networked.
We see Indigo Premedia as part of the burgeoning Open Talent ecosystem. By that I mean the way enterpises look beyond their walled gardens and seek contingent workers in other places.
Our contribution is to make it easy for creative agencies in other parts of the world to access great talent in India, and other low-cost territories. There is an abundance of highly skilled talent but it’s often hard to reach and tough to engage.
As remote work has become mainstream, we’ve seen a spike in demand. Covid-19, it seems, validated our business model. So perhaps the logical step would be to build a platform, a marketplace, on which there’s ever more talent to discover and more agencies hiring. Such platform businesses are scalable and their valuations are very sexy. As a result, there’s bucket loads of smart money swirling around that space.
But at the same time, a customer listening exercise that we undertook gave me pause for thought.
That research told us of the value that our agency customers attribute to the service delivery part of our offering. By that I mean — the account management, problem solving, ‘translating’ requirements and managing the cultural barriers of cross-border telecommuting, timely communication, and clarity in pricing and commercial agreements. All the stuff that makes for a smooth outsourcing experience; all the stuff that doesn’t exist when you simply act as matchmaker.
Agencies can, and of course do, find talent via platforms. But just as a matchmaking service can’t guarantee chemistry between the two parties and takes no responsibility for the outcome of the date, so marketplaces can’t promise that the partnership will flourish.
By continuing to be a services’ business — nurturing the partnerships, owning the delivery — we feel we can better contribute to the chances of both parties’ success.