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Talent as a Service: End of outsourcing or new beginning?

Posted by Chad O'Connor  November 6, 2013 11:05 AM

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Fourteen years ago – back when “cloud” was purely a descriptor for unwanted weather patterns and far from synonymous with anything technology related – Marc Benioff disrupted the multi-billion dollar enterprise software industry when he launched Salesforce.com and famously declared the “End of Software.”

Since Benioff’s proclamation and the subsequent arrival of his “Software as a Service” (SaaS) vision, which he later modified to “Platform as a Service” (PaaS), several other forward-looking companies have similarly upended and transformed entire industries. In some cases, they’ve brought formidable competitors to their knees, if not put them flat out of business. They’ve capitalized on the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of cloud computing to deliver their product faster, easier and more effectively than traditional service providers. They’ve also done something equally dramatic – they’ve redefined the tangible “product” and its cumbersome infrastructure altogether, instead offering it as a service.

The list of other disrupting “as a Service” providers like Salesforce.com is as diverse as it is impressive. They’ve all leveraged three key ingredients: a new twist on an old idea; a new source of supply (the buyers of these new services) and a scalable, cloud-centric delivery platform capable of reaching customers around the globe. These include some obvious names like Amazon.com and Netflix, but also Dropbox and AirBnb.

So after software, storage, movies, music, books and bed & breakfasts, what is the next segment space ripe for disruption?

Well, the answer is …… Labor. Human Resources. Expertise. People. Talent. All of the above.

Right around the same time that Salesforce.com and Netflix were founded, corporations were just starting to explore the potential for leveraging the cloud for applications such as storage, virtualization and hosting, as well as for highly specialized business services, such as website and content translation. As cloud computing has become more widely adopted, businesses of all sizes are recognizing they can take the cloud concept further and tap a virtual, global labor pool to further increase productivity, maximize the elasticity of their existing workforce and reduce labor costs. This business process has come to be known as “crowdsourcing” and it enables businesses to dynamically match a specific business need to a pre-qualified global pool of workers. The resulting innovation eliminates much of the static infrastructure required for traditional staffing systems, and in doing so, is transforming the manner in which work gets done.

Today, the “crowd in the cloud” is helping companies procure new skill sets in a new buyer/provider model that that we call “Talent-as-a-Service” or (TaaS). This new labor model is proving highly effective in helping organizations to reduce costs, gain knowledge and capabilities and increase efficiency all without adding headcount or committing to inflexible, long-term outsourcing relationships.

Big brands and large organizations across industries are rapidly adopting this model to gain seamless delivery of highly-qualified, on-demand expertise delivered securely through a cloud-based platform.

Fourteen years after Benioff’s Salesforce.com launched SaaS, business process crowdsourcing is rapidly advancing as another “as a Service” option for corporations for many of the same reasons. While we’re not declaring the end of outsourcing, crowdsourcing is clearly emerging as one of the next “as a Service” options that is disrupting the talent sourcing market and is dramatically changing how work gets done.

Martha Crow is Senior Vice President of Global Enterprise Solutions at Lionbridge.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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