Summary: SIA Gig Economy Conference 2019

By Glenn Laumeister, CEO AllWork

I just returned from the Staffing Industry Analyst annual Gig Economy conference in San Diego and here is a brief summary of what I learned.   First, San Diego is an amazing city with probably the best weather in the world and I would say my #1 choice for a conference — so much better than Vegas!

Now, about the world of staffing — there were three main themes that were discussed in roundtable and panel discussions by leaders representing staffing/temp agency, online/gig platforms, and enterprise buyers.

  1. Online platforms connecting workers with work are breaking out from being niche players into mainstream Fortune 500 adoption as enterprises look to go direct to use the platforms for the sourcing, managing, and paying of workers all on one platform.
  2. Vertically specific platforms are being adopted at a faster rate than more generic horizontal solutions. Companies are looking for very specific skills from workers who can quickly engage and become productive.
  3. The current options for sourcing of temporary and contingent labor are not meeting the needs of employers given the rapid changes in the labor market, specifically the acute labor shortage and changing worker preferences for flexible work arrangements.

That is, of course, why they have this conference and why it is very well attended.  The winds of change are blowing hard and companies simply cannot fill their temporary jobs the way they used to. As I was talking to the major employers I would ask, “what percentage of your workforce it temporary or contingent labor?”  The range was 20-25% and they all said they have hundreds or thousands of openings now that they can’t fill.

My other impression was that sometimes “Gig Economy” is not the best term to use in describing what is really going on. This is not Uber or TaskRabbit, this is companies looking to create a pool of workers who work in a long-term flexible way over a period of months or even years to fulfill specific critical business functions ranging from semi-skilled to very skilled.  

Bottom line, companies need to figure out how to better access talent that desires to work in a flexible or on-demand way. This means lots of opportunities for entrepreneurs who are building the next generation of on-demand work platforms for enterprises and replacing the fiftyyear-old temporary agency model with a data and technology stack built for the future of flexible work.