2018: Here Come the Gig Economy Consultants

Recruiting Daily Advisor previously reported on research from talent solutions provider Randstad Sourceright which finds companies are converting more full-time positions to freelance roles. Now, research from Business Talent Group (BTG), a provider of on-demand business talent, finds use of freelance consultants is also widespread, including in critical roles previously held by full-time staff.

BTG research shows Fortune 1000 companies are increasingly turning to freelance consultants to help with top strategic and operational priorities. What’s more, companies are moving away from traditional consulting’s heavy reliance on “smart generalists,” choosing instead to hire “subject matter experts” with practical experience and expertise in distinct industry and functional niches.

Where Experts Provide Assistance

BTG analysis finds that Fortune 1000 companies have sought the help of independent consultants and experts on projects ranging from market evaluations to supply chain optimization, big data to e-commerce, and more.
Specifically, BTG finds that enterprises seek expertise in the following areas:

  • Market opportunity and growth (22 percent)
  • Strategy and planning (21 percent)
  • Project and program management (18 percent)
  • Product, portfolio, and innovation (8 percent)
  • Transformations (8 percent)
  • Other (23 percent)

The firm’s research provides a snapshot into how top enterprise clients are relying on independent “gig economy” workers for specific skills and capabilities, which BTG notes represents a seismic shift away from legacy consulting models. The research shows that across all industries the greatest needs are for strategic and project leadership in highly specialized niches like distribution channel strategies, disruptive innovation, and market access.

Trends by Industry

BTG also finds key differences in how companies from various sectors prioritize the challenges and opportunities they face—and how they use freelance consultants to meet those needs. Here are examples:

  • Life science companies focus on project integration and market sizing opportunities, tapping expertise in specific therapeutic areas and niches such as market access and data analytics.
  • Financial services firms focus on a broad array of priorities, including marketing, sales, and IT strategies, as well as in-depth analyses of go-to-market opportunities.
  • Technology companies look for the next billion-dollar business, seeking cost-effective opportunity assessments and expertise in areas like sales and pricing.
  • Retail companies look for new ways to reach customers in a cluttered, competitive landscape, focusing on priorities from supply chain to the customer journey and B2C marketing.
  • Industrial companies look for ways to pull ahead of slow-growth and turbulent markets, combining independent consultants’ cutting-edge skills with hands-on experience to optimize margins and complete critical transformations.
  • Consumer packaged goods companies seek to find and evaluate new growth avenues, optimize pricing and supply chain, and develop brand strategies—all within a lean operational model.

“Whether you call it freelancing, the gig economy, the human cloud or on-demand talent, the way business works in the future will look vastly different than it does today. The organizations that embrace this change have already enjoyed real benefits, from a more flexible, agile workforce with faster access to industry experts to reduced consulting spend,” said Jody Greenstone Miller, cofounder and CEO of BTG.