Marketplaces and value creation in the gig economy

Digital-based marketplaces have become a lifeline for the gig economy and for those who participate in it: the people who need talent and those who offer it.  The immediate value of a Platform is the accessibility they offer, including their purpose and other features. Relevance, both of a marketplace and what its users expect, is naturally a binding factor.

A key frontier of the gig economy is of Platforms are helping businesses connect with key specialists. XpertReach is one such ease-of-use and talent-on-demand platform, which prides itself on the value that it offers to experts and those needing their expertise. This platform enables the full life cycle of talent search and deployment, from need identification to talent matching, work tracking to invoicing and payment.

XpertReach is the brainchild of professionals who themselves have years of experience in working on projects for large companies across Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Companies, both large and small, despite often having very strong brands, can face challenges in attracting or hiring key professionals, especially for short-term or “immediate” requirements. This often resulted in sub-optimal hiring through references and known networks, or through an increasing dependency on large consulting firms. The XpertReach platform offers corporations the choice of sourcing high quality expertise-on-demand for key projects, at a fraction of the cost of using top consulting firms. The consultants on this platform have a diverse set of functional and industry expertise.

Digital marketplaces have revolutionised the gig economy and are mushrooming across different verticals. It is estimated that there are 2,000 plus such platforms globally, with Amazon Mechanical Turk, and Upwork being among the large-scale and most popular ones. Upwork, for instance, is said to connect 12 million registered freelancers with 5 million business clients. According to McKinsey & Company’s Global Institute, ‘online talent platforms’ would drive growth in the global job market and could add $2.7 trillion to the global GDP.

With so many platforms elbowing each other, what sets them apart is the value they create and the niche in which they operate. Besides those which are general freelance platforms, specialised contracting platforms such as, 99designs for design and Cad Crowd for engineering are also in the fray. There are sophisticated crowdsourced problem-solving sites like InnoCentive and Kaggle as well. What is interesting is that some of these platforms are increasingly gaining traction with consultants and the consulting industry too.

XpertReach is differentiated in its focus on emerging markets, serving clients in Asia, Middle East and Africa. It seeks to meet the particular requirements of emerging and growth markets through vetted consultants who have relevant and verified experience. All applications are vetted through a stringent XpertReach curation process which includes checking for completeness, educational qualifications and experience, and are subject to review and approval by an empanelled team. XpertReach matches consultants to verified projects and therefore helps to maintain authenticity and mitigates risks for its users. The platform also offers an articulate set of guidelines so both clients and consultants can take maximum benefit of the features of the platform. It also offers sample documents for agreements which can be used to initiate a professional and working relationship between a consultant and a client.

A report by McKinsey & Company, in 2016, on consulting and the gig economy revealed that 75 per cent of surveyed gig consultants were earning more or the same amount of money than they did in their traditional roles thus debunking the thinking that increased flexibility and autonomy means sacrificing a salary.

Digital-based marketplace platforms have indeed taken the gig economy into a growth trajectory and have been very useful for a large number of independent workers and professionals. However, for platforms which are niche and very particular about the end results for their users, providing greater value to them will take priority over just gaining a large user base.