Are we Finally at a Technology Tipping Point in the Contingent Workforce Industry?
My thoughts on the Changing VMS Landscape
Matt Jessop is Chief Technology Officer at Chateau Consulting
I’m lucky that after more than 20 years, I’d still happily talk for hours about our industry to anyone who would listen. My work is all about the contingent workforce and the vendor management systems (VMS) that help shape it. From having co-founded one of the early VMS providers to having been directly involved in over 100 implementations and optimizations, the strengths, weaknesses, and potential of VMS are what I am hugely passionate about. (I guess this is why I don’t get invited to many parties?)
It’s true the general public might not get super excited about the inner workings of the workforce. But if you are reading this blog, you may work in the same industry and probably know your fair share of what the VMS landscape is like. You may also understand that the business of how we all find work today is actually pretty fascinating. I still marvel at how the workforce industry has evolved. My first job in recruitment involved a rolodex, and the Yellow Pages. Now anyone can apply for a job with a click of their phone.
Technology has certainly been the driving force behind this evolution, and until recently there have been two players—Beeline and SAP—that dominate multi-country VMS. These providers continue to grow and dominate the market which, in my opinion, has the potential for stifling future innovations. But there’s good news. By understanding several key factors that are showing potential for shaking things up on the VMS front, workforce solution professionals are once again at a tipping point of creativity and change.
In my view, these include several key factors:
Emerging Providers: The likes of Coupa, SimplifyVMS, Vndly, and others are growing their capabilities, geographical coverage, and business models, leading to greater competition, innovation, and choice for clients.
More Intelligent SOW Strategies: Statement of Work is the next staffing challenge. VMS providers have been ahead of the curve in this area for some time, having rich SOW capabilities that have not always been taken full advantage of. Now that SOW programs are starting to be rolled out, this will drive innovation and maturity, with benefits flowing back to contingent workforce programs.
Integrations: Long seen as a necessary evil of deploying a VMS, integrations are moving up in the world. Significant improvements in API technologies and the emergence of Integration Platform as a Service (IPaaS) providers such as Mulesoft, Dell Boomi, Cyclr, and Zapier mean that integrations are now an enabler instead of a constraint.
Complementary Technologies: Technology providers have always paid a lot of attention to the permanent recruitment market while overlooking the needs of contingent workforce management. Yet many of these technologies could add significant value to the contingent workforce market, and we are finally starting to see VMS providers develop their partner marketplaces. There is a lot of value to be gained here.
Analytics: We’re barely scratching the surface of analytics’ potential—but at least we are scratching. The smartest companies, like Brightfield, Horsefly, Emsi & LinkedIn, know that there are significant advantages in taking analytics seriously when it comes to the workforce.
Total Talent: One of the strengths of VMS systems in general is their focus on all forms of non-permanent labor and the subsequent richness of these strategies. However, this has always been at odds with the much-debated topic of Total Talent Acquisition. Is the lack of holistic talent acquisition technologies the reason the topic has barely developed beyond a concept—or is it the lack of real-world demand? I’m excited to see how this plays out in two real-world scenarios unfolding right now: What will Cornerstone do with their TalentLink acquisition from Saba? And how will our industry react to Utmost’s close alliance with Workday and the potential for their platform to drive change?
Mid-Market: VMS has mostly been the domain of Enterprise-type organizations because of the associated complexities presenting barriers to adoption by the wider market. But as advances in integration technologies and adoption of agile implementation methodologies develop, these barriers are being eroded. MSPs developing offerings for mid-market clients is also driving change in this area. I see this wider adoption of VMS solutions driving innovation and efficiencies that can benefit companies large and small.
For all of these reasons and more, it is an exciting time to be working in the HR tech space. Yet as you can imagine, these factors are also making the VMS landscape more challenging than ever to navigate. There are plenty of upsides to be gained—if you are willing to do things differently to experience different—and better—results.
A Workforce Solution that Finally Works: My New Journey with Chateau Consulting
This is why I am excited to be starting my own journey with Chateau Consulting as their technology advisor. Joining Tom Kaminsky, Eric Williams and their team at Chateau, we’re really embracing a new point of view for the workforce solutions space, bringing together our diverse expertise to advise clients holistically and without bias on VMS technologies and many other aspects of building out better workforce solutions.
So whether we’re talking to technology providers, an MSP or RPO, suppliers of talent, talent themselves—or the client executive team who simply want to better understand exactly what’s needed to initiate change––we want to solve critical issues from a raw, authentic point of view.
In Tom’s words, “We are simplifying the process.”
Continuing to look ahead
Though I do at times reminisce about the analogue days of work, I wouldn’t want to go back. It’s amazing what these technologies are doing for companies and how they’re shaping the way they connect with and manage their workforce. I look forward to joining forces with Tom, Eric and the entire Chateau team to help organizations create sustainable change, where solutions add continuous value, and are embedded within the fabric of doing business.
ABOUT CHATEAU CONSULTING:
We are a boutique workforce solutions firm specializing in helping clients break through the complexity resulting from multiple talent sources, inefficient processes, disparate technology, changing market conditions, and lack of centralized governance or shared leadership model. Founded by Thomas Kaminsky, our key team members and advisors like Matt Jessop have operated in the industry since the 1990s and boast an unrivaled wealth of knowledge and experience in all workforce solutions-related matters. Follow Chateau Consulting on LinkedIn and visit: https://www.chateau-consulting.com