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EY, formally known as Ernst & Young, like a lot of managed service providers (MSPs) is sorely pressed to find the IT professionals it needs to work on specific projects. All told, the provider of consulting, auditing, and managed services needs to hire over 60,000 people a year. To help address a widening skills gap in the IT industry EY is now looking to tap into the Gig Economy.

Rather than trying to fill every need using full-time employees, Jeff Wong, chief innovation officer for EY, says EY is beta testing a GigNow web site through which it plans to invite first EY alumni and then other classes of technology professionals that have no existing ties to EY to participate in an EY project for a specific amount of time.

An untapped potential

Wong says there’s a wealth of expertise that EY can tap into to better serve clients. Via the GigNow initiative EY is making a concerted effort to allow professionals with a broad range of expertise to participate in EY projects on their own terms in a manner similar to how Uber goes about recruiting drivers.

EY decided to implement GigNow after coming to the realization that the only countries with a surplus of labor are India, Mexico, and China. Given the global nature of competition it makes sense to reduce the friction associated with tapping into expertise wherever EY can find it. As part of accomplishing that goal Wong says EY consciously decided to give GigNow its own look and feel on the Web versus making it conform to EY branding. 

CompTIA recently reported the IT sector based on statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor added an estimated 9,600 new jobs in July. Through the end of July CompTIA says the IT sector had added an estimated 72,100 positions. Barring anything resembling a global recession competition for talent is not likely to slacken. Naturally, there will be advances in artificial intelligence (AI) to automate most lower level tasks that can often be more consistently handled by a machine. EY, for example, has developed over 1,000 software bots to automate various tasks. But as a standard operating procedure MSPs will increasingly need to rely of a more fluid workforce. The good news, at least from the perspective of the owners of the MSP, is that tapping into the Gig Economy coupled with more reliance on AI should act as governor in rising labor costs.

Challenges organizations will face

Whether it’s because a person with the right expertise is between jobs, semi-retired or staying at home to focus on children, there’s a lot of untapped expertise in the world. The challenge many organizations now face is a finding a way to tap into the expertise in as frictionless way possible. Professionals participating in the Gig Economy are naturally going to gravitate to the organizations able to insulate them from over complex human resources processes and internal corporate politics. Once the task is completed those professionals are also going to want assurances they will be paid promptly. At the same time, MSPs are going to need to able to vouch for those professionals, which generally means at least some form of background check.

While the Gig Economy has taken the concept to a higher level, freelancing has been around for ages. The term itself has its roots in literally in the notion of hiring a mercenary capable of bringing their own lance to the fight. As any medieval warlord might be able to testify, however, managing all those free lances requires a special set of skills. After all a standing army of full-time employees may be more expensive to maintain. Freelancers participating in a Gig Economy, on the other hand, remain loyal to their employer based more on who they like to work with and their needs of the moment rather than any major emotional commitment to the cause at hand.

Photo Credit: StanislauV / Shutterstock.

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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