Talent marketplaces: the future of content

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25 May 2017

Talent marketplaces: the future of content

accenture-tech-vision-2017-trend-3A recent report from Accenture on workplace trends (Technology Vision 2017 – Workforce Marketplace) has predicted that “talent marketplaces” – that is, organisations that operate via an “on-demand” outsourced network of freelancers or contractors – are set to completely revolutionise the world of work and business. Could this be the death knell for the traditional in-house workforce model?

The Accenture report argues that the traditional modes of running a business, with fixed in-house resources and hierarchical structures, are no longer fit for purpose.

While companies with so-called “legacy” structures flag in the face of a rapidly shifting business landscape and increased competition, modern digital businesses with flexible models are thriving. The latter companies are:

“flourishing by leveraging technology solutions that address the talent problem: efficiently matching the supply and demand for people and skills in a highly personalised way.”

This is a trend that spans practically every market sector and industry, whether we take the much-vaunted examples of Airbnb in the travel/accommodation sector, Uber or Lyft in urban transport, or Farfetch in fashion retail: a business which runs the ecommerce operations of hundreds of independent boutiques, without holding any inventory itself.

The digital revolution has made it possible to build a market-leading business without needing to offer a physical product or maintain a highly-resourced office full of in-house staff. These digital leaders either facilitate the connection of consumers with goods or services from a network of vendors, or the connection of businesses with a network of relevant skilled individuals.

With fewer physical assets and digitally-driven operations, such businesses can drastically reduce expenditure on rents, business rates and property overheads. This makes them leaner and more apt to survive in the hugely competitive digital environment.

The trend also extends to the content marketing industry. As the demand for high-quality digital content has increased explosively in recent years, brands are now expected to act as publishers – but the operational challenges of creating high volumes of content, at speed and scale and in multiple languages, are formidable.

Hiring a dedicated team of content creators to sit in-house – producing content for thousands of product SKUs, for example – is simply not cost-effective or practical for the vast majority of retail brands.

Some have turned to AI in attempts to overcome these challenges. But as Ben Davis, Deputy Editor at Econsultancy, noted in his recent article The future of content is marketplaces, not AI, AI technologies such as marketing bots and automated, machine-generated content are not nearly mature enough to produce on-brand, error-free content of a sufficient quality. In his words: “natural language processing is nowhere near good enough to craft long form copy….”

According to Ben, marketplaces are the future of content creation – a view that I certainly share having founded Quill with our unique model that combines an outsourced network of talented freelancers, enabling technology and in-house expertise to generate high-performing ecommerce content rapidly and efficiently.

Further expanding on Ben’s stance and the insights from the Accenture report, it’s worth noting that, whilst businesses with a flexible model and a freelance, marketplace-style pool of expertise are better equipped to meet the uncertain market conditions of the future, an outsourced model alone is not enough to guarantee success. Talent marketplaces also need to be underpinned by:

Enabling technology
Without a scalable technological platform, managing a large network of freelancers – whether to allocate tasks, issue communications, process payments, monitor performance, approve work or store basic data – is an impossible challenge. That’s why, at Quill, we have developed our proprietary technology, the Quill Cloud, to manage our global network of content creators, generate high volumes of error-free content and automate complex production processes to maximise efficiency.

Centralised governance and expertise
Whether this is to ensure all freelancers are providing a consistent experience and upholding brand values, or delivering a consistent level of quality in their output, there must be some enshrined, centralised practices to govern an outsourced network. At Quill, the Quill Methodology is how we refer to the unique processes, knowledge and ways of working that enable us to create consistently high-quality content at speed and scale, via our network of 2000+ freelance content creators.

It is the combination of these factors – an outsourced talent network, innovative enabling technology and centralised governance – that makes Quill both a unique player in the content creation space, and, as highlighted in the Accenture report, uniquely equipped to meet the challenges of the new on-demand business landscape of the future.

Ed Bussey @ Quill ContentFounder & CEO

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