Author Archives: Andrew Karpie



Utmost’s Extended Workforce System: What’s Behind It, What Is It and What Does It Mean for Enterprises?

It is important for enterprises to have a handle on the whole of their contingent (or extended) workforce. Not just temporary workers supplied by staffing firms, but also workers that are engaged through service providers (ranging from building maintenance companies to management consulting firms and BPOs ). And then there are the independent and freelancer workers of all kinds, however they are classified.

A new workforce technology start-up, Utmost, thinks it’s very important to enterprises — and workers too. The company recently announced the launch of its core platform, Utmost Extended Workforce System, and an $11 million series A round led by Greylock Partners and a partnership with Workday Ventures. The company, with offices in San Francisco and Dublin, was founded by two former Workday executives and a former Groupon technologist.

With respect to where there is a critical gap in the solution marketplace, the co-founder and CEO of Utmost, Annrai O’Toole, said in a recent announcement: “With hundreds of millions of extended workers engaged with companies today, there is an undeniable shift happening, yet it is clear that businesses need new, seamless solutions to transparently manage this population.”

Greylock partner Sarah Guo offered a starker assessment of the gap in the market: “Companies in every sector engage with an extended workforce, but the rigid and clunky systems used to manage that workforce are stuck in the past. Utmost is a cloud solution for the modern, flexible enterprise, and offers a worker-centric approach to manage this population that enterprises previously lacked.”

To be clear, Utmost is building an advanced open-technology platform that will be valued by enterprises right out of the gate. But, just as important (if not more so), the company is also taking a “worker-centric” approach, starting with easy-to-use mobile apps and efficient engagement workflows for external workers (and it is also working on delivering a set of enabling services to these often severely underserved workers).

In this PRO brief, Spend Matters examines the conditions that are creating a demand for a solution like Utmost Extended Workforce, provides an explanation of the solution and looks at what it means for enterprises.

Brightfield (TDX) raises $53 million to light up the extended workforce

procurement

Brightfield — a New York City-based artificial intelligence and big data analytics company that optimizes contract labor spend and program performance for employers, MSPs and staffing firms — announced today that it has received an investment of $53 million to fuel its market expansion and the continuing development of its platform, Talent Data Exchange (TDX).

The Series A round was led by Sapphire Ventures, with participation by MissionOG, CapitalOne Growth Ventures and Telescope Partners. A valuation for the company has not been disclosed.

Spend Matters has been covering Brightfield and the development of TDX for several years, and tracing the arc of Brightfield’s evolution from a consulting firm to a subscription-based data analytics platform business.

Read this coverage now and look for our analysis later.

The Contingent Workforce and Services (CW/S) Insider’s Hot List: October 2019

Welcome to the October 2019 edition of Spend Matters Insider’s Hot List, a monthly look at the contingent workforce and services (CW/S) space that’s available to our PLUS and PRO subscribers. For those new to the Hot List, each edition covers the prior month’s important or interesting technology and innovation developments in the CW/S space.

Let’s check on September’s developments, like our update of vendor rankings in SolutionMap, a look at California’s new AB-5 law on employee classification, industry partnerships like the Upwork-Workforce Logiq plan, and a look at this question: What do Match.com, Tinder and gig platforms have in common?

Workforce Logiq Partners with Upwork — What’s Going On?

Workforce Logiq recently announced its partnership with Upwork, the largest global, online freelancing platform (in terms of spend, about $2 billion annually). The partnership — which is exclusive — is the first, officially launched, commercial relationship between Upwork and a managed services/solutions provider like Workforce Logiq.

To understand the deal, let’s look at Workforce Logiq’s history and where it’s going. Before we get to an interview with Workforce Logiq CMO David Trachtenberg, it’s important to see how this veteran provider got here.

The company is a well-established, global contingent workforce services and solutions provider, that is, a provider of MSP and other workforce solutions/services (such as contractor sourcing, compliance and payrolling services). With about $3 billion in annual spend under management, Workforce Logiq is also one of just two major MSPs that (a) are “vendor neutral” (i.e., are not a business unit of a larger parent company that has its own, proprietary staffing firm network) and (b) can offer clients a proprietary VMS solution.

Workforce Logiq has been undergoing a transformation in the past year or so. The company has a new senior leadership team put in place under Jim Burke, CEO and industry-outsider, who joined the company in spring 2018. The company also changed its name/branding from ZeroChaos at the start of 2019 to reflect its break from the past and look to the future. In a July 2018 interview with Spend Matters, Burke said: “I think of (Workforce Logiq) as a technology-enabled services business. That means we use our proprietary technology, data and global team of industry expert advisers to deliver a better service on behalf of our clients.” Accordingly, Workforce Logiq has been re-aligning to the market by providing the services and solutions that customers need today, investing in technology infrastructure and working with ecosystem partners to address customer requirements and pursue innovation.

CA Assembly Bill 5 is Law: Is the gig economy doomed? (Part 3)

sharing economy

Last week, with a stroke of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s pen, CA Assembly Bill 5 (AB-5) became law and cast the gig economy into question. Did it doom the gig economy and its contract workers? And what does it mean for businesses?

Technically the law takes effect Jan. 1, but its future, nonetheless, remains uncertain for many reasons. And even if the law does not get watered down or blocked in the courts or overturned by state referendum, the jury is still out on whether AB-5 will deal a death blow to the gig economy or just change it. The signing of AB-5 “into law,” to a significant degree, marks the start of a new phase of debate and uncertainty about the question of whether a worker is an employee (EE) or an independent contractor (IC) and what the future of the “gig economy” — an ambiguous term if ever there was one — will be.

Earlier in this series, we referred to the gig economy as “an ecosystem of businesses and many types of workers” and governed by laws — “that part of the labor market where businesses, including online ‘gig platforms,’ engage workers as non-employees.” We believe this is the broader context in which this law should be analyzed (because, believe it or not, it’s not just “all about” Uber, et al, which represent just one segment of workers classified as ICs. According to our estimates, based in part on Beacon Economics report, “Understanding California’s Dynamex Decision 2018,” ICs make up about 19% of the California employed workforce of about 20 million workers (upwards toward 4 million ICs in the state). And over 90% are in industry segments other than “transportation.”

In Part 3 of this three-part Spend Matters PRO series, we will try to assume the business perspective and provide our thoughts on the newly passed law and the fate of the gig economy as well as point to potential implications for contingent workforce managers, HR and other executives.

CA Assembly Bill 5 passes: Is the gig economy doomed? (Part 2)

workers

Last week, in Part 1 of this Spend Matters PRO series, we covered the controversial California Assembly Bill 5 (AB-5) that changes the definition of who is an employee and who is a contractor — sending shockwaves through the ecosystem of businesses and workers that constitute the so-called gig economy (that part of the labor market where businesses, including online gig platforms like Uber, engage workers as non-employees). Though California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law this week and it is slated to take effect January 2020, the future is still uncertain, and the controversy still rages.

Gig-platform companies providing ride, delivery and other services have been in the cross hairs of the bill, and they have already spent over $15 million attempting to challenge, influence and obtain an exemption from the law. Uber has suggested it will defy AB-5. And Uber, Lyft and DoorDash may fund a statewide referendum to cost upwards of $90 million. Court challenges will also come from many businesses and other organizations that do not support the law.

The fundamental issue at stake is how workers get classified by the state as either an employee (EE) or independent contractor (IC). AB-5 defines just that in very specific terms; and some people (mainly workers) are happy about that, and others (mainly businesses) are not (see Part 1 for more details on the law and its exemptions). Indeed, the stakes can be very high for businesses that rely on ICs (or who they thought were IC). But that’s just one side of the story — new laws and regulations that may cut into profits or even destroy some gig economy business models. There are other perspectives as well, such as workers and government, to name two.

In Part 2 of the series, we examine the competing interests and perspectives around AB-5. In Part 3, we will provide our own thoughts on the bill as well as point to potential implications for contingent workforce managers, HR and other executives.

New name for SolutionMap category: Direct Sourcing of Workforce/Services (DSW/S)

As of Q3 2019, the CW/S SolutionMap category “Independent Contract Workers” will be renamed “Direct Sourcing of Workforce/Services” (DSW/S) to better represent the diversity of solutions that Spend Matters has covered to date and those we will cover in the future.

In addition to the name change, we have broadened the SolutionMap definition, in part, because the solution category has expanded beyond the concept of the original “freelancer management systems” (FMS) to include providers addressing a much broader range of use cases.

Check back in with Spend Matters tomorrow for the Q3 2019 SolutionMap release, which will include the latest rankings of Direct Sourcing of Workforce/Services solution providers.

CA Assembly Bill 5 passes: Is the gig economy doomed? (Part 1)

California Assembly Bill 5 (AB-5), recently passed by the state Senate, changes the definition of who is an employee and who is a contractor. It is expected to be signed by the governor and is slated to go into effect January 2020. The new legislation, which codifies the 2018 state Supreme Court decision in the controversial Dynamex civil litigation case and clarifies its application, is sending shockwaves through the ecosystem of businesses and workers that constitute the so-called gig economy (that part of the labor market where businesses, including online gig platforms like Uber, engage workers as non-employees).

The main issue, one that has become increasingly fraught over the years, is whether a worker should be classified as either an independent contractor (IC) or an employee (EE) of a business, given the conditions and characteristics of the engagement. Anyone who follows this matter knows that determining the classification of a worker is not a simple matter. The presence (or absence) of laws and interpretations at the national, state and even municipal levels and the promulgated regulations of different governmental entities responsible for taxation, unemployment compensation, worker’s compensation insurance, etc. means a worker may be classified differently depending upon the reference point.

In Part 1 of this three-part Spend Matters PRO series, we will cover the background/context of AB-5 and the essential points of the bill. In Part 2, we will examine different perspectives about the law, and Part 3 will provide our own thoughts and examine some potential implications for contingent workforce managers.

VectorVMS: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on VectorVMS and its capabilities that help companies with their contingent workforce programs. The brief includes an overview of VectorVMS and its solution offerings, a summary solution evaluation, a SWOT analysis and, lastly, a selection checklist for companies that might consider the provider.

The Contingent Workforce and Services (CW/S) Insider’s Hot List: September 2019

Welcome to the September 2019 edition of Spend Matters Insider’s Hot List, a monthly look at the contingent workforce and services (CW/S) space that’s available to PLUS and PRO subscribers. For those new to the Hot List, each edition covers the prior month’s important or interesting technology and innovation developments in the CW/S space.

We’ll look at several hot topics: Upwork’s review of disagreements about the size of the freelance economy, changes in worker classification, drone deliveries, a funding round by healthcare jobs marketplace provider Nomad Health, and how freelancers are changing banking and finance.

Shortlist: Vendor Introduction — Analysis, SWOT, Selection Checklist

This Spend Matters PRO research brief provides an introduction to Shortlist, which describes itself as an FMS (freelancer management system) or, alternatively, a software-as-a-service platform for businesses to engage, on-board, manage and pay independent/freelancers. Shortlist was covered in the Spend Matters SolutionMap for software solutions that enable businesses to manage their direct-sourced, independent contract workforce (where it was designated as a Solution Leader, the upper right quadrant for having high scores for capabilities and high customer scores, for all four buyer personas).

FMS solutions began to emerge about eight years ago, when the rise of the gig economy called attention to the lack of solutions designed to enable organizations to engage and manage their independent/freelance workers. Vendor management systems (VMS) solutions did not provide fit-for-purpose solutions; and many companies managed with spreadsheets, other kludged systems or nothing at all. In any case, it became increasingly clear that organizations of all sizes had neither adequate visibility into their independent/freelance workers nor the tools to manage and fully leverage that population of talent.

Over the past eight years, various solutions emerged to attempt to address these requirements. Today they now number on the order of 20 providers, depending on how the category is delimited, based in North America and elsewhere. These solutions have taken a variety of forms, often going beyond the classical definition of FMS[1]. Some arose in tandem with their proprietary, pre-populated online freelancer marketplaces (e.g., Upwork). Some were geared to enable mobile field contractors/gig workers (e.g., FieldNation, WorkMarket). Some, including Shortlist, began supporting small-scale service providers (like boutique creative agencies, small specialized consulting firms) in addition to individual independent/freelance workers.

In this Vendor Introduction, we will zero in on Shortlist and provide an overall understanding of the company and the solution. The brief includes a summary assessment of features and functions, a SWOT analysis as well as a selection checklist for companies that might be considering Shortlist. In this brief, we will abbreviate individual independent/contract/ freelance workers as ICWs and small-scale service providers as SSPs (collectively, we refer to them as “providers”).

Ivalua: Vendor Snapshot (Part 7) — Competitive and Summary Analysis

contingent workforce

So how does Ivalua — previously the Rodney Dangerfield of e-procurement for getting no respect, but now is no laughing matter to its competitors — stack up to the market? In this seven-part PRO overview, Spend Matters has covered Ivalua’s history, internal capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. But to see how it fits into the marketplace, first we have to understand who it is up against. Namely:

* Full Source-to-Pay Suites, including SAP Ariba, Coupa, GEP, Jaggaer, Zycus, Corcentric/Determine, Synertrade, and even Oracle and a few others (e.g,. Wax Digital)
* Full P2P Suites, including Basware, BuyerQuest, Oracle, Vroozi and others
* End-to-End and Best-of-Breed “upstream” Sourcing and Strategic Procurement Technology (SPT) Offerings, including Allocation Network, Bonfire, EC Sourcing, Keelvar, MarketDojo, Scanmarket, * ScoutRFP and more
* e-Invoicing and e-Payment Specialists, including Proactis, Taulia, Tipalti, Transcepta, Tradeshift, Tungsten and others
* Supplier and Master Data Management (MDM) Providers, including Apex Analytix, Aravo, ConnXus, HICX, Procurence, Tealbook and others that don’t slot neatly into the supply management area within SPT.

We'll start by providing a more detailed overview of Ivalua's biggest competitors, namely SAP Ariba, Coupa, GEP and Jaggaer, before covering the rest of the S2P providers that it may encounter in potential deals.