Did you know that technology consultants comprise one-third of the nation’s skilled independent workforce? Here’s why their opportunities will grow in the next three years.
Are you aware that 57 million Americans freelanced professionally in 2019 alone? Furthermore, Freelancing in America (FIA) annual report shows that income from professional, scientific, technical, and informational services accounts for over ten percent of the nation’s GDP.
According to the recent Independent workforce study by Fiverr and Rockbridge Associates, the top 25 U.S. markets are home to over one million technology consultants. And the vast majority of technical workers reside in the Western United States (e.g., California, Arizona, Washington, and Colorado).
Current employment data from these reports portray a bright future for technology consultants in major metropolitan regions. Today, we have many reasons why they experience success, but three, in particular, reveal why they will thrive over the next three years.
Business Strategy Calls For More Technology Consultants
The extended workforce is more significant than Millennials and Gen Z. And the demand for external technology professionals is expected to increase rapidly over the next three years.
According to SAP’s latest report, 44% of the current annual workforce spend is on external workers (non-full-time employees), while 65% of respondents claimed they couldn’t meet market demand without consultants. Furthermore, all survey participants recorded an increased dependency on external talent sources such as talent management agencies, and plan to grow these partnerships over the next three years.
The stereotype that consulting is the ‘plan B’ (secondary to the traditional full-time job) isn’t accurate. During the best economies (similar to the current environment in the U.S.), the average growth rate for skilled independent workers in the top 25 markets outpaced national averages. Similarly, revenues in these markets increased faster than the number of professionals entering the secondary workforce, revealing the need for even more consultants in the next few years.
When it comes to workforce trends and predictions, what shapes the business strategy for the technology industry? Similar to other large enterprises, companies that use their resources most effectively serve as a role model for everyone else. And according to SAP’s external workforce insights, of the successful businesses that leverage external professionals the most, 79% claim that consultants are key drivers for performance. As more companies join this group, others follow close behind.
Technology Consultants Become Part of the Talent Management Strategy
Based on your understanding of human resources, how would you define talent management? Although it sounds complicated, the premise is overwhelmingly simple: to strategically build and maintain a workforce based on organizational goals. However, the successful long-term construction of a workforce requires specific ongoing activities: attracting, on-boarding, retaining, and developing talent.
Unlike full-time workers, technology consultants can’t speak to the effectiveness of these internal processes; they haven’t received this high level of attention from employers. Expect the next three years to be very different and more inclusive.
Today’s top-performing companies recognize that success hinges on their people, all of them, including technology consultants. Summarized in the SAP Fieldglass report on workforce trends, leading organizations focus on the total workforce strategy, which accounts for payroll staff and external professionals. Due to intense market competition, companies of all sizes must adopt the same approach if they wish to perform. Such a change presents an immense opportunity for external workers to receive increased exposure to internal teams and from leadership.
There’s more good news on the horizon for technology consultants. Remember the previously mentioned data showing that all surveyed organizations plan to increase their use of talent service providers in the next three years? Well, such partnerships provide the external workforce with the opportunity to maintain their project-based career using talent managers.
Isn’t that what we do here at The Carrera Agency? Indeed it is. And transformation is already underway to help our consultants experience a breakthrough year. The near future looks positive for the external workforce, as their positions are documented in the long-term strategy of leading organizations. The move from transactional workers to core providers of essential skills is underway.
Business’ Ramp Up Search for Critical Skills and Capabilities
Cisco’s “Connected Futures” report made a clear statement in their latest release: business leaders see IT departments as the number one driving force behind business transformation. The survey also concluded that nearly 93% of IT executives have a talent gap hindering the completion of transformation projects. A play on the adage, it’s safe to say that one man’s problem is another man’s opportunity. With the continuous increase of transformation projects among IT teams, technology consultants have reason to be excited about their newfound value to the organization.
Today’s IT leaders have a shared agenda that reflects three crucial responsibilities: modernizing IT infrastructure, transforming business operations, and transforming IT operations. And although the search for critical technology skills continues across all major industries, identifying talent with equally strong business acumen is vital to the performance of a business.
The contingent workforce is in the crosshairs of the industry’s most influential decision-makers — CIOs, CSOs, CTOs, etc. Good leaders view consultants as essential players in the daily operations, especially since executives seek to know the who, what, and where of their entire workforce.
More and more company leaders believe that culture and connection among their internal workforce are positively impacted by their external workforce. And current analysis links total talent engagement (not just for full-time employees) to better financial performance company-wide. For consultants, a tighter connection to the business’s bottom line can only mean one thing: better visibility to be seen and recognized for their work.
64% of freelancers (who agree they are part of a changing workforce) believe that an increasing number of top performers choose to work independently in their field, according to the FIA annual study. As you can see from the data we’ve highlighted above, consultants and business leaders are on converging courses. We predict the impact will introduce a new era of energy, opportunity, and most importantly, demand for external professionals and service providers.
In the eyes of today’s IT leaders, the technology consultant is a key enabler of business performance, which is why many organizations plan to increase their extended workforce over the next three years. Especially during a time of low unemployment and rapid business growth, more opportunity exists for all skilled professionals, not only traditional full-time employees.
New surveys show that leaders who actively manage their external labor have a clear goal of improving financial performance and executing transformation initiatives that require their expertise. This change means more opportunities and greater visibility for consultants regardless of the contract duration.
In the coming years, expect technology consultants to be at the core of business objectives, from strategy to culture. It’s time you join a talent management agency that puts your consulting career front and center. If you agree, work with our team to line up your next project.
(Main image by Tom Parkes)