By Ant Cousins, Director of Customer Success at ProFinda.
Marketplaces continue to fundamentally change the way we buy products and services in our daily lives. From the disruption of the high-street retailers by online giants such as eBay and Amazon to Uber and Airbnb changing the way we book taxis and hotels, the concept of matching consumers directly to suppliers, and allowing anyone to be a supplier, has proven about as powerful a disruptive force in business since the internet began.
Now, this marketplace concept is looking to change the way we all work. As individuals increasingly prefer to choose when and how they work in the so-called ‘gig economy’, and millennials demand greater flexibility and choice in their own careers, online skills marketplaces are matching people to work in a more agile and meritocratic way. However, implementing a skills marketplace to create a more agile workforce requires a little more than tech. So here are five top tips on how to get there:
Focus on connecting your people, not storing knowledge
Marketplaces are about cutting out middlemen and streamlining supply to demand for time and cost savings. In a survey we conducted with over 4,000 professionals in the b2b sector we found the average employee wastes nearly two hours every time they look for information and help via the intranet. The same survey revealed connecting people to people in a marketplace to share knowledge took that two hours down to five minutes, reclaiming almost a month a year in lost productivity.
Make skills relevant to your business’ success
Successful marketplaces effectively match needs to supply based on relevance. In the case of Uber, geography is the key ingredient of relevance. The success of the service is based on its ability to find you the nearest cab. In business the critical factors for relevance are the mixture of hard and soft skills, experience and connections needed to get the job done. So to establish a successful marketplace inside a business, you need to capture and enable your staff to search that information.
Make best use of all your data
Getting employees to fill out skills profiles can be like pulling teeth. But Artificial Intelligence and machine learning can now ‘infer’ employee skills and knowledge from their use of other systems automatically. It might seem like big brother but it’s the same technology we’ve been using for years in our personal lives to get recommendations for films to watch and food to buy. All you need to do is join the dots between your existing systems to make use of this goldmine of employee data.
Ask better questions
Marketplaces like Uber work well because the requests are simple; I’m here and I need to go there. But in business we sometimes don’t know what we are looking for or what question to ask. Google understands this problem because it has related searches’ and Amazon has the ‘Customers also bought’ feature. In a similar way, Artificial Intelligence can compare your internal search for help and resource with other previous requests across the business to help you regardless of the query.
Be a champion for change
We have the technology to be quicker, more agile companies but waiting for all the answers to be worked out is no longer a competitive option. Strong leadership will be required to sort the valid concerns from the corporate change inertia but the benefits are there for those that can.