On-Demand Workforce for 2021: Catalant’s Year-End Insights
2020 has been a trying year for business leaders by any standard. A global pandemic required companies to pivot their strategies while forcing leaders to make difficult cost-saving decisions, including sharp reductions to workforces. The shift to remote work and the increased pace of digital transformation are changing how companies think about how to get the right people on the right work to execute their strategies.
At Catalant, we see the market for on-demand talent booming as organizations — under pressure from competitors, new technologies, and a global pandemic — rethink their strategic workforce planning priorities. As we look to 2021 and the future of work, business leaders’ increasing comfort with engaging contingent workers will accelerate trends leading toward a more flexible, adaptable workforce.
Catalant’s Expert Marketplace has been designed to enable this flexibility by providing enterprise leaders with an efficient, scalable way to access the capabilities and expertise they need to execute their most important work. Here are a few insights from our team on how customers have taken advantage of on-demand access to expertise to adapt to new market conditions, how our experts have stepped up to meet their needs, and how we’re seeing the flexible workforce evolve for next year.
How Business Leaders Used On-Demand Workforce in 2020
While Catalant Experts have capabilities across all disciplines, our top project categories this year were Project Management, Corporate Strategy, and Market Research. It’s clear that identifying and understanding shifts in customer preferences, creating strategies to meet those customer needs, and executing mission-critical initiatives to realize those strategies was a top priority for business leaders this year and will continue to be in 2021.
Projects by Category in 2020
Project Management. Catalant’s Expert Marketplace has traditionally been a top source for project management expertise, and 2020 was no different. Even as companies make difficult decisions and become leaner in response to the pandemic, the most important work still must go on. Orchestrating and aligning distributed, remote teams across the enterprise is difficult, and many organizations find it helpful to have impartial, outside expertise to help their teams execute critical work under new operating conditions.
Corporate Strategy & Transformation. With companies transforming not only their operations but their strategic priorities over the course of the year in response to the pandemic, finding specialized expertise to help determine the right course of action has been essential. Business models and operating models have changed dramatically to adapt, and further expertise in creating new strategies and implementing the transformation needed to realize them will be key going forward.
Market Research. Throughout 2020, business leaders needed to identify and understand changes in customer preferences in order to plan their responses to the pandemic. Under uncertainty, they’re more cost-conscious, looking to prudently invest in projects with data-driven business cases to justify investments. And with leaner budgets and ever-evolving conditions, costly large market research firms aren’t right-sized for the task at hand, so they turned to individual experts or boutique firms to get high quality insights, faster and at a lower cost.
Strengthening Our On-Demand Workforce Network
In 2020, highly-skilled professionals continued to gravitate to the Catalant Expert Marketplace — we’re fast approaching 80,000 experts on the platform. In May alone we saw an 88% increase in experts signing up for the platform when compared to the 2019 average.
Experts on the Catalant Platform
A recent Harvard Business Review article reports that freelancers are estimated to make up roughly a third of the U.S. workforce, and that the pandemic will continue to increase the shift toward independent work.
The quality of experts and consulting firms in the Catalant Expert Marketplace continues to impress enterprise customers: independent experts and firms in the Expert Marketplace are winning more projects that would otherwise go to big traditional consulting firms. These projects continue to increase in size: in our most recent quarter, the average project sourced through Catalant is 30% larger than the 2019 average, and corporate strategy projects are 73% larger than a year ago.