Real world examples of the emergence of the sharing economy in the consulting industry.
The sharing economy is a popular trend that is permeating through every industry. Within the consulting industry, the concept hasn’t quite seen the exponential growth that Uber and Lyft have had within the travel industry or Airbnb has had for hospitality needs. There are, however, a few consulting/research companies that are beginning to work within the sharing economy framework, offering clients various custom services.
Sharing Economy Services in the Consulting Field
Wikistrat – This crowdsourced service was founded in 2009 and provides geopolitical business consulting services. Wikistrat experts from all over the world collaborate in order to answer client questions. A gamification manner of approaching questions/problems is often used by company. The firm made headlines in 2014 when their analysts predicted the rise of a Crimean separatist movement which would seek Russian annexation.
Skillbridge – This firm provides a platform for elite freelance consultants to work on short term projects. After a client submits a project, Skillbridge matches the task to the right experts. The client then may interview the prospects in order to choose the candidate to perform the project.
HourlyNerd – Projects can be posted on this freelance marketplace, which can vary from compiling a spreadsheet full of data to creating an investor brochure. Experts from various specialties can bid on selected projects. The client can see the progress of a given project via an online dashboard.
WhalePath – Founded in 2012, this crowdsourced service provides market intelligence information to clients. Clients submit a research project, various experts work on portions of the assignment and then a single final deliverable is provided. The company promotes its services as being “3x’s faster at half the price.”
Wonder – This question-and-answer marketplace start-up provides a way for clients to ask simple or complicated questions in order for an expert researcher to scan the Web and provide a substantive answer within a short time frame. A client merely posts his or her question, with as much detail as possible, and an online freelance researcher spends time to craft a descriptive response, providing a resource list with links to supporting sources.
Forecasting the consulting industry’s response to the sharing economy services
How will the consulting industry respond to the dawn of crowdsourced and transactional consulting and research services? Some consultancy firms are actually embracing the concept and fully integrating the trend into their own business models. One such firm is IDEO, a design and creative consulting firm. They created a crowdsourced platform called OpenIDEO whereby a multitude of people throughout the world can brainstorm to help create products/solutions that solve problems.
Theoretically, consulting firms may actually choose to use the crowdsourced and transactional services, themselves. With busy schedules of top consultants, some of the smaller projects and research tasks could be performed by such services as HourlyNerd and WhalePath. Since a recent report by Intel estimated that 40% of the American workforce will work in a freelance capacity by 2020, the proliferation of more transactional consulting services like Skillbridge may also occur. As the sharing economy continues to develop in the consulting field, the future may bring an interesting array of future service innovations.
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