For half a century now, the value sought by customers of an ESN, a digital services company (formerly SSII), has been to access a pool of competent and available resources at all times. Until now, this offer has been based on the ability of NSEs to recruit good profiles very quickly and to unboard them with the end customer just as quickly. But this offer of value seems to be cracking as the reactor’s core runs out of steam: the acquisition of talent.
At the same time, the rise of independent platforms is now democratizing new models among companies looking for ever more expertise and responsiveness, but above all installing new environments conducive to emancipation. freelancers.
Is this transformation of the talent market a ticking time bomb for NSEs? Or are new models to be invented?
The war of talent
It skills needs are exploding. According to Eric Hazan, director of McKinsey Digital in France, the need for tech skills is expected to increase by 90% by 2030. However, the availability of skilled resources is not rising as fast as demand and the shortage is accelerating. The talent war is now well underway. In a context where 85% of NSEs are struggling to recruit and retain their workforce (source: Syntec Digital), it is becoming increasingly difficult for these historical players to serve their clients properly (recruitment deadlines, staffing time, available profiles). Is the balance on which the ESN model was based until then about to tip over?
Talent in search of a new framework
46% of Millennials say they are not attracted to the traditional wage format, and more than 87% of this generation are calling for more flexibility at work. This is evidenced by the increase in the number of freelancers on the market today (up 145% in the last 10 years according to Eurostat). The most talented profiles positioned on coveted expertise understood that they would benefit from a better “deal” by leaving the ranks of their ESN or their consulting firm to fly on their own wings: choose their own clients, define the contours of their missions, set their rates, arrange their schedule or work wherever they want.
The rise of platforms
Despite this tension in the tech skills market, the reservoir of independent platforms continues to fill up every day as talent jumps out of independence or leaves their NSEs. As a result, some freelance platforms are now full of ever-increasing numbers of qualified and available talent. This is the case of crème de la crème, a platform specializing in the tech trades and the needs of corporates, which has chosen a strong selection at the entrance of its community. Only 10% of freelancers are accepted into the community each month.
Freelance platforms like crème de la crème can now meet the needs of large companies in a matter of days, with hyper-responsiveness enabled by their technological model and their volume of experts available. They add to this the most complete transparency on the quality of the profiles they make available and the actual costs of the services.
Finally, they differ mainly from traditional structures in the way they view the freelance population. Rather than treating them as “suppliers” or “subcontractors,” they see freelancers as entrepreneurs in their own right for whom they create and animate environments conducive to their success.
In the cream community, freelancers benefit from support, offers of services with exclusive benefits that improve their daily lives, but also events where members meet to exchange with each other.
A necessary adaptation of ESNs to new market expectations, combining the essential model of platforms?
The emergence of platforms that develop more transparent and faster models, combined with the difficulties that NSEs are currently experiencing in recruiting due to a model that is losing attractiveness, could form a time bomb on a part of the market in profound transformation.
Nevertheless, in the face of the explosion of IT needs today, the ESN model seems rather to reinvent, combining the forces present in the market. Indeed, some ESNs excel on the know-how of orchestrating complex IT projects as well as on a strong capacity for technological consulting, while developing a hyper-specialization of their own. In a market where the platform model attracts more and more talent and gains ground on the side of the large companies most consuming expertise, a new balance could emerge from an association between the most efficient platforms and the know-how of historical actors.
NSEs that reposition themselves on their high value-added expertise and will seize the opportunities offered by this model association scheme could then survive the turbulence of a high-stress market, but could also offer a new model of operational excellence to their clients in search of greater efficiency and responsiveness.
If a silent revolution is well under way, it seems that we are only at the beginning of the next changes in the intellectual services market, especially in the digital skills sector. The plurality of new players in attendance portends new scenarios in which the strengths and weaknesses of the different models could give rise to new complementary schemes, which would ultimately benefit companies seeking more expertise, speed and transparency, but also to independent communities looking for innovative projects with high added value.