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AI Is Changing How Talent Requests Are Assigned and Fulfilled

Hiring is hard. Hiring at scale is even harder. That’s where hiring technology comes in. Our all-in-one hiring platform simplifies how companies manage their contingent hiring programs. In this[...]

February 25, 2020

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Procurement: Tapping Into the Power of the Crowd

I’m extremely honored and excited to be speaking at ProcureCon’s Contingent Workforce 2016 Total Talent Management event, which runs from July 11 to July 13. I’ll be uniting with other industry experts to help procurement leaders transform their organizations through bold, disruptive workforce innovations. Procurement professionals today are facing a dynamic array of market and employment shifts. Growing uncertainty in business performance and increased labor risks have spurred a resurrection of traditional demands, such as the renewed focus on cost containment. Yet, organizations also need procurement to evolve into a strategic business adviser capable of bolstering spend influence, driving agility and capitalizing on suppliers with fresh, unconventional recruitment approaches. In my talk, I’ll be demonstrating how we can assist procurement in reaching these goals through the power of crowd-based hiring.

The Vital and Emerging Role of Procurement in Business Strategy

Annual research performed by The Hackett Group illustrates how world-class organizations are turning to procurement as a way of differentiating themselves in a sea of fierce competition. The consultancy’s latest findings also reveal the challenges procurement faces in a delicate balancing act of reducing costs while becoming strategic business partners.

As The Hackett Group Global Procurement Advisory Practice Leader Chris Sawchuk explains, “For 2016, companies are expecting to see business uncertainty and risk increase, along with greater struggles to grow revenue. So the pressure to reduce costs is increasing. At the same time, procurement leaders need to balance this with other more strategic priorities, like becoming a better strategic business partner. This is challenging, because for 2016, procurement operating budgets are expected to increase by just 1.1 percent, and staffing will only grow by 2.2 percent.”

Procurement is essentially being tasked to accomplish more with less. Here are the priorities, based on The Hackett Group’s research.

  • Become a trusted adviser, not just a gatekeeper. Corporate leaders want procurement to use its insight and data to proactively understand the key factors that shape business requirements, not simply facilitate the buying process. This would enable companies to reverse-engineer costs and explore less expensive, higher-quality alternatives.
  • Drive supplier innovation. Savvy procurement professionals are adept at building strong supplier relationships. Organizations want them to expand on this prowess by collaborating with suppliers on reducing costs while developing customized and unique breakthroughs in their offerings.
  • Protect against risk. The ongoing changes in labor regulations, coupled with the legal ambiguities arising from the gig economy, are compelling procurement to concentrate on risk mitigation and compliance.
  • Agile staffing. Procurement professionals are seeing a need to find suppliers with creative and non-traditional recruitment models that will open the door to new sources of skills and fresh thinking.

Procurement leaders are confronting many daunting feats. And I believe the solution lies in a unique recruitment approach that taps in the intelligence and power of the crowd.

The Crowd Is Already Hard at Work

Entrepreneurs, scientists and researchers increasingly rely on the power of crowds to solve complex problems. We crowdfund endeavors through sources such as Kabbage, LendingClub and Dealstruck. Charitable causes seek financial backing by appealing to the altruism of investors in the crowd through sites like GoFundMe. Right now, we’re even crowdsourcing cures for diseases. The reality, however, is that we’re just scratching the surface of what crowd-centric solutions can offer society, particularly as the sharing economy grows. We believe the same principles can be applied to innovate an entirely new approach to staffing.

We’ve been capitalizing on the wisdom of the crowd throughout history -- we just never gave it a name until recently. Consider some examples of how we achieve goals and pioneer advances through the crowd.

  • Linux is essentially a crowdsourced operating system. It was assembled in 1991 under the model of free and open-source software development and distribution. It’s been ported to more computer hardware platforms than any other operating system. In fact, it’s probably running your smartphone, DVR, video game console, network router, smartwatch or mainframe server.
  • In 2005, the world saw its first crowdsourced documentary, “The American Revolution.” The film examined the role of media in cultural, social and political changes between 1968 and 1974. It focused on an underground radio station in Boston. To generate content, the filmmakers asked the public for archival contributions.
  • BlueServo is a free website that crowdsources security surveillance of the U.S. border between Texas and Mexico.
  • CitySourced provides a mobile app that allows citizens to identify and report non-emergency civic issues. Similarly, Waze is a GPS mapping application that peer reports traffic conditions live through the feedback of other motorists.
  • Perhaps the most stunning recent example comes from a game called Foldit. For more than a decade, an international group of scientists struggled to crack the molecular structure of a protein-cutting enzyme from an AIDS-like virus. They eventually designed a game that allowed players to manipulate molecular structures in a virtual environment. The sets appeared similar to colorful Tinkertoy pieces. The crowd solves the puzzle in less than 10 days.

While there are countless definitions of the crowd, James Surowiecki’s 2004 bestseller “The Wisdom of Crowds” offers the most compelling: diverse collections of independently deciding individuals. Basically, it’s the idea that the collective wisdom of a large group yields statistically superior results than the expertise of an individual. And this concept is creeping into a lot of areas outside the realm of computers, medicine, science and business solutions. It’s making its way into the staffing space. Some industry analysts refer to crowd-based talent solutions as the Human Cloud.

The Advent of Crowdstaffing

There exists untapped potential in the same crowds for procurement professionals in need of fresh labor sources, regardless of skill sets, categories, jobs or industries. We believe there are vast marketplaces of talent waiting to be courted and engaged through these unconventional channels.

Through a broad array of social media -- such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram -- creative recruiters are building global benches of passive and active candidates by interacting with people to discover their job skills and career goals. Social networks allow staffing curators to post relevant positions that become available, with a captive audience of prospects who are ready to respond.

So why not broaden these concepts, bolstered by the limitless availability of the crowd, as a way to tackle fundamental problems with crowdsourcing: the lack of visibility? Through a “people in the cloud” outsourcing model, we have at our disposal an effective means for seizing labor arbitrage opportunities without incurring the same infrastructure costs as traditional outsourcing initiatives.

Until recently, the idea of using the crowd as a staffing model has been limited to theories or exclusive reliance on social media recruiting campaigns. Even the young technology tools serve merely to facilitate a process. They don’t, however, support the full servicing and management of the talent. In short, they don’t provide a source of crowd control. A Crowdstaffing model is curated by a staffing firm; it delivers all the benefits of crowdsourcing strategies while imposing controls that assure compliance, giving procurement leaders the comfort to realize the advantages of crowd-based solutions.

How Does Crowdstaffing Work?

Crowdstaffing encompasses two different crowds -- a global network of independent recruitment teams and the talent they source through the marketplace. Crowdstaffing’s progressive Total Talent Acquisition model operates on three integrated fronts: automated hiring technology, an expansive and diverse network of independent Recruiter Partners, and dedicated account management teams who curate the process for incomparable service, quality and compliance.


The Crowdstaffing recruitment model is powered by automation. Refined algorithms, bolstered by machine learning, match requirements to approved Recruiter Partners based on several elements, including job title, job category, industry, location, skills, and more. The platform allows us to filter job orders intelligently to qualified Recruiter Partners who represent the best fits for filling the requirements. This process expedites sourcing efforts at virtually unrivaled speeds -- with proven results for both mainstream and niche positions.

Speed is essential to procurement. The old adage is true: time is money. By way of example, let’s assume a position in your organization has a positive revenue impact of $300 per day. If that position goes unfilled for 30 days, you’ve already sacrificed $9,000.

Independent Recruiters

Crowdstaffing Recruiting Partners are the power behind the model. They hail from a variety of backgrounds, skills, job category specialties and industries. These teams parallel source as requisitions are received, ensuring the highest volume of qualified candidates at unprecedented speeds. Recruiter Partners tap into a wide spectrum of innovative sourcing strategies. Rather than hosting a limited network of internal recruiters, Crowdstaffing provides an entrepreneurial approach to independent professionals.

  • Recruiters earn the lion’s share of profits for each and every placement -- 33 percent to 50 percent. No base salaries, no bonus plans.
  • Recruiters are intrinsically motivated to deliver top talent quickly. They’re paid on performance, realize unlimited earning potential. Many earn six-figure incomes.
  • Because recruiters are not employees and reap the rewards of profit-sharing rather than salaries, Crowdstaffing operates leaner than traditional staffing firms to contain costs.


Perhaps the most significant differentiator in the process comes from expert curation. When candidates are submitted by Crowdstaffing Recruiting Partners, our account management teams review the information, screen the submittals and shortlist the talent with the highest matches to procurement’s needs, business culture and goals. More importantly, the account management team serves as procurement’s single point-of-contact, further enhancing the effectiveness, simplicity and ease of communications in the relationship. The result is a high-touch, curated experience that online recruiting can’t offer. And in the evolution toward crowd-based HR solutions, this is truly the missing link.

Crowdstaffing: Procurement’s Next Generation Business Partner

Procurement leaders have steep hills to climb. Today the “divide and conquer” philosophy has become more pronounced with the ongoing rise of the sharing economy and crowdsourcing. Procurement professionals know that people are truly the most valuable assets of their business, and they can’t afford to let talent acquisition processes linger in the past. Through the crowd, you can reach a new frontier of talent acquisition and performance.

Crowdstaffing is not merely a staffing solution, it’s a total talent acquisition model for any type of hire: temps, contractors and permanent professionals. If you’re attending ProcureCon’s Total Talent Management conference in Atlanta, please join me for a unique opportunity to explore the inner workings of a fresh and unprecedented approach to hiring – one that’s fueling the innovations of enterprises like SpaceX, Google, Walmart eCommerce, Experian and Illumina.

My session will take place on July 11 at 10:40 a.m., followed by an interactive roundtable at 4:00 p.m. You can also catch me at the panel discussion "Breaking Down Total Workforce Management" at 12:10 p.m. on July 12. I would love to see you there.

Sunil Bagai
Sunil Bagai
Sunil is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, thought leader and influencer who is transforming the way companies think about and acquire talent. Blending vision, technology and business skills honed in the most innovative corporate environments, he has launched a new model for recruitment called Crowdstaffing which is being tapped successfully top global brands. Sunil is passionate about building a company that provides value to the complete staffing ecosystem including clients, candidates and recruiters.
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