The Research Platform

Online Labor Platforms

Online "work intermediation platforms," like Elance, oDesk, and others, are revolutionizing how work can be arranged and performed. And interest in this area among entrepreneurs, investors, and staffing firms has been intensifying. 


Like Amazon with retail and Airbnb with lodging, online e-platforms are beginning to have a significant impact in the world of work.  As noted in Andrew Karpie’s 2012 article in Staffing Industry Review:

Human cloud” platforms of various kinds have been proliferating and growing at phenomenal rates.  Even just one sub-segment, “Online Staffing” platforms, consisted of 50 young firms and $1B contractor/freelancer in billings in 2012 (projected to be at least $2B in 2014).  Innovation and evolutionary “variety” is also a hallmark of this new emerging industry segment.


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E-platforms are not only altering the established talent supply chain; they are also radically transforming the forms and nature of contingent work engagements into something approaching “Talent as a Service” (TaaS) or “talent on-demand utilities.” Furthermore, by supporting social dynamics and communications, e-platforms are also making possible entirely new forms of contingent work (e.g., crowdsourcing, or collaborative problem-solving by virtually connected talent and expertise, incented by the possibility of contingent rewards that are much higher than average salary or wage compensation).