Outsourcing in 2012: Adapting Your Sales and Marketing Work Force to Suit the Macro Environment
Often the success of a commercial idea or business innovation is dependent on its timing, or more specifically its potential to dovetail with any number of prevailing social and economic factors. Consider outsourcing as a particularly relevant example, as it is a concept that has thrived in the last decade against a backdrop of global economic uncertainty and a constantly evolving technological landscape.
Rather than succumb to these factors however it has actually found its ideal niche, to the point where it can now be considered as the working methodology of choice for businesses and employees in the current macro environment. So what can the overwhelming popularity of outsourcing be attributed to, and how will it continue to develop in 2012 and beyond.
Outsourcing and Independent Contracting: The Facts and Figures
Outsourcing is a now a global phenomenon, and one that grown significantly over the course of the last 6 years. 2011 saw a 10% increase in growth for outsourcing services, which is a sharp increase on the 7.1% rise recorded during the 12 months between 2009 and 2010. Within the industry itself, there was a marked increase in the number of sales, marketing and human resource tasks that were outsourced to independent service providers, and their combined total made up 31% of the overall total. The outsourcing of IT jobs remained dominant in these figures however, and accounted for 28% of all work that was assigned to freelance operators.
Of course, outsourcing would not exist but for the efforts of willing and highly skilled contractors, and fortunately the supply of independent workers has increased simultaneously to help fulfil demand. Again the growing popularity of freelancing is prevalent across the globe, and though it is North American contractors that make up more that 50% of the flexible global work force, the method of remote and independent working has never been more popular in the UK, Europe and South America. In fact, the number of UK citizens who offered freelance services rose to more than 1.4 million in 2011, which was the highest volume of independent contractors ever recorded.
The Economic Climate: Why Employers are Favoring On Demand Staffing
Despite the fact that the global recession ended during the summer months of 2010, the subsequent recovery has been painstakingly slow. In fact, although the market leading economies of the U.S. and the UK have offered portents of recovery during the tail end of 2011, the threat of double dip recession continues to threaten any semblance of sustained or tangible growth. This perpetual gloom has forced employers to carefully address their business models and methods of operation, with a view to tightening their financial belts and maximizing revenue.
Outsourcing has emerged as a consequence of this hardship, and afforded organizations the opportunity to save money by creating on demand and project driven workforces. This type of labor is economical for several reasons, and not least because it reduces an employers financial liability and enables them to invest less revenue into insurance, infrastructure and corporeal facilities. It also minimizes the number of long term and permanent contracts that they are engaged in, which affords employers a greater flexibility and control over their expenditure.
Financial factors are not alone in dictating this change in working methodology, and it should be remembered that outsourcing allows them employers to create a far more targeted labor force. This is reflected in the growth areas of outsourcing, with the volume of an organizations IT, sales and marketing tasks often dictated by demand and the requirements of individual projects. With this in mind, outsourcing not only lets an employer maximize the value offered by its work force, but also allows them to hire their representatives from an enhanced and global pool of industry talent.
A Technological Evolution: Affording Collaborative Tools for Employers and Freelancers
Now regardless of the needs or desires of employers, the success of outsourcing is reliant on the application of effective technology. Fortunately, the increasing demand for outsourcing has coincided with the technological boom of the last decade, which has ensured that employers and freelancers can collaborate and communicate as if they were working within the same building. Quite aside from empowering individuals to work independently and shape their own professional careers, this period of technological innovation has also shaped boundaries within which remote working relationships can be conducted and measured efficiently.
This is an important point, as for any contractual relationship to be successful it must rely on both regular communication and a freelancers ability to deliver work according their employers strict guidelines. In terms of the former, the application of mobile technology has had a definitive impact on the prosperity of outsourcing, and made it possible to conduct virtual meetings or detailed communications through a range of different media. This is also critical with regards to the latter, as it allows for a greater understanding between employer and contractor and helps to clearly define detailed working requirements and expectations.
The remote working process is also helped by the concept of the online market place, which began with e-commerce outlets such as Amazon and E Bay at the turn of the century. This notion has evolved with changing demand, with the result that numerous online resources have been established to connect business organizations with freelance service providers. These sites allow any individual with a defined or marketable skill to create their own personal online brand, and collaborate with employers on any number of sales, marketing, technological or general administration tasks.
The Bottom Line: How Will Outsourcing Grow in 2012 and Beyond?
Given that the growth of outsourcing is out performing the vast majority of other thriving industries, it stands to reason that the demand for independent contractors is beginning to infiltrate additional market niches. As an example, an increasing number of organizations have sought the services of freelance data entry clerks and virtual assistants during 2011, so that even the most basic of office support tasks can now be outsourced to reliable and experienced individuals. This will only drive the industry forward in 2012 and beyond, and afford the numerous benefits of outsourcing to an increasing range of businesses and independent contractors.