A lot of great things have been written recently highlighting the key trends and challenges impacting the Future of Work (more about it here and here). Today, we would like to focus on how technological innovation is rapidly fuelling and supporting freelance consulting and, more importantly, what’s in it for the independent professionals, also known as iPros.

In our opinion, there has never been a better time to be an independent professional. In early 2002, when we started a-connect, terms such as super temps, iPros and freelance consultants were unknown, or at least far from the mainstream. LinkedIn didn’t yet exist, e-lance (today known as UpWork) was still a software start-up and smartphones were still mostly concept designs. Today’s world is very different.

The Uber of professional services

First of all, on-line market places for consulting services are spreading around the globe, connecting iPros with clients. Former consultants and tech-entrepreneurs have acknowledged that there is an opportunity for the taking, in which industry knowledge, together with Big Data and artificial intelligence, could be the recipe to become the next Uber of professional services.

While this offers new options and avenues to iPros around the globe, it also means that they need to take care of their digital persona and on-line branding. The vast majority of on-line market-places rely on algorithms to assess iPros way beyond the traditional resume. The information provided on social networks, their connections and the recommendations given and received may also be taken into account.

New service platforms emerging

In addition to on-line market places, there are also significant investments into making the life of an iPro easier, more productive and cost effective. iPros now have access to processing firepower, data analytics solutions and even artificial intelligence driven platforms which, 5 years ago, were reserved for a few big firms. In addition, there are plenty of mobile apps available now at low cost, covering everything from project management to time sheet reporting, invoicing to collection and even pinpointing which is the best local coffee shop from which to work remotely.

Technology as the enabler – humans at the center

And while technology creates more opportunities and improves the life of an iPro, which is great news in itself, we believe that the technological innovation centered on freelance consulting has a more profound meaning. It shows that iPros have scaled in such a way that they have now become a very relevant and significant professional group. What motivated the creation of a-connect and what has been our mantra for the last 13 years is becoming mainstream. The belief that being independent means “on your own” no longer holds. Last but not least, it strengthens a-connect’s belief that, despite the many new opportunities technology creates, human resourcefulness is still a major driver of competitive advantage and that iPros are a key asset for organizations to better confront the future. Technology is here to help, but iPros are the future of work.

We hope you have enjoyed the reading and please join the conversation by sharing your ideas, insights or questions you might have about it.