As technology is reshaping our world, the tension between the roles of human work and automation has become more and more apparent. The effect of the perennial “cheaper, faster, better” client priorities is compounded by market dynamics such as increasing competition, budget pressures, technology disruption, and disintermediation. The insights industry, like most service-based sectors, is still trying to find balance between “man and machine”.
However, even as research technology solutions grew in use and share of wallet, a strange thing happened: clients were not equipped to make full use of these solutions because they often needed some level of service during the project: study design specialists, programmers, project managers, moderators, translators, coders, tabbers, designers, report writers, strategy consultants, analysts, etc.
This created a challenge: tech companies are usually NOT built to deliver consultative service: it’s not part of their DNA nor of their model. Tech companies are managed in a radically different way than service businesses. Tech is all about low variable costs and scalable growth. Service is inherently about high variable costs and is difficult to scale. They really don’t sit well together under one roof.
Every tech company in the insights industry has been forced to deal with this issue. Some have bitten the bullet and built a service capability out of sheer necessity. Some have tried to build affiliate programs or partner networks which has worked fairly well but still required a lot of hand holding. None of those solutions have created a solution that acts as a bridge between tech platforms and professional services organizations or individual experts.
Leveraging a proven marketplace model, a deep understanding of the needs of clients, suppliers, and technology companies in our industry, and using input from key stakeholders, GreenBook has been working on a “gig economy”-inspired solution for the past 18 months. We’re now launching the Savio platform in beta.
In simplest terms, Savio is a talent marketplace where buyers and suppliers connect, transact projects, and communicate all within one platform. Unilever has already called Savio the “Fantasy Football League” of market research services. We believe it is a solution that meets the unique needs of our industry.
Not familiar with the “gig economy”? Whatis has a good overview:
A gig economy is an environment in which organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements.
A study by Intuit predicted that by 2020, 40 percent of American workers would be independent contractors. In this digital age, the workforce is increasingly mobile and work can increasingly be done from anywhere, so that job and location are decoupled. Freelancers can select among temporary jobs and projects around the world, while employers can select the best individuals for specific projects from a larger pool than that available in any given area.
In a gig economy, businesses save resources but also have the ability to contract with experts for specific projects who might be too high-priced to maintain on staff. Ideally, the model is powered by independent workers selecting jobs that they’re interested in, rather than one in which people are forced into a position where, unable to attain employment, they pick up whatever temporary gigs they can land.
This model has been growing steadily in recent years. FastCompany writes:
As a recent PwC report asserts, “Economic shifts are redistributing power, wealth, competition, and opportunity around the globe,” and “the expectations of organizations and the aspirations of the people who want to work for them [are] diverging into three distinct ‘worlds’ of work”:
- The world of corporate capitalism
- The world of social responsibility
- The world of smaller, collaborative networks and specialization
It’s interesting that PwC was cited; they drank their own Kool-Aid and restructured their own business by shifting a big chunk of workforce into a marketplace called the Talent Exchange:
We paid close attention to what PwC and other marketplaces did to ensure Savio could build off of their good work while being purpose-built for the insights industry.
Savio was built to function as an extension to online research tools that don’t offer a service component so users of these tools can get help with anything they need: design, moderation, data analysis, consulting, and virtually any other aspect of the insights process. It’s also a stand-alone application, so anyone can access it whether they are using an online research tool or not.
The system is set up for ratings & reviews (for sellers and buyers), with communication and project management tools, and payment processing. We have begun the process of having Savio approved by a number of major brands as part of their procurement systems, with the goal of eliminating the need for individual experts and supplier organizations in the marketplace to undergo the painful approval process themselves.
Savio is NOT an RFP engine, a directory, or pay-to-play lead-gen network. There is no cost to register in Savio and, like all true marketplaces, Savio pays for itself via a transaction fee.
While it’s obvious that it will take some time for Savio get fully going, we’re ramping up now – inviting the industry to participate in the beta launch in three ways:
- Be a seller: Create a profile and be part of the talent pool available for buyers to choose from. Access new business opportunities by helping research buyers with their projects in your area of expertise (questionnaire design, field management, moderation, analysis, strategy, and many more). Work flexible hours to match your lifestyle or other needs.
- Be a buyer: Use Savio to find contractors to work on your projects: short- or long-term, ad hoc or ongoing. Savio gives you scale to flex up or down with the right talent to meet your needs. Explore the marketplace to find experienced research pros ready to work on your project and deliver the service you need.
- Be a partner: Integrate Savio into your online research technology and let the marketplace deliver the service you don’t provide but your users are looking for. The robust API is fully documented, making integration a matter of hours, not weeks. Use Savio to offer service so you can focus on software. By integrating with Savio, you will increase customer satisfaction and make your application more “sticky”.
The Savio team is currently working with 30 online research platforms, exploring and implementing integrations. These online research partners will be announced as they become ready to connect their users with Savio. We’re still in the very beginning, but our beta partners already take advantage of a unique opportunity to help enhance their offering.
Equally important, we are are also working closely with 20 brands to onboard their teams with Savio over the next few months.
Savio features include:
- Multiple Profiles: You can have both an individual and a company profile.
- Flexible Payments: Prefer to work off a retainer? Would you rather be paid by milestones? Or just invoice your client once the project is completed?
- Teams & Permissions: Whether you are a buyer or a seller, you can manage multiple people within your team.
- Sometimes you’re a vendor, and sometimes a client: Being an expert doesn’t mean you can’t post a project yourself.
- Build Reputation: Get good reviews, and buyers will send you more work.
- Project Room: Real-time chat built right in. Share documents. Review and sign off on project milestones.
A marketplace has benefits to anyone who functions as a freelancer or individual consultant today, and the positive implications for online research tools and their users are clear as well. But what about agencies? After meeting with many agency leaders, we think it will be a boon for them as well.
Savio will enable any agency to scale globally by contracting talent on demand. Agencies can participate in the talent pool themselves by placing their teams into the marketplace as consultants, with the agency remaining the billing agent. Long term, it’ll be even possible for agencies to train and certify others on their proprietary techniques, expanding their business through a network of partners.
As with any marketplace, Savio may be disruptive for some, yes; but it’s “incrementally disruptive”. Other marketplaces are targeting our sector without the understanding and the deep relationships necessary to design a solution that limits the disruption and rather builds upon the way the industry operates in a new, positive way.
As Unilever also told us, “It’s the right solution at the right time.” We hope you’ll join us in making that true!