GAFA brings boundaryless access to talent

A useful way to look at the environment in which financial services is being disrupted is called GAFA. 

As I explained in the first post in this series, this is a catch-all term that refers to “digital native” companies including Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple (the original GAFA quartet) as well as Tencent, WeChat, Alibaba, Uber, Airbnb, Samsung … platform companies which have infiltrated their customers’ lives by providing services and information at their fingertips. 

This GAFA world presents an interesting and profound opportunity for HR departments. We all know how LinkedIn (another GAFA platform) changed the world for executive search. GAFA offers an even more radical shift for HR’s approach to employment. 

1. Freelancers 

If you don’t have the people, you can’t do the work. That’s what a whopping 40% of companies found. They were short of skills, and that hampered their ability to adapt and innovate. One solution is using freelancers: you only pay for the work you ask for, and you can scale quickly. It’s so attractive that nearly 80% of FS organizations see freelancers as a seamless part of ther workforce in the next three years. 

2. Digital marketplaces 

Financial services providers have a whole new class of competitor for the talent they need: small businesses and entrepreneurial companies. Just like LinkedIn transformed executive search, routine recruitment is being transformed by digital platforms such as Fiverr and Upwork. Fiverr even bills itself as the marketplace for the “lean entrepreneur.” It makes sense that FS companies draw on the same talent pool as their competitors. 

3. New-skilling 

The idea of “one job for life” has been old-fashioned for decades. What we are finding is that “one career for life” is also becoming obsolete – even if the worker never changes employers. It is becoming urgent that HR anticipates new skills and roles that will equip the business in three to five years, and gives current employees a roadmap to re-skill themselves accordingly. Data science, AI, the customer experience – all these are careers that existing workers can start moving into, provided they have the right support from HR. 

One radical shift for HR organisations is the need to keep gig-workers engaged between gigs. The cost of acquiring talent is all up-front. Once you’ve found a freelancer who understands the culture and works well with your internal teams, it makes financial and human sense to tailor an employee experience for that person. This is a shift for HR, because it has an opportunity to re-write the social contract, and to build an employee experience for people who aren’t strictly employees. 

We’ve become used to the gig economy disrupting the taxi industry, or graphic design, or the courier business; as an industry, we are just getting to grips with how this new GAFA-enabled world can accelerate our ability to respond to disruption. 

If you’re interested in how disruption will affect the people in your organisation, I recommend you download our Future of Work report. It makes for fascinating reading. 

And you can learn more about how to manage disruption at a strategic level by downloading our summary of our Strategy Director’s book The Wise Pivot. Or, contact me to discuss how Accenture’s international research can help you understand and prepare for the coming disruption.