CWS Summit 2023 - Three takeaways from Day 1

3 min | Robert Moffat | Article | | Workforce management

Blue-tinted image of a man giving a conference in front of an audience. He stands between two screens with the text: Uncertainty creates opportunity.

On Monday, 670 procurement, human resources and contingent workforce professionals from 393 organizations joined together in Dallas to share challenges and discuss how a contingent workforce and the programs that manage it can deliver a competitive advantage to their organizations. 

So what were the key themes from day 1? 

In future years, the CWS Summit agenda, and my blogs, may be written by ChatGPT, or its successors, but Artificial Intelligence (AI) was initially notable by its relative absence on day one. Of seventeen sessions only one was focused on AI and that was only focused on the ethics that surround it rather than the technologies and applications. However, as the day progressed, session after session showcased how AI will, in-fact, impact almost every aspect of the workforce.

The rest of the day’s agenda showed a notable move towards the more strategic topics with sessions talking about Workforce Strategies and Transformation - the most numerous on the agenda.

Artificial Intelligence  

In the opening keynote “Tech Disruption and Talent Evolution” by Peter Reagan, AI did take centre stage. 

From an initial scene-setter that the World Economic Forum predicts that AI will create 97 million jobs, to the statement that “30% of jobs can be automated”, the topic moved to the impact on the workforce.  

While using a few live examples, they showed that – perhaps tongue in cheek – “[ChatGPT] isn’t ‘intelligent’, it just looks at data” but it is learning each day and offers significant opportunities and threats to work and the workforce. 

In their recent research, a focus group had identified the Top 5 areas where AI will offer significant opportunity; 91% of respondents identified Screening as an area that can be enhanced by AI, then Matching (again 91%), Redeployment (82%), Sourcing (73%) and Compliance (64%). 

Later in the day, the session on “Exploring the Equitable and Ethical Human Balance in AI” reminded us that although AI is often leveraged to optimize or streamline a process, it can also be used to enhance the experience when deployed well.

SoW/Service Procurement

Many managers engage workers under a Statement of Work (SoW) rather than through the often more visible temporary and contractor route. 

According to the data shared in one session, this SoW population can be 2x to 6x the number engaged as temps and contractors. 

But how unique are the skills of this population offer and how cost-effective is this route? 

The answers to both questions are potentially “not very”.

Research shared in one session showed that 43% of SoW are “misclassified” and could, or should, be engaged as a temp or contractor and this misclassification was resulting on 62% or more in excess cost. 

So how can this be addressed? The panel suggested a three-stage process:

  • Count the cost – understand what you are currently paying.  
  • Build benchmarks – both internal and external to identify the business case. 
  • Change the culture – to build buy in to the program. 

Direct Sourcing (Again) 

For the third (or more) year in a row, Direct Sourcing was a high-profile topic with one session sharing some varied stories from a technology, auto, and banking organization where not everyone was universally pleased with the success of the service or their providers.  

Hiring success rates ranged from low single digits to 42% of hires, but not all programs were meeting their objectives in terms of savings or service levels expected. 

There were two signposts at why some organizations had not generated the benefits they were expecting with one organization hinting at misalignment between their MSP and Direct Sourcing providers. Later in “The Next-Gen Tech Stack” session, it was noted that it’s not just about technology, but “how we apply the technology” that will be one of the differentiators (if and how we get results). 

Yet more confirmation that a successful Direct Sourcing program requires not only the right strategy and plan, but also the right technology, resources, and expertise to optimize it. 

Find out more about the pitfalls of a direct sourcing program.


About this author

Robert Moffat
Global and Americas Head of Solutions, Enterprise Solutions at Hays

As Global and Americas Head of Solutions Robert is part of the global leadership team responsible for innovation and product development. Having lived and worked for Hays in Europe, Asia Pacific and the Americas he has been instrumental in a number of Hays’ global projects including the roll out of a Global Operating Method, Supplier Engagement Strategy, the evolution of our direct sourcing approach and a quick deploy RPO service for start-up and high growth companies.

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