Freelance talent platforms have been around for more than 20 years in one form or another. Yet despite the obvious potential benefits of direct, digital sourcing, they’ve been mostly unable to reach the mainstream or disrupt traditional staffing models.

Open Assembly aims to change that.

The company, which was conceived in Harvard’s Innovation Science Laboratory in 2018 as an “open talent” interface, says enterprise clients finally recognize that the next frontier of talent is digital and that direct sourcing through talent platforms will become mainstream. As a result, traditional staffing firms need to take note and adapt.

How is Open Assembly so sure? It has the interface, research and data to back its predictions up. The company’s system provides enterprise clients with talent drawn from the global freelance workforce, enabling clients to directly source at scale. Its digital gateway makes it fast, safe and straightforward for enterprise buyers to access any freelancer, regardless of the platform. Not only that, but Open Assembly has also researched — and now tracks — more than 650 freelance talent platforms. It reports 30% cost savings and 40% productivity benefits for its clients, a significant competitive advantage.

Here’s how the company’s interface works: Clients provide their resource requirements digitally, detailing skills, budget, duration, location and a range of other information, all of which define the request. The request is then passed to the freelance talent platforms best matched to meet the requirement. As of early July, the company had 20 platforms signed up and said that more are added weekly.

The selected platforms then respond with the profiles that best meet the client’s requirements. After this step, Open Assembly uses generative AI to filter, refine and create a shortlist for the client. Interviewing, tests, background checking and compliance are all handled through the company’s gateway, making it simple for the client to contract with a freelancer regardless of the platform.

Open Assembly says it has two enterprise clients currently using the gateway at scale and four more in the pipeline this year. It plans to place hundreds of freelance roles in 2023 and thousands next year as the product develops and more enterprises commit. Overall, the company provides a range of services and support including business case and scenario planning, risk management, change management and training.

The Buzz

Enterprises can thrive when they’re able to mobilize a wide range of freelance talent platforms without requiring individual contracts with each one. Open Assembly’s interface dramatically reduces clients’ procurement time and encourages wider use. And its support services ensure adoption is not a one-off but part of an institutional change of talent sourcing behaviour. This combination of direct sourcing and change management support has the potential to transform engrained ways of working and disrupt traditional staffing and sourcing models.