An Agile Workforce Is The Future

May 20, 2020 Susan Marshall

Marketing leaders across industries and geographies are feeling the pressure to answer tough questions about the future of work, like: How do we attract and develop the new talent we need? How do we scale and accelerate the pace of change? How can we ensure that the people with us now don’t get left behind? And how do we make the right investment in our people to prepare them for the future? An agile, modern workforce depends on a people-first strategy that embraces tech. Leaders need to play a driving role in supporting the development of an agile workforce if they want to survive the digital transformation. The businesses of Silicon Valley and other tech hubs have become leading examples of why an agile mindset works, hitting home the importance of implementing methods that get things out the door for testing quickly (like rapid prototyping or the sprints we do here at Torchlite). Rapid innovation is key — there’s always time to hammer out the minor details after you can prove that a concept is valuable. BMO’s chief transformation officer, Lynn Roger, put it best: “Speed is the new business currency.” Adopting an agile talent strategy allows you to: Bridge the gap between current employees and the skills they’re missing An agile workforce looks “more like highly orchestrated networks and ecosystems with a multitude of approaches to mobilizing, orchestrating, and engaging talent, skills, leaders, and ideas,” according to Deloitte. This business model is especially attractive to companies with talent gaps. No one employee can know it all, which is why more and more businesses are turning to freelancers to supplement their teams. The role that a freelancer plays on a team varies based on the needs of your company. Some on-demand experts augment teams on a single project basis, while others enter into months- or even years-long working relationships. Freelance talent is also used to manage variable demand for companies like agencies whose workloads vary based on client needs. These experts also work in both extended, long-term projects as well as one-off project roles. According to Accenture, “up to 40% of companies experience talent shortages impacting the ability to adapt and innovate.” Understanding that your potential talent’s experience comes from a variety of locations — taking breaks to pursue further education, building a side hustle as a stay at home parent, interning, traveling — and not just traditional corporate jobs, is key to building a diverse and effective workforce. Drive collaborative innovation New perspectives are refreshing. When your team recruits help from the outside (via freelancers, consultants, or any number of other methods), you’re opening the doors to potentially game-changing ideas. When you’ve been neck-deep in a problem for a long time, you start to lose perspective. A fresh set of eyes can unveil solutions you’d never come up with yourself. These “outsiders” can also be pivotal to driving innovation. They force you to answer the question “why?” — and that’s never a bad thing. When they ask questions, they’re trying to get to the root of the problem so they can help develop new solutions to test. This experimentation is the key to actually getting things done instead of just discussing them. These on-demand workers allow you to test ideas on the fringes and fail fast. Focus on what you’re best at while building a happier workforce The benefits of working with freelancers can be obvious — like the fact that you’re checking tasks off of your marketing to-do list. Equipping your team with the right tools, including access to on-demand experts, allows them to focus on their goals and get more done. Freelancers act as a second line of defense for your internal team, allowing you to focus on what you do best while the experts knock out projects quickly and effectively. Some benefits, however, are less obvious. It’s true that on-demand experts allow you to focus on what you do best, but did you know that they also create a happier workforce? Freelancers are “often able to pursue a broader set of goals, whether those are about family, a creative pursuit, a side interest, or community involvement,” according to Deloitte research. Perhaps the concept is best understood as Dr. Amy Wrzesniewski, professor at Yale School of Management and workforce researcher, shared with Deloitte: “They care about money, and they worry about money, but they’re not doing this just for money. In fact, money is a problem they have to solve so that they can do what’s really driving them.” Partner with others to provide value for customers And now, tech companies, agencies, educators and brands are all looking for ways to better access, manage and pay freelancers at scale. Our own customers are building and managing private marketplaces to manage talent and produce great results. From training programs to martech vendors, customers of all sizes and from many industries have leveraged the Torchlite platform to empower their own customers: One martech vendor found that a private marketplace provided access to the talent that their partners and customers needed. This increased their time to value, reduced customer attrition, and ultimately led to happier customers. Another marketing technology vendor took advantage of a private marketplace to create a new revenue stream. While freelancers involved in the private marketplace make money and provide value, companies are also able to monetize the ecosystem. One digital marketing academy CEO turned their custom marketplace into a tool for graduates of their program. The students want to put their certifications and skills to work immediately, and their marketplace allowed them to showcase expertise and find gigs. How do I start? Before you can set any changes in place, you must first expand the concept of the modern workforce. That means understanding that some of the most valuable contributors on your team can extend beyond a 9-to-5, office setting. Modern marketers recognize the ability to source talent in new ways is key to competitive agility, and that means incorporating tech and other tools into the talent-hunting process. Put your team on the path to success with a single source that allows you to access, engage, and manage expert on-demand talent. After all, success depends on having the right people at the right time.

Read More

The Freelance Revolution: Working In A Post-COVID World

Apr 22, 2020 Susan Marshall

It Has To Be the Right Partnership At Torchlite, we're obviously fans of independent contractors and freelancers. Over the years, we've grown to love these problem solving, creative entrepreneurs and do everything we can to support their careers. In fact, we are a catalyst to matching professional freelancers with the brands that need their skills on demand. But you can’t just add anyone to your roster — it has to be the right partnership. So naturally, we are concerned about the challenges of the COVID 19 pandemic and  consequences for freelancers and independent professionals. According to the New York Times at least 316 million people in the US, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, are being urged to stay home. Many of those people will be forced to reconsider how and where they work, some jumping into the independent contract business full time. We at Torchlite are here to help with that transition.   Implications For The Freelance Revolution PwC has helpfully published two interesting reports. The first is PwC’s 2020 CEO survey, published at the end of March, and involving chief executives from a variety of industries and geographies. The second is a survey of corporate CFO executives, also recently published.  This month, Forbes provided a summary of the CEO study main findings, followed by some interesting implications for the freelance revolution.  Worth a read, but here are the highlights. It's good news for our freelancers: Finance talent transformation is a key emphasis.  Half (50%) of CFOs describe their team as lacking the right skills mix to meet future business needs. Moreover, 60% believe that stable, long-term employment, is less likely in the future. Taken together, it’s fairly evident from the PwC and BCG reports that freelance and independent management consulting opportunity is likely to increase and broaden as a result of COVID 19. What might we expect: More companies are likely to access freelancers both for cost efficiency and to supplement critical skill sets. Without doubt, freelancing enables a more cost and time efficient approach to supplementing or adding critical technical skills. But, beyond cost efficiency, freelancing makes it possible to attract world-class talent that would be unavailable to most organizations on a full-time basis.  Perhaps the expert wouldn’t be interested in full-time work, or his or her full-time cost would blow up the staffing budget. But, she or he would be available on a project basis, or as a consulting advisor.   4IR offers interesting and important freelance work and lots of it.  Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum described the fourth industrial revolution this way: “The possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, are unlimited. And these possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing.”  These are seen as critical investment areas, and no organization has the internal staff to independently realize the potential of 4IR. Remember, companies like Alphabet, Apple and Facebook - able to access tremendous resources - continues to depend on freelancers to fill out their teams. Freelancing, on a global scale, will grow significantly to meet the 4IR challenge. Freelancers are a critical resource to more industries. As BCG points out, freelancing is undeterred by industrial boundaries. Whether in agriculture, finance or education, most organizations lack the full set of skills and experiences they will need to take full advantage of future global and regional growth opportunities.  More areas of freelancing will grow in importance. The data sends a very clear message: freelancing will grow in a widening range of professional areas. We’ve already seen the rise of independent management consulting platforms, and the growth of new platforms in an ever growing set of professions. More companies are partnering with freelance platforms to build a more flexible, blended workforce. A Changed Economy As the danger of COVID 19 passes, and executives rework their businesses, reinventing in the context of broken supply chains, skill gaps, and digital transformational requirements, freelancing  has an exciting and attractive future. At Torchlite we have the tools and expertise to help freelancers and independent contractors thrive in our changed economy. For many companies, the work doesn’t stop even if the workers can’t be onsite. The expert freelancers who have the talents and skills that are in high demand can define where and how they work, compensation, and many other specifications around how they do their work. Join Torchlite’s network of freelancers today. Vive la Revolution!

Read More

Why “Right People at the Right Time” is Critical to Company Success

Jan 23, 2019 Susan Marshall

I’m lucky to work with a team that embodies the Torchlite mission and vision. Our team has taken the “3 Cs” (our core values — communication, collaboration, curiosity) to heart, and they demonstrate them every day. Building a team of customer success, marketing, sales, development, and professional services experts that share our mission of helping customers achieve their goals has been both challenging and rewarding. Building a team has taught me the value of having the right people at the right time. In a startup, it is difficult to know exactly when you’ll need an extra set of hands. It could be the difference between a successful product launch and missed deadlines. It’s also taught me the importance of asking for help when you don’t have the expertise you need. With the right team and the right resources, marketing results are sure to follow. The Right People: Your Internal Team Our people are critical to our growth. At the core, culture is all about people, and we’ve built a team of driven contributors who share our company’s core values. You can hire a team of A-players, but if you don’t give them the tools and support they need, what’s the point? Before we bring anyone on board at Torchlite, we ask them what they need to be successful. Equipping our team with the right tools (including access to on-demand experts) and lines of communication, allows them to focus on their goals and get more done. The Right Time: Highly Skilled Technical Experts With the right people on your team, you can weather any storm. That’s not to say that your team has to be perfect — you must have the right mixture of people, processes, and technology. But sometimes you can’t deny that you need an extra hand. In fact, the best leaders recognize when they (or someone on their team) needs help, and they facilitate getting that help. The first step in recognizing that you need an expert to fill a gap is understanding that you don’t know it all, and that you don’t have to. With so many tools and technologies available, no one person can be an expert in everything. Why settle for piecemeal marketing results when you could test, change and analyze your marketing techniques more efficiently and effectively with the help of an expert? The type of expert you choose to work with depends on your marketing team’s goals, but making sure that you have your “bread and butter” marketing tactics down pat is a good place to start. An on-demand workforce can increase the efficiency and quality of content produced to meet market demands. If you want to implement a new channel or campaign, freelance experts can be onboarded to help you prove revenue potential before hiring permanent employees for long-term execution. And when your team is occupied with more pressing projects, a bench of on-demand digital experts can make sure that all of the pieces of your marketing puzzle stay together. Since independent contractors tend to focus on a specific platform or skill, they tend to be more up-to-date with the latest product releases, trends, and “must haves” in their field. That means they’re efficient, results-driven, and that they can save you money. Our own marketing team is made up of event and digital marketers, product marketers, and designers. They’re pros at what they do, but sometimes we need an extra set of hands. That’s why they use Torchlite’s marketplace of digital experts to fill the gaps. For our team, that means working with technical experts who have a deep knowledge of Salesforce and Pardot, as well as a digital advertising whiz who helps us target the right people at the right time. From Pardot implementation and support to lead generation campaigns, our own solution has helped us scale our marketing team without increasing our headcount. It’s not just our team that has realized the value of on-demand experts — we’ve worked with hundreds of brands to help them unlock the value of their marketing technology. It's more than building another software solution. It's about bringing people and technology together to create an agile and tech-enabled approach so marketers can get more done and compete in a digital world. Need an extra set of hands? Contact us today and we'll connect you with the top 4% of digital experts.

Read More

Torchlite Secures Funding to Scale Marketplace of Certified Digital Marketing Experts

Oct 03, 2018 Susan Marshall

Today, we are pleased to announce a $3M strategic funding round that includes new investor Salesforce Ventures. In 2017, Torchlite doubled revenue, demonstrating a massive need in the market for certified digital marketing experts. In the past year, we've transformed Torchlite into an enterprise platform that helps customers access and manage a private marketplace of on-demand experts so they can dramatically improve the performance of their digital marketing campaigns. With this new platform, customers can also make those resources available to their entire enterprise, across business units and franchisees. Marketing departments who were once overwhelmed and understaffed can now tap into their own bench of experts to improve their performance of online ads, email, social campaigns, and customer journeys. Our platform is squarely focused on unlocking the value of Marketing Clouds with certified experts and data-driven playbooks that are focused on results. With this funding, we're excited to make it even better and can't thank our community of customers, investors, and supporters enough! Here's to an even bigger and better Torchlite. Press Release

Read More