PRO Unlimited, a global innovator of contingent workforce management software and services, recently announced the appointment of Kevin Akeroyd as its Chief Executive Officer. Having run large business units at some of the tech industry’s most successful, dynamic and innovative companies, including Oracle and Salesforce.com, Kevin is poised to further strengthen PRO Unlimited’s position as an industry leader. Kevin recently shared his insights with the Future of Sourcing on why he chose to join PRO Unlimited, his vision for the company, and the transformation that’s taking place within the contingent workforce management industry.
What interests you about the Contingent Workforce Management industry, and what specifically interested you about wanting to join PRO Unlimited?
The contingent workforce management industry is incredibly important right now. As the marketplace has evolved in recent years, contingent labor has emerged as the “workforce of the future” for both employees and the CHROs of employers. Beyond that, it’s becoming such a large spend category that it’s now an enterprise valuation driver, so it’s front and center with the CFO. Looking back over the past 30 years, you have this industry that’s gone from a small temp-staffing niche to a C-suite strategic priority, both from a talent and procurement standpoint, and a technology and innovation perspective.
This platform, including the technology stack, is going to evolve, and more importantly it needs to evolve. The established Procurement/Spend Management and HCM platforms don’t currently address the full contingent workforce management lifecycle. Furthermore, they aren’t capable of managing its complexity, or harnessing the data to provide analytics and intelligence on companies’ contingent workforce segments that executives demand.
PRO Unlimited is the market leader and is uniquely positioned to become the holistic platform for the industry. That’s one of the main reasons I decided to not only make the jump to the contingent workforce management industry, but also to join PRO specifically. This company is incredibly well positioned in terms of technology, data/analytics, managed services and, most importantly, its people.
What expertise, successes and learnings from your previous positions and organizations are applicable to both PRO Unlimited and the success of its clients?
There are six key areas that I’ll be focused on at PRO based on my previous roles and industries. They include the following:
First, in the past I’ve led companies where they went from only offering point solutions and made the evolution into holistic platforms. At PRO, we’ll continue evolving our Managed Services Program (MSP), Data/Analytics, Integration Ecosystem and Vendor Management Software (VMS) offerings toward an even more comprehensive contingent workforce management platform that will continue to drive our clients’ program success as the marketplace shifts.
Second, the scale player is going to win in this industry. The need for scale is critical, and that means scaling both organically and through M&A. I’ve run a number of large businesses that have gone through this explosive scale, and I’m looking to apply many of these tenets and lessons learned to PRO as we look to widen the scale gap versus our competitors in the industry.
Third, there’s a global need for our software, data, analytics and services platform. Providers need to become more global as this industry expands and the use of contingent labor grows with both Fortune 500 and Global 2000 companies. I will draw upon my deep expertise in globalization to continue to expand and extend PRO’s global reach.
Fourth, I have been through several industry transformations, and the contingent workforce management industry is about to embark on its own transformation. As stated earlier, PRO is uniquely positioned to become the holistic platform for the industry by not only providing our solutions to our customers, but leading them up the maturity curve as they go through their own FTE to contingent transformations inside their companies.
Fifth, the importance of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) needs to grow at scale worldwide inside of both large Fortune 500 and Global 2000 organizations. The platform we provide will continue to support moving D&I front and center at companies, as well as us investing heavily in our own company on this mission-critical front. I have spent the last decade driving large-scale D&I and social/corporate responsibility programs, and am excited to do that at PRO.
Sixth, the importance of developing a holistic partnership ecosystem is critical to how PRO will grow and transform the industry. This ecosystem will be comprised of analytics, data, service and advisory, and technology partnerships.
What are PRO Unlimited’s competitive differentiators, and how do you intend to exploit them for increased growth both strategically and operationally given PRO Unlimited’s 30-year history of success?
First and foremost, the strengths of PRO reside in its people and talent. For 30 years, PRO has always had the best talent within the industry. Moving forward, we’re going to continue evolving from the trusted advisor that has delivered program management, service delivery and flawless execution to a strategic advisory, intelligence and business decisioning partner leveraging our world-class best practices, insights, data and analytics.
Second, PRO has industry-leading VMS technology that’s been recognized and validated as best-in-class by leading third parties such as Gartner. We’re going to leverage our highly configurable and interoperable platform, and tap into our deep network, to build a new ecosystem that clients will need as this industry evolves.
Third, the importance of data, analytics and business intelligence has permeated every industry, and ours in no different. Our Strategy, Analytics and Metrics (SAM) team, coupled with the powerful analytics/intelligence SaaS solution we offer, will help propel new solutions that organizations will be able to use to elevate their contingent workforce management programs.
Fourth, while we’ve already established ourselves as a global leader, we’ll continue to expand our footprint very aggressively and extend our lead over our competitors.
What trends do you anticipate that will influence the contingent workforce management space?
I see several trends taking form over the next several years. These include the continued preference of knowledge, specialized-skilled, white-collared workers across the globe to only be willing to work on a contingent basis, not FTE. This will be a career choice for many, which will radically accelerate the complexities of this segment. Companies will need to not only navigate these evolving areas at a rapid pace, but to also expertly address localization, globalization, changing regulatory and labor laws, remote work, and diversity and inclusion, among others. The notion of things like the “gig economy” is going to dramatically expand across virtually all categories of the skilled workforce, and in many industries, the leaders in those industries will have more contingent workers than they have FTEs.
In addition, as the spend under management continues to expand, it will be mission critical for the C-suite to be more involved. Currently, for the most part, the selection and management of outsourcing a company’s contingent workforce management program has been relegated as “tactical” and pushed fairly far down the organization’s org chart. This will change as C-level executives will play a much greater role in the decision to not only outsource the non-employee management function, but also to deploy a technological ecosystem to harness data and intelligence to drive their businesses forward as part of their human capital strategy. Furthermore, the use of machine learning, artificial intelligence and other emergent technologies tied to both data analytics and VMS is going be more important than ever. They’ll need to provide stakeholders with the ability to enhance sourcing, managing and tracking of the non-employee workforce by region and around the world.
To this end, integration will be critical. The ability to span across siloes where vendors have lived for the past 30 years is going to be a more integral part of a much larger technology stack and services ecosystem. Being the platform that seamlessly interoperates with ERP, HCM, HRIS, P2P, and Data and Analytics systems will be paramount.