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March 31, 2016
Liquid Workforce: Structuring Fluid Projects, Hollywood Style
By: Mary Hamilton

Raise your hand if you’re a binge TV watcher. I’m right there with you! But I still love going to the theater to see a Hollywood blockbuster movie. There’s the big screen, the buttered popcorn and—behind the scenes—effective workforce planning and workforce management in action.

That’s right, when it comes to structuring fluid projects, digital businesses can take their workforce strategy cue from Hollywood. As discussed in the Accenture Technology Vision 2016, an agile workforce equals an agile business. As technology innovation accelerates, companies must find new ways to enhance organizational efficiency.

One powerful option is to invest in building a future workforce with the ability to adapt continually—through digital skills, collaborative projects that blend internal employees with crowdsourcing, and organizational oversight. [Incidentally, I was a panelist on a related topic about cross-platform content at the Digital Hollywood Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in 2016 and 2015.]

Focusing specifically on projects, think about how films are made (see Figure 1). Studios need to employ the skills of directors, script writers, actors and hundreds of other movie industry employees for a period of time. However, no studio owns all the labor. The system relies on a mixture of internal and external workers where everybody knows their role and hand-offs are seamless.

There are specialists who scout locations, operate cameras, sew costumes, edit film, cater food and so on. Some tasks are completed onsite; others in computer-generated imagery labs or post-production offices. The arrangement enables studios to finish projects in a shorter amount of time while specialists have an opportunity to work on more projects to earn more money. The result is an entertaining movie for millions of people to watch.

Learning from Hollywood

Figure 1: Leading businesses can manage projects using a successful workforce model borrowed from the movie industry.

As outlined in the Liquid Workforce trend, leading enterprises need to develop a new approach to projects. These strategies should have clearly defined roles for fast, iterative work that engages a hybrid team of employees—internal employees, external business partners, freelancers and crowdsourcing. As just one example, TAG Heuer, the Swiss watchmaker, developed the first luxury Android Wear smartwatch by orchestrating a project involving multiple partners. TAG Heuer teamed up with Chaotic Moon to design and develop a fully integrated, omnichannel experience, and integrated with hardware partner Intel and software partner Google to create a smartwatch interface.

Tapping into the crowd for talent
This future workforce will be enabled by cloud-based workflows and collaboration tools that facilitate engagement and productivity. More than half (51 percent) of workers already believe that digital technology has expanded the number of individuals they work with outside of their organization.1
This percentage will only get larger.

Most exciting to me, however, is the workplace innovation of crowdsourcing. Accenture believes digital enterprises should begin now to formalize their crowdsourcing strategies in order to tap into a global pool of workers, ideas and skills to complement on-going projects.

At Accenture Technology Labs, we’re actively researching dynamic workforce engagement and support through the Digital Experiences R&D group. The Labs also launched a Digital Workforce strategic innovation initiative that, among its many projects, is taking a systemic approach to reimagining today’s work processes and prototyping a workforce virtualization platform capable of supporting internal and external crowdsourcing. For more information, see our series of blog posts on crowdsourcing and complementary point of view, “Crowd Powered Data Enrichment.”

Accessing the crowd will soon become a competitive strategy for digital businesses, too. For example, Boehringer Ingelheim, a leading pharmaceuticals company, wanted to find innovative solutions for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder, which is projected to become the third leading cause of death by 2030. The company took the project to BioMedX, an organization that publicly shares big pharma contracts with a pool of talented individuals around the world. The best solution will win a two- to four-year fellowship with BioMedX to work on the problem, fully financed by the pharmaceutical group.2

In fact, I predict that crowdsourcing will be a “box office hit” for business and IT executives in multiple industries. And that, as they say in Hollywood, is a wrap.

To learn more about this year’s Accenture Technology Vision, I invite you to read the chapter highlights, check out a range of informative at-a-glance visuals, view our videos and slideshares, and keep checking this blog for more discussion of these trends.


1 "Technology’s Impact on Workers,” Pew Research Center, December 2014.
2 "Crowdsourcing for Innovation: BioMed X has just the right Recipe,“ Labiotech.eu, September 2015, http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/09/25/rainforest-qa-changes-devops-testing-by-crowdsourcing-humans/

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