The first decade of the 21st century (2001-2010) ended up being about automating the source-to-settle process for catalog content, this decade seems to be about doing the same for all sorts of services.  (Yes, apparently these things take a decade–though the process does seem to be accelerating a bit thankfully!)

Some examples:

  • Fieldglass and IQNavigator, a couple of the original software providers in the temporary labor space are reportedly continuing to grow like weeds.
  • Elance and Odesk, which automate the RFQ to settle process, for off-site services (e.g., IT development, marketing, etc) both just raised $16 million and $15 million respectively.
  • Crowdsourcing vendors of logos (e.g., 99designs), videos (e.g. Poptent) and others are attracting investments and growing rapidly.  Crowdsourcing providers reported a 75% increase in revenue last year to $376 million, up from $215 million in 2010 and $141 in 2009, according to a report by crowdsourcing.org, a Dallas-based site that tracks the crowd-funding industry.
  •  SIM, or supplier credentialing, vendors who specialize in the services that are provided on site–either in oil and gas, mining etc, or even in hospitals–are also growing rapidly and attracting capital and attention.  There are multiple sites that specialize in keeping the credentials of pharma and device reps who visit hospitals.  See a prior post for more on the SIM space.
  • Facility related services are being provided by technology-enabled outsourcing providers as well as being enabled through several pure play software vendors.
  • Travel and event planning has also seen a lot of activity with StarCite being bought, Cvent raising $100 million, Concur’s stock soaring, and Eved raising $9.5 million.  (Disclosure:  I am a board member of Eved.)
  • The entire process of media buying is being automated online and offline by the likes of MediaOcean, Rubicon, DoubleClick (Google) and many others.

I could go on to cover legal, print, logistics, insurance and a bunch of other services.  But you get the point.  All those categories that used to take a back seat in the early days of e-procurement are now coming to the fore.  The low hanging fruit has been “plucked” and the movement is “higher up on tree” where processes are more complex and the value provided to both parties is potentially more substantial.  The SOLOMO convergence of social, local, and mobile adds an entirely new set of catalysts for automating the service supply chain–from verification of service performance to onsite capture of documents.

After a decade of relatively straightforward activity, it is fun to finally see these categories be tackled by customers and vendors.

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