Expert Network Industry 2021: Growth or Decline?

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way businesses respond to the notions of flexible hours and remote labor, with surveys providing increased volumes of outsourcing and the number of employees working from home.

At the same time, entrepreneurs have become more technologically aware than ever before as well as more open to new ways of working and conducting business. These events have also affected expert networks. This article takes a broader look at the 2021 trends of the expert network industry.

Over the last decade, the expert network industry, which represents a platform where services provided by experts who are leading specialists in their fields can be found, has seen a surge in new entrants leading to increased competition. As a result, expert networks have started to add new services to their core offering, making the industry more innovative.

At the same time, many expert networks have focused on new technologies in order to improve expert sourcing using natural language processing (NLP – a branch of AI concerned with giving machines the ability to interpret text and spoken speech in a manner similar to that of humans) along with machine learning.

Expert network statistics

Despite the number of providers having increased considerably, expert networks have maintained a solid trend in revenue growth. In the period between 2015 and 2020, the expert network sector grew at an annual rate of 4.5% with a market size reaching US$1.3 billion in 2019 and US$1.5 billion in 2020.

While hedge funds and private equity companies have previously been the industry’s primary clients, consulting companies today account for 32% of the overall demand for expert network services.

Despite a fall in weekly job listings on LinkedIn during the peak of the COVID-19 epidemic, postings rebounded significantly in the third and fourth quarters of 2020. Expert network recruiting was almost back to mid-March levels by mid-November.

Expert Network Market Size

A study released by Integrity Research and Index One shows that the United States continues to be the largest geographical source of expert network industry revenue.

The study estimated company-level revenues using corporate filings, interviews with current and former workers and external measures.

According to the paper, Asia remains underserved in comparison to other regions although study co-author, Max Friberg, comments that Asia-based expert networks have seen significant growth. He also added that although Asia is a large growing market, Europe also has significant potential. If Europe and Asia-Pacific reach the consumption levels registered in the US, the market would almost double.

Expert networks in 2021

Both European and US experts in the field agree that in 2021 and beyond, the expert network industry will continue to grow and this is partly due to the fact that COVID-19 has hastened the transition to freelancing with more professionals following this road purely out of need.

In addition, specialists believe that by being part of an expert network, individuals have the ability to stay up to date on the latest topics regarding their industry.

From the viewpoint of companies, expert networks represent a less expensive and more flexible choice than traditional hiring. Today, employing freelancers has become the norm.

The Future of Expert Networks

Experts in the field believe that in the future more expert networks will be dedicated to specific domains, such as healthcare or AI. Some consider that the expert network industry will be mainly dominated by two major trends: new technologies and services. However, among other popular trends are green energy, insurance and general health.

The future holds many opportunities for expert networks due to a number of experts retiring or those looking for a new place to live in a less crowded area which in turn will lead to a greater inclination for high-level professionals to work online. Businesses in need of those experts will thus apply to expert networks.

Despite the slowdown provoked by the COVID-19 pandemic, the forecasts for the expert network industry remain favorable. The potential for global economic development is expanding as new technology and expert networks make it easier to discover and access expertise.

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