Expert Networks in a post-COVID world

The coronavirus pandemic that hit the world in 2020 has changed the way businesses are run, leading to an increase in demand for remote working. A growing number of companies and individuals have become more technologically aware than ever before as well as being more open to innovative solutions and ways of conducting business. According to Microsoft, the crisis accelerated digital change by two years in just two months. But how has the pandemic influenced expert networks and what is the prognosis for their future in a post-COVID world?    

Back in 2018, a team of analysts from Inex One published a report regarding the market size of expert networks which stated that from 2012 to 2016 the industry had registered continuous growth reaching a market size of US$1 billion. 

By 2019, after several years of double-digit growth, it was estimated that this 
promising industry had reached a market size of US$1.3 billion. 

Then the COVID-19 came along, taking its toll on the world economy and on the expert network sector in particular. However, a number of different factors indicated that the industry would rebound and become even stronger. And so it happened. 

COVID-19 Pandemic Impact on Expert Networks 

  • Throughout the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic (at the beginning of 2020), the larger experts networks showed certain changes in their hiring patterns. For instance, in the summer of 2020, the hiring curve of the world’s largest expert network, GLG, reached a nadir before steadily rebounding towards the end of August.
  • In the period between May and September 2020, Atheneum’s hiring decreased but not to the same level as GLG. From November, Atheneum, one of the larger expert networks in Europe, registered an increase in hiring reaching higher than pre-pandemic levels although this figure dropped shortly afterwards.
  • Lynk Global, a medium-sized expert network from Southeast Asia, experienced a stagnation in hiring that lasted until the end of summer before later increasing. 

Expert Networks After COVID-19 

Some voices say that the expert network industry has not only recovered from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic but that it also continues to thrive.  After the pandemic broke out, industry experts started to monitor the number of job postings on LinkedIn and employment websites from 16 large expert network organizations. 

Although the industry was not immune to the impacts of COVID-19, it still continued to grow. According to a study conducted by Integrity Research and Inex One, which analyzed the revenue estimates of the top 40 expert networks, in 2020 the expert network industry registered   a total market size of US$1.5 billion. 

Even though the number of providers has increased, expert networks have maintained a solid revenue growth trend. Today, hiring has reached its pre-pandemic level and is expected to grow further. 


Experts’ Opinions on Expert Networks Future 

MBO Chief of Market Strategy, Bryan Peña, expects that along with the various forms of independent talent, the expert network industry will register fast growth. He believes that the varying nature of the work makes it possible for people to capitalize on their talents and experience in ever-increasing ways, and expert networks enable high-impact individuals to accomplish this with minimal effort.  

Dr. David Kuepper, the Managing Director at Expert Powerhouse of Germany, considers that with rising complexity in all domains, the general demand for expert input will continue to grow with the private equity and consulting industries continuing to be the largest customers. On the same positive note, Max Friberg, CEO at Inex One, stated that in general, the expert network sector has been strong, even increasing in the face of the 2020 pandemic. According to Mr. Frieberg the two industries that will set the trends for expert networks are innovative technology and new services. 

Expert networks continue to thrive since they provide something very useful – expertise-on-demand – by connecting experts and those companies in need of their expertise. Expert networks often recruit people who had no notion that they were specialists in a given area. The crisis generated by the COVID-19 has resulted in a revival of business dependence on expert-driven information. Companies need professionals now more than ever as they move towards the new normal. 

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Expert Network Industry 2021: Growth or Decline?

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