The pandemic may have put a pause on technology hiring, but the software gig economy is buzzing, where freelance developers on crowdsourced platforms such as Topcoder, Github and HackerEarth work on specific tasks for a fee.
These platforms, where clients find independent developers to ideate quickly and work on multiple projects, have gained as customers seek more agile workforces, with their requirements changing at short notice.
Top Indian IT companies have already indicated that hiring will remain muted over the first and second quarters of this financial year, while contract hiring might rise as companies try to reduce long-term cost commitments.
Topcoder, a community of 1.6 million freelance software developers, reported higher community activity, order bookings and overall fulfilment since the pandemic struck.
“Specifically, we saw a 180% rise in our active members on the platform and our fulfilment rate on crowdsourcing projects increased from 96% to 98% in this period. This period has also been a boost for our Talent-as-a-Service (TaaS) business, where we are witnessing a lot of demand for full-time, temporary staffing of skills from customers," said Michael P. Morris, global head of crowdsourcing at Wipro Ltd, which acquired Topcoder in 2016.
New order bookings have doubled month-on-month since the pandemic, Morris said, adding Topcoder’s current portfolio consists of mission-critical and timely projects, as compared to its traditional portfolio of innovation programmes and experimental projects.
Gartner Inc. analysts told Mint during a recent interaction on new business models for IT that vendors will have the scope to build on projects that help clients optimize costs better using solutions such as crowdsourcing and shared services. So, more enterprise-level niche projects requiring quick turnaround are being diverted to the developer gig economy.
HackerEarth, which helps hire and evaluate developers for specific skills, has been holding hackathons to help enterprises address software requirements during the lockdown. “They (enterprises) are doing this to gather ideas and prototypes in a scenario when hiring is slow. A lot of these solutions are targeted towards specific software solutions that will be required during the lockdown/pandemic which need to be addressed immediately," said Alfred Alexander, vice-president of marketing at HackerEarth.