Update: Fieldglass

Local Chicago software firm is growing, prospering and winning in a down economy and tough, consolidating sector. Learn more about Fieldglass and the issues in the contingent services space.
Written by Brian Sommer, Contributor

I have a particular soft spot for Chicago-based software firms. They’re within commuting distance. They defy the usual laws of technology startups (i.e., they aren’t headquartered in Silicon Valley, Austin or Boston). And, they bring some zip to the IT world of the Midwest USA. Fieldglass is one of these.

Fieldglass is part of software space, like ERP, that has been in consolidation mode for over a decade now. When I met with several Fieldglass executives last week, we spent a lot of time reminiscing over firms we both ‘used to’ know. Vinnie, over at Deal Architect , and I had one of those firms.

Fieldglass helps firms acquire talent. They have a technology platform that supports three kinds of talent acquisition: contingent/contract labor, services procurement and recruitment. If you think this so-so stuff, consider that the company has well over $8 billion in services spend under management.

Fieldglass’ ecosystem consists of:

- customers in 63 countries - 7,200 labor suppliers (only a few of these are 1099’s or independent contractors) - a very large number of Fortune 500 clients

Over lunch, the Fieldglass executives and I discussed a number of interesting services issues. We discussed:

- how businesses alternate between experiencing a war for talent (during robust economies) and pursuing low cost labor sources (during poor economies). We all agreed that now is a great time for companies to be enhancing their bench.

- how contingent labor is continuing to grow in this and future economies. Just take a look at last week’s cover story on BusinessWeek (The Permanent Temporary Workforce – The Disposable Worker (1/18/2010))

- how corporate HR departments still seem focused only pn permanent hires and have pushed the acquisition of contingent workers to Procurement. This is particularly interesting as more and more workers are contingent. It’s almost as if HR professionals are inadvertently phasing themselves out of a job.

Fieldglass is doing well. The company has moved to a leadership position in its niche. It is cash flow positive and growing (even in spite of the economy). Fieldglass can do well as so many of its competitors have passed on. With fewer competitors, there is now room for firms like Fieldglass, IQNavigator and the other survivors to blossom.

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