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Three trends driving the adoption of IT freelancing

IT has always been a popular area of business to outsource and it continues to grow, so predicting where IT is heading is important to both those working in the industry, as well as companies looking to employ IT professionals.

In fact, Elance's Q1 2012 online employment report found that there has been a 14 per cent quarter-on-quarter increase in demand for IT professionals on the platform. Using freelancers is nothing new, but I can't help but wonder whether the current pace of change in the IT industry is partly causing this trend.

This seems to be backed up by the figures, so I thought I'd pull out three areas where we are seeing increasing demand. These trends point to a future where talented freelancers with specific skills in highly-valued emerging technologies could stand to benefit. It also shows how companies can change the way they work and outsource projects that just might not be possible to carry out in-house:

1. The smartphone and tablet revolution

Mobile technology has soared in popularity in both business and day-to-day life. This is good news for those working in the IT sector. Companies are continuing to seek developers that can create mobile apps and that are skilled in working with mobile networks and data.

It is particularly interesting to note that, in our report, demand for experienced Android developers has soared – a 35 per cent increase on the previous quarter. This suggests that companies are increasingly looking to expand the mobile platforms they are able to develop for customers and employees alike. It remains to be seen whether further developments in the mobile space will have a knock-on effect when it comes to reviewing Q2 trends.

2. Large businesses looking to hire online

It is no surprise that online hiring has always been particularly attractive for SMEs; allowing a small company the flexibility to hire the expertise it needs but without having to commit to long term contracts. On Elance there are currently over 115,000 registered contractors in the PHP sector alone, that's an incredible busy market and SME's a are reaping the benefits of competitive pricing. However, we have recently picked up another trend that is particularly interesting.

Larger enterprises already use temp workers, but now we are seeing innovative companies engaging online workers to further reduce cost, gain agility and even improve quality and outcome. At the heart of this is a need to respond quickly to changing scenarios or new projects and IT skills increasingly play a key role.

3. Benefitting from a global workplace

The final key trend that we have witnessed in the Q1 report is that workers in struggling economies are leveraging the web when local employment opportunities become scarce. It's a solution free from geographical constraints. For example, earnings from Elance contractors in Egypt, Greece and Spain – all countries recently on the brink of economic crisis – have experienced sizeable growth, increasing 147 per cent, 122 per cent, and 142 per cent respectively, over the past year.

For IT teams, this provides a unique opportunity to tap into a talented pool of workers, especially in areas where finding the right people for the job proves difficult. And with the management tools that a platform offers, managing a global workforce has never been easier.

Technology will continue to shape the IT industry and I personally think the best way to be prepared is to be flexible. By tapping into the human cloud, employers can find the best professionals available, with the specific skills required for specific projects.

Companies are now able to be so much more flexible, staffing up and down depending on need. And, as these trends show, this isn't something for the future, it is a way of working that IT teams and businesses of all sizes are adopting and benefitting from already.