When SaaS first appeared 15 years ago, the concept of “software that is owned, delivered and managed remotely by one or more providers” seemed foreign. Today, Google defines the way we search, and Salesforce regularly ranks as one of America’s most innovative companies. Today’s SaaS market also involves convergence of content with software. This convergence drives the digital industry and champions a new opportunity for consultants – Experts-as-a-Service, or ExaaS.

Why is this our industry’s future?

1) It’s in motion as we speak

ExaaS is essentially what consultants and performance improvement companies already practice. Yet historically, there hasn’t been a tech solution that allows businesses to create and monetize both internal and external knowledge networks. ExaaS is another way to talk about the knowledge economy. The concept of individuals becoming their own companies – and the joining of these individuals online – lies at the heart of ExaaS.

With the Web, knowledge workers can sell their knowledge on-demand to multiple relevant audiences. That capability will have the same effect on the economy that SaaS did. This concept of ExaaS is multi-dimensional because it is more than online networks providing experts on-demand – it exemplifies a new way of working.

 

2) It’s a solution to content fatigue

For consultants who have built businesses based on their knowledge, ExaaS is their chance to build monetized communities online. However, in doing so, they face an uphill battle. Today’s consulting companies must think less like fee-earners selling large chunks of time and more like publishers and on-demand expert services like GLG and AlphaSights. Yet most consultancies protect the problem. They incentivize their partners and principles to drive more fee earner revenues while on-demand expert networks fulfill clients’ needs for direct online interaction.

How will ExaaS evolve this space? Experts will continue to provide transient and on-demand knowledge, but for audiences that are more specific than those on platforms like Facebook and Quora. Rather than social networks that allow anyone to post content, there will be more independent contractors that make good livings by creating revenue streams from their expertise alone.

3) Independent work is our economy’s future

In 2013, independent contractors earned $1.2 trillion in annual income; by 2020, the employment lifespan with a single company might reduce to 6-12 months. The employee/employer relationship will morph over these next few years – and more power will move to the former’s hands.

At the same time, any business with experts at the heart of their organizations will need to leverage them in smarter ways. Whether they are corporate or independent, businesses in the knowledge economy will thrive by using SaaS to leverage ExaaS. They will create knowledge networks where audiences and experts can collaborate online.

Today’s publishers and consulting companies are curators of experts that can build these targeted networks. This opportunity offers new channels of monetization without having to compete with the noise of social networks. The ExaaS economy will quiet that noise; will you join our work?