The Harvard Business Review's The Big Idea: The Age of Hyperspecialization covers the trend towards work being divided into ever smaller tasks performed by ever more specialized workers.
The article suggests these workers will increasingly be contractors provided via online talent marketplaces instead of traditional employees.
The article argues that the hyperspecialization has several key advantages - speed, quality and cost. The authors argue these advantages "virtually guarantee that this model will become more widespread."
A good example of this is the services offered by Fiverr, an online talent marketplace.
Once known as a general task marketplace, Fiverr has become a specialist platform offering creative services such as graphics and design, video and animation, music and audio services and other creative help.
The buyers of these services are mostly small businesses who need access to these types of services but cannot afford to have specialized talent as employees.
Fiverr fits the hyperspecialization model layed out in the HBR article in several ways:
1. Speed - Fiverr makes it very easy to quickly find and hire specialized talent. The talent also quickly deploys and gets the work done. For example, this British accent voice over specialist responds to job requests in 5 hours and on average completes a project in 4 days.
2. Quality - reviews and feedback mean buyers have a good sense of the quality of the work prior to engaging creative services providers. Also, because these people are specialists they are good at what they do. They also have to compete to stay in business, which means they have to be good.
3. Cost - Fiverr is famous for things costing $5 dollars on their site, but this is no longer true. Many tasks cost much more than $5, but creative services costs on Fiverr are still inexpensive relative to traditional sources of this type of work.
Fiverr's move from a generalist task marketplace to a specialized creative services talent marketplace was clearly driven by the shift towards hyperspecialization.
Hyperspecialization is a broad trend, impacting many areas of the economy and society. For example, the shift to barbell industry structures is in part driven by this trend.
And, obviously, it's a driver of the shift to independent work.
We'll have more on this trend in the near future.