BTG Releases 2020 High-End Independent Talent Report

January 29, 2020 Business Talent Group

Business Talent Group Releases Latest Report on the Impact of Highly Skilled Independent Talent in Fortune 1000 Companies and Beyond


January 29, 2020 – Business Talent Group (BTG)—the leading marketplace for independent management consultants, interim executives, subject matter experts, and project managers—today released its third annual report showing how top enterprise clients rely on independent workers to fill their skill and talent gaps. 

Based on an analysis of 2019 talent needs from BTG’s Fortune 1000 clients, the 2020 High-End Independent Talent Report details the top industries and business functions utilizing highly skilled independent talent, the most in-demand project types and skill sets, and the unique needs that independent talent serve across various industries and business functions.

“Each year, more and more companies realize the flexibility and innovation afforded by the use of top independent talent—even going so far as to build dedicated and centralized enterprise programs that drive usage and best practices throughout the organization,” said BTG Co-CEO and Co-Founder, Jody Greenstone Miller. “As we embark on a new decade, the leading companies of tomorrow will be those who are able to harness this new way of working to efficiently and effectively accomplish their top priorities.”

2020 Independent Talent Trends Across Industries and Functions

Notable trends in BTG’s 2020 report include the rise in process-related projects as companies seek to transform management and operations to grapple with radical shifts in the business landscape, increased reliance on high-end independent talent for advanced analytics skills that are difficult to source in the full-time market, and project management’s continued streak as the #1 skill most requested across industries.

Most in-demand projects that used independent, on-demand talent:

  1. Marketing and Sales Strategy (11%)
  2. Business Processes (11%)
  3. Opportunity Assessment (8%)
  4. Planning (8%)
  5. Interim Executive (7%)
  6. Business Intelligence and Analytics (7%)
  7. Growth Strategy (7%)
  8. Product Strategy and Launch (7%)

Most in-demand skills:

  1. Project Management (14%)
  2. Market Analysis (7%)
  3. Process Optimization and Transformation (5%)
  4. Advanced Analytics (4%)
  5. Change Management (4%)
  6. Program Management Office (PMO) (3%)
  7. Growth Strategy (3%)
  8. Strategic Planning (3%)

The report also identifies the increasing mainstream appeal of the independent model. Though the earliest adopters of high-end independent talent were executives who were previously consultants themselves, today 59% of high-end independent talent buyers have no prior consulting background, according to BTG’s latest analysis.

Finally, it’s also significant that despite technological advances making it possible for a significant portion of knowledge work to be performed remotely, BTG found that in-person interactions still matter to F1000 companies when it comes to the complicated, high-stakes projects these independents serve—with only 17% of executives interested in remote-only work arrangements for high-end talent.

Independent Talent Trends by Industry—a Deeper Dive

Along with the aggregated cross-industry insights, the BTG report revealed key differences in how companies from various sectors prioritize the challenges and opportunities they face—and how they're using freelance consultants to meet those needs:

  • Consumer goods companies need fast access to the skills that keep them ahead of the curve. Last year, supply chain and marketing topped the list of our most requested projects. This year, business process optimization has displaced them both—joining new categories like IT transformation and manufacturing excellence, where independents bring deep experience and cutting-edge expertise.
  • The financial services industry is facing big digital changes. To meet them, executives are seeking independent expertise in acquiring and developing the products that will keep them competitive—and streamlining operations to optimize these new organizational competencies.
  • Healthcare companies often struggle to recruit top talent—but still need fast access to a wide range of expertise. With deep experience and a hands-on approach to engagements, independent experts are a natural fit for the industry, and executives are turning to them for support on things like streamlining business processes and becoming more customer-centric. 
  • Facing a shortage of skilled talent—and huge advances in IoT and intelligent systems—industrial goods and services companies have found help in the independent market. Opportunity assessment and growth strategy have long been top areas of interest. New on this year’s agenda: process optimization projects aimed at boosting efficiency and incorporating the new technologies that customers have come to expect.
  • Insurance companies are meeting their industry’s challenges with projects designed not just to scope new opportunities but also to make sure the organization is ready to pursue them. Independent change managers and project managers fit the bill perfectly, seeing companies through each transition and then moving on to a new opportunity. Independent growth and innovation experts, meanwhile, offer targeted advice on everything from pricing to customer experience. 
  • Independent consultants bring life science companies a unique mix of real-world experience, strategic rigor, and targeted domain expertise in areas like market access and digital health. Small wonder, then, that the industry has long been among the biggest users of this powerful resource. As in previous years, life science executives are turning to independents for help with marketing, sales, and product strategy across business units and therapeutic areas. 
  • Private equity firms need leaders who are skilled and experienced enough to execute strategies across the investment cycle. Independent consultants and executives are a perfect resource for these firms, helping evaluate acquisition targets, validate investment theses, and drive and sustain impact through interim leadership roles. 
  • Retailers need to be nimble to keep up with today’s consumers. They must also leverage technology to deliver a seamless, personalized experience across all buying channels. It’s no surprise that the industry is turning to independent executives, who offer experienced, hands-on leadership in addition to expertise in things like digital strategy, IT systems implementation, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), cost reduction, and pricing. 
  • In a complicated business environment, B2B and B2C services firms are focusing on what matters most: their customers. Executives are tapping independent experts for new ways to acquire and retain customers, engage them with new marketing techniques, and delight them with relevant, targeted, and personalized product offerings. 
  • The opportunities in technology are exciting, but the challenges are significant: securing customer data, accessing top talent, and making sure flashy products deliver clear business outcomes. Independent talent is the industry’s secret weapon, helping clients evaluate strategies and offering specialized expertise in areas like customer segmentation and financial planning and analysis (FP&A). 

To learn more about the top projects and skills requested by companies in each sector and business function, view the full report from BTG.

About Business Talent Group

Business Talent Group (BTG) is the leading marketplace that connects independent management consultants, subject matter experts, executives, and project managers with top companies to solve their biggest business problems. BTG provides just the right on-demand talent needed—on-site or remote, part-time or full-time, individuals or teams, all around the world. Nearly 50% of the F100 trust BTG to curate, vet, and deliver legally compliant talent that fuel growth, innovation, and performance improvement. For more information, visit and join the conversation on TwitterLinkedIn, and Facebook.

About the Author

Business Talent Group (BTG) is the leading talent platform that connects top independent management consultants, subject matter experts, project managers, and interim executives with the world's best companies. BTG provides just the right on-demand talent needed: remote or on-site, part-time or full-time, individuals or teams, all around the world. That’s why more than 50% of the F100 and hundreds of other leading companies trust BTG to curate, vet, and compliantly deliver talent who fuel growth, innovation, and performance improvement. Find in-demand skills and expertise at

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