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Field Engineer CEO Malik Zakaria: ‘We Streamline The Costly Search For Talent’

Malik Zakaria discusses how the Gig Economy is changing the IT industry and how Field Engineer can help solution providers find the engineering talent they need to be successful.

Field Engineer founder and CEO Malik Zakaria tells CRN in an exclusive interview how the Gig Economy is changing the IT industry and the channel, and how Field Engineer can help solution providers find the trained, experienced contract engineering talent they need to be successful.

CRN: What is the Gig Economy and how does it apply to the IT industry?

Malik Zakaria: The Gig Economy is a new kind of labor market in which workers sell their labor on an as needed basis to companies rather than becoming full-time employees. Some companies don’t need to hire full-time professionals. It’s more economical for a company to hire on an as-needed basis, paying contract workers only for the work they do. Highly skilled workers, meanwhile, want to make more money because their skills are in high demand and they can get good rates for their expertise. More jobs are going to be created through the Gig Economy: It’s now a leading job provider with almost 60 million people, according to an Intuit survey, and the 9-to-5 economy is a thing of the past.

How can solution providers benefit from the Gig Economy?

Solution providers, resellers and systems integrators can hire outside talent to meet their need for unique skills. They can’t possibly have the expertise in place for every project. They can boost their own workforce numbers during critical periods, like when they have a big deployment project going on and they need an on-demand workforce. The Gig Economy provides workforce flexibility; it becomes an operational cost instead of a fixed cost and helps solution providers reduce expenses. And solution providers can use the Gig Economy to get talented people to work at customer sites far from their home base. They can expand globally. They don’t have to be restricted just because they don’t have a workforce in other countries.

How do solution providers benefit from using Field Engineer to tap into the Gig Economy?

Solution providers take on large deployment projects, and they need engineers all the time. But they may not need full-time engineers or engineers with the same skill sets. The core value proposition for solution providers is our service makes it easy for them to connect with field engineers, reducing transaction costs and offering more choice. We streamline the costly search for talent. And where they might have had to say ‘No’ to customer projects in other regions or countries, now they can find the workforce they need by engaging with us.

Which engineering skills are most in demand by solution providers?

We are focused on telecom, communications networks and data center systems, routers, switches, data center installations, all types of infrastructure deployment. Today there is a lot of demand for SD-WAN expertise. And 5G deployment is coming up very soon—there will be a lot of talent needed for upgrading infrastructure from 4G to 5G.

The platform that Field Engineer has developed is the core of the business. How do you build your database of telecom and network engineers?

Engineers use our mobile application to provide us with their information and create a profile listing their technology skills, their certifications, their work experience, their location and what kind of contract jobs they are looking for. We have a vetting process where we do employment background checks and certification checks—certifications are cross-referenced with the exams they have passed for those certifications. We rely on the power of our platform to attract talent. Engineers are drawn to the platform because of the flexibility and the opportunity for the work that we offer. Today we have more than 45,000 engineers in more than 180 countries listed on the platform.

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