Amid the gloom and uncertainty induced by the Covid-19 pandemic, Abidali Neemuchwala, CEO of Indian IT services giant Wipro, was upbeat about one thing during an April press briefing: Topcoder.

That’s the name of its on-demand digital talent platform—a freelance community of 1.6 million software developers, designers, and data scientists spanning over 200 countries. Topcoder allows them to improve their skills, earn money, experience and recognition, and helps enterprises across the world solve business problems.

Topcoder’s gig economy approach to coding has helped it build almost unprecedented scale. It claims to have 5X more engineers than Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter combined, and has provided solutions for leading enterprises such as Google, IBM, and Nasa.

With Covid-19 forcing companies to embrace remote working solutions, Neemuchwala believes platforms like Topcoder will become the norm. “Customers can leverage a virtual team on demand, drive cost-efficiencies, without having a large number of employees in their IT departments.”

In 2016, when Wipro acquired US-based IT consulting firm Appirio, Topcoder’s parent company, Neemuchwala had said had said The Economic Times Wipro, other IT companies exploring Uber-isation of workforce Read more , “We believe that the future of work in the IT industry is going to get Uber-ised to some extent.” Since January 2020, he’s largely been proven right.

As the threat of the pandemic paralysed IT operations, Wipro says Topcoder has seen a rise in members. With more coders available and enterprise clients getting comfortable with remote working, there has been a “huge jump” in demand as well, Mike Morris, CEO of Topcoder, told The Ken. Companies hit hard by the pandemic are realising the value of the gig economy. Enterprises can increase or decrease their capacity for talent precisely than in the past—and faster, too.

“In the current environment, large firms need access to a much larger range of skill and capabilities,” says Peter Bendor-Samuel, CEO of Everest Group, a technology client advisory headquartered in Dallas. “Many of these skills are in high demand, and firms find it impossible to hire or keep this talent. The shortage is particularly acute for experienced talent, and crowdsourcing platforms such as Topcoder offer a reliable way to tap this.”

Wipro spent $500 million to acquire Appirio. It is now part of Wipro’s Modern Application Services Modern Application Services Modern Application Services A service line in Wipro that combines consulting with development, testing and integration of enterprise applications , which contributed to 45% of its revenue in the year ended March 2019. MAS grew 1.6% year-on-year. At its most recent earnings conference, Wipro specifically mentioned Topcoder as a way to boost its consulting business. Morris declined to answer if Topcoder is self-sustaining or if it still depends on Wipro for next-stage investments.

AUTHOR

Kunal Talgeri

Kunal is a Bangalore-based business journalist who has dabbled in editing and reporting since 2001. He has covered the technology industry for the Indian editions of Fortune and Forbes, as well as The Economic Times. A commerce graduate, Kunal also studied at the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai.

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