Everything happens with a click. Technology moves at an unfathomable speed and every industry no matter how to innovative or arcane is battling to catch up. Back in the day, when you wanted to buy a new pair of Levi’s, you had to hit the local mall, Walmart, or department store. Now? You can buy every style of pant known to humankind with a few critical words from around the world. And this isn’t even including Amazon, where you can buy the pants at a low price, but also get them delivered fast – sometimes the same day or within 48 hours or sooner.
Thanks to digital media, we don’t have to buy copies of anything to clutter up the house. If you’re not into rows of vinyl or walls of books, you can stream pretty much every form of music from your iPhone thanks to Spotify, watch every tv show or movie on Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Showtime, Starz, and again, haven’t mentioned Amazon Prime or iTunes. Books have an entire ecosystem with Kindles and iPads. Whatever you want to consume, all you’ve got to do is hit that magical “Buy Now” or “Play” button and that’s it. You’re plugged in.
Plugged in and ready to go
We can book plumbers from an app, order a large pepperoni while stuck at a stop light. (Don’t app and drive, tho. Not a good look.) Every service, ever is available online and if it’s not, someone is working on it. From overnight screen printing to finding a mechanic who’ll work in your driveway, people are used to having the power, and they’re not giving it back.
On the technology side, we’re developing new ways to create and create industry, and on the people side, the worker is more powerful than ever. Independent workers can engage in short-term jobs, deciding when they want to work. There are more freelancers now than ever, allowing employers to get work done immediately instead of going through a lengthy hiring process.
The economy is enormous, over 36% of the U.S.economy is working via Uber or Instacart, Favor or Lyft – and it’s only getting bigger. In its beginning, the gig economy was a part-time thing for people in between jobs, but now, more and more workers are breaking the rules and making the on-demand industry work for them. Some people are just happier delivering tacos instead of punching a clock in an office they hate.
But what’s next? With so much changing almost weekly, the innovations are in no short order. While some jobs can’t be handled on demand, the inverse is there’s a number floating around that 25% of the current jobs in the market won’t exist in 10 years. More and more people are enjoying being their own bosses and offering a service on their terms. According to Forrester, nearly half of Generation Z is already freelancing, which is indicative of the current market trends: just like our services, work is on our terms, too.
More companies are going to move to a gig economy, on demand model
The market has shifted, and everyone is battling to keep up both in mom and pop shops, but the big boxes, along with the Internet boutiques. To keep workers moving along, companies of all sizes will just have to adjust. To double down on this premise, many companies are also allowing headcount for temporary workers, ones that come in for a specific project like stocking a warehouse or staffing a one-time event. By doing so, this lessens the chance of burnout for regular employees, but also saves the company a lot of money on workers that they’d otherwise be finding odd jobs to keep them busy between projects.
This works on the more experienced side, as well. Because so many people are switching to an on demand methodology, senior-level specialists can come over, work on a project and split. This is pretty similar to what a freelancer already does, but in the future, will become a regular part of the landscape in places that aren’t creative or office-based. There will probably be a few A+ mechanics or landscaping pros offering a one-time fee for their years of expertise instead of slugging it out in the shop or in the field.
When it comes to marketplaces, watch out
Harvard Business Review cited that more than 22.4M consumers spent a whopping $57.6B last year for on demand services. Places like eBay and Etsy, racking in $36B while transportation services like Uber and Lyft earned $5.6B, while Instacart, Favor and other food and grocery delivery apps earned $4.6B. That’s a ton of money.
The technology isn’t what’s driving the shift in culture: it’s the marketplace. People want easy solutions for every day and sometimes, niche problems. When someone solves something as simple as delivering any kind of food or picking up your dry cleaning or finding a mechanic who’ll work with your budget, that’s an emotional and literal win for the consumers, which will drive the market. Uber is the perfect example: everyone hated taking taxis. There was always the fear of being overcharged, they’d be late, or whatever problem. Now, we can call a ride, see the route, and know the cost upfront. This solves a multifaceted problem.
Because of these changes, more and more companies are investing in AI (Artificial Intelligence) to help move customers out of their support queue by answering simple questions that could filter out the easy stuff that an internal library could solve. The biggest win? This saves money on tier 1 support agents, but the customer isn’t sitting on hold forever.
The world of on demand is flipping the script for businesses both big and small as well as our lives. There’s no stopping where the industry of the “now” is headed.