The Evolution of the Gig Economy: Cupcakes to Claims Inspections
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We sure have come a long way in the gig economy. We are maturing, pivoting and enabling workers and businesses all over the world to seamlessly tap into the new digital economy. Life is good.
I remember reading back in 2011 about one of the initial gig platforms, TaskRabbit, and how one of their taskers was earning supplemental income by delivering cupcakes. It was a cute story. The gig economy started originally as a true B2C phenomenon. The "C" is obviously for cupcakes!
But that was the old gig economy. Although there is still a strong vertical for consumers, the gig economy has become more professional, streamlined and innovative.
The evolution to B2C.
The gig economy resulted from the combination of two important factors: the boom in digital platforms and the leveraging of underutilized assets. The gig economy began as a peer-to-peer phenomenon, with consumers being able to access the assets of other consumers directly through digital platforms. Think Uber, Airbnb, and yes, cupcake deliveries on TaskRabbit.
Consumers wanted more choices, better access to goods and services and flexible work options. And oh boy, did they get it! Graphic designers can now easily pick up side jobs on Upwork. People with a vehicle can drive for Uber. Those with a spare room can rent it on Airbnb, and free time can be used to conduct tasks through WeGoLook.
The peer-to-peer gig economy is mainstream and is predicted to grow to a $300 billion industry by 2025. That's not bad growth. But this is only the beginning of the gig economy story. Get ready for Act 2, where businesses are taking notice and tapping into this new industry.
The B2B pivot.
I love the quote by entrepreneur Paul Hawken, who in 2013 noted that the B2B gig economy would be "bigger than the internet." Now, Hawken may have been little ahead of the times, but we are starting to witness his prediction come true in 2017.
The gig economy's shift from B2C to B2B is in its early stages with Airbnb targeting the business travel market and Uber entering the commercial transportation scene. Newcomers like DashHaul, uShip and Cargomatic, businesses that connect enterprises with each other to leverage unused space in both shipment and warehousing, are on the rise.
The B2B gig economy began with business travel, naturally found a place in the logistics industry and is now moving toward one of its most promising sectors -- staffing.
Case study: WeGoLook.
They key difference here between the cupcake and business gig economy is that enterprise solutions provided by gig platforms are integrating seamlessly into business cycles and supply chains. How are they doing this? Through a network of on-demand workers connected through a powerful mobile application. More and more businesses are tapping into the on-demand workforce to fulfill staffing needs. Some studies estimate 40 percent of the U.S. workforce will be classified as independent, or gig, workers by 2020.
Let's consider WeGoLook as a case study. The company has more than 30,000 gig workers globally who are ready to perform professional tasks such as asset verifications, document delivery, notary services, data capturing and much more.
Enterprise clients are increasingly leveraging our Looker -- what we call a gig worker -- network, instead of their own workforce. Traditional staffing methods are wising up to the fact that on-demand workers can be dispatched at a moment's notice to perform a variety of professional tasks. Why use an expensive full-time employee who can use their time for other important duties? This is a rhetorical question all of our clients are asking themselves.
Freelancing and contracting is by no means new, but the integration of this type of workforce with innovative digital technology and mobile applications is fairly new.
For instance, WeGoLook works with gig workers who are licensed drone operators who can perform a variety of tasks such as damage assessments, professional photos for realty companies and property inspections.
WeGoLook has also partnered with many enterprise insurance clients to give them access to our network of gig workers. Instead of sending an expensive field adjuster, our app will notify Lookers that are within the job radius. They will go capture that data immediately, submit it, and the insurance carrier has that report within an hour.
You can see why enterprises are increasingly electing to plug into the gig economy. The B2B gig economy allows businesses to easily extend their service offerings outside of their normal footprint.
Final thoughts: Cupcakes versus enterprise solutions.
As you can see, the gig economy has matured considerably. The B2B gig economy has come a long way from the early days of peer-to-peer sharing of goods and services.
Seasoned gig companies like WeGoLook have embraced the shift to B2B, without compromising the B2C services that got us into business in the first place. B2B solutions have allowed WeGoLook to give more employment options to our Lookers, all the while helping enterprises join the digital economy.
The growing enterprise demand for integrated on-demand workforces and gig economy models is shaping the future gig economy. This is the gig economy 2.0.