Beyond Uber: tapping into the on-demand economy

Combine the proliferation of smart technology, a culture that craves convenience, a slow economic recovery and a generation of underemployed workers who want to set their own terms, and you have the perfect conditions for the emergence of a disruptive new business model — on-demand.

With Uber-like businesses offering everything from door-to-door grocery delivery to dog walking through Internet-based applications, the on-demand economy is revolutionizing consumer behavior and service delivery.

Valued between $60 billion to $300 billion, this new economy is growing at an accelerating clip and showing no signs of slowing. As more startups adopt the on-demand model, real-time business-to-business offerings are likely to mushroom. Below are just a few pioneers:

  • WorkNow!, Shiftgig, Moonlighting, Wonolo and People as a Service are on-demand staffing platforms that match employers with pre-vetted workers for hourly, daily, shift and freelance work.
  • Harvard-backed Experfy connects companies with experienced Big Data and analytics consultants to deliver technology and business solutions on demand.
  • Boomtown offers small businesses everyday tech support at the tap of a button.
  • Directly taps into talent inside and outside an organization to develop and deploy an on-demand customer care network.
  • VOIQ provides an experienced on-demand global call force to help companies reach prospective customers and qualify sales leads.

Other on-demand B2B companies match businesses with legal counsel, deliver office cleaning services, source security guards and provide platforms for creative professionals to compete for design projects. And this is just the beginning.

With consumers captivated by the convenience and immediacy of on-demand offerings, many suggest the real-time provisioning and fulfillment of goods and services through on-demand platforms is the future of commerce. Is your company taking advantage of this latest economic boom?

In companies where limited budgets or lighter workloads don’t justify keeping certain specialized skill sets on staff, on-demand service providers are an attractive option when it comes to augmenting their workforces.

Outside service providers and professional advisors allow employers to readily tap into specialized talent and resources without the expense of hiring an additional employee and associated overhead costs. So whether you need to quickly staff up to fulfill an order on time, need an experienced writer to develop web copy, or need someone to step in because your receptionist called in sick, you can be sure there’s an app for that.

The on-demand model has the potential to fundamentally change the way companies interact with customers, but before you jump in there are a few precautions.

Some startups focus their services regionally, so before getting too far down the road, make sure a company operates in your area. Each staff sourcing app offers unique features and specializes in different skill sets, so do your homework to determine which best matches your need.

Finally, many apps allow users to evaluate individual service providers. Take the opportunity to review a person’s feedback before engaging them. Adopting a new business model can be daunting, but if the on-demand economy is truly the future of commerce, reacting early to this shift may be a smart move.

John W. Allen is president and COO of G&A Partners  of Houston.