When people think of Uber, they usually think about cars taking you from place to place using a high-tech app that creates a new, better experience. Not coincidentally, the word “uber” means, in German: above all, over everything, simply the best.
They live up to the name, but not just because the experience from getting from place to place is “uber,” it’s also because the model of how they employ and deploy people and cars is “uber” too.
Twenty years ago, could you have imagined a car service company that could deliver the kind of instant, on-demand, hassle-free, smell-free experience without owning any cars or employing full-time staff? If you consider other disruptors, they follow a similar model. For example, Alibaba, the world’s most valuable retailer, owns no inventory. Airbnb, the world’s largest provider of accommodations, owns no real estate. And Facebook, media maven, owns no content.
The speed, accuracy, technology and connectivity of everything make that possible. This is part of the new sharing economy allowing nonperforming assets to be turned into cash. Cars, homes, people’s time and talent, if it’s sitting idle, someone probably needs it now, and you can find that person. The sharing economy is quickly becoming the “stuff on demand” economy.
These models have spun off all kinds of startup models that cater to the on-demand economy at the touch of a mobile app. DUFL will pack your suitcase. Washio will do your laundry. Shyp will pick up packages and mail them.
The other side of “stuff on demand” is “jobs on demand.” A recent study by KPCB indicates that the Ubers, Etsys, eBays and Airbnbs are enabling a new kind of freelancing experience. They estimate that 34 percent of the U.S. workforce freelances in some way, and the number is growing thanks to the ability to find work easier than ever before.
What might this mean for the insurance industry?