In my last Digigram, I wrote about XaaS and wondered what would be next for this trend. Since then, I have concluded that XaaS includes much more than only technology platforms that virtualize assets in value chains: XaaS covers how we work and conduct business today, and how we consume modern products and services.
New work = Gig economy = Work as a Service
We all agree that companies such as Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, Upwork, and WeWork disrupted the value chains and asset distribution in many industries. Like it or loathe it – the fact is that these models fit the way many people live their lives today. Both as consumers of services (e.g., getting even small items delivered by Amazon or bike couriers instead of going to a store) or as a provider of services (e.g., teaching via the internet or contracting via Upwork). The megatrends of changes in life- and work styles are what enabled the XaaS phenomenon in the first place. Especially Gen Ys love both sides of XaaS! It provides them the flexible lifestyle they prefer as consumers, and it allows them to work as professionals when and where they want.
I recently met the company Tipalti who solve the “last mile” of the gig economy: They provide a platform-as-a-service to handle payments to freelancers across 190 countries and in 120 currencies, including the correct handling of tax and documentation for all participants. This is an impressive service and solves a critical problem. It is, of course, also slightly ironic that we now have a B2B gig economy supporting the B2C and C2C gig economies!
New innovation = Crowdsourcing = Ideas & validation as a Service
All agile ways of working, such as design thinking, scrum, and lean startup, have one thing in common: Observing and obtaining feedback from real users is vital. Never ever develop a new product or consider a product ready for sale without first soliciting input from the crowd. Today’s users and consumers are very able and willing to give input and to participate in trials and tests that aim to answer questions during innovation projects. And some now even make this their careers: Ideas or customer validation for hire as a service. I attended the Crowdsourcing Week conference in San Francisco at the invitation of its founder, Epi Ludvik Nekaj. I have been a fan of working with “the crowd” for a long time, and the conference really opened my eyes in just how many ways crowdsourcing can now be applied and how technology platforms (and the gig economy!) facilitate the process.
Two examples: You can order Hackathons as a service from Agorize who already brought together more than a million people to solve challenges for customers. How I wish they had been around during my startup promotion times at Startzentrum Zurich and BlueLion Incubator! Crowd services even exist for the newest and coolest of disciplines, data science. Mathesia has more than 3000 vetted experts who can be hired as a service to solve mathematical and data science problems. It is very hard to hire data scientists today! This as-a-service offering is an excellent alternative. Also, the results seem to speak for themselves: Mathesia claim that their service accelerates projects 3x and saves costs compared to traditional external contracting or in-house projects. No doubt, when you look at XaaS in the light of the crowd and the Gig economy, it starts making even more sense, it touches even more areas of our private and working lives and it has endless potential.