The on-demand economy

The internet has changed. In the early years of the dotcom boom, on-demand services failed to take off because very few people had easy access to a fast internet service – computers were typically confined to offices or family homes, online payment systems were underdeveloped and people didn’t trust anything sold online.

Fast forward to the 21st century and billions of people now have fast, reliable internet connections in their pockets, courtesy of the many mobile devices people carry today.

The convergence of the mobile internet, GPS-enabled devices and tech-inspired business models has created an explosion in on-demand services catering to almost every possible need we may have; Uber, Amazon, Airbnb. The list is endless.

>See also: The evolution of the sharing economy

This on-demand economy is changing the face of business. According to the National Technology Readiness Survey, the industry scaled to an impressive $57 billion in 2015. The Harvard Business Review has also reported that the on-demand economy is attracting more than 22.4 million consumers annually.

The report goes on to highlight that online marketplaces such as eBay and Etsy make up the largest on-demand category, accounting for US$35.5 billion of annual expenditure.

Transportation is next with US$5.6 billion in annual spending, followed by grocery delivery (US$4.6 billion annual spending), and a miscellaneous group of other services, including home services, freelancer services, and health and beauty services, which collectively account for US$11.9 billion in spending each year.

>See also: Mobile payments to digitise India’s economy

Companies like the aforementioned Amazon, Uber, and Airbnb have solved the marketplace trust issue by implementing user ratings and reviews, and cloud storage has allowed consumers to access their account details on any device, no matter where they are.

Crucially, many on-demand companies can offer their products or services cheaper than a traditional retailer. In short, a person could spend their entire day horizontal on the sofa and get all their daily tasks done with just a few taps on a smartphone. Need housework doing? Get it taken care of by a cleaner available for hire through Hassle.

If there’s office work to be done, you can find someone to take care of it for you through PayPerHour. Want to do some shopping? There are more clothes, books, and other items than you could ever possibly need on Amazon. Deliveroo will deliver a hot meal to your door, and you can get Laundrapp to deliver any laundry or dry cleaning.

>See also: How tech disrupters fuelled the sharing economy

This increasing trend poses a threat to any business in an industry in which a face-to-face transaction could be replaced by the internet. The perfect combination of GPS-enabled devices, cheaper cloud storage and technology evolutions such as the IoT will only continue the process in making everything available as-a-service.

This accelerating trend towards a comprehensive, on-demand economy puts consumers in charge and reshapes commerce. According to a recent study by research firm Crowd Companies there were more than 280 companies from 16 industries providing on-demand goods and services, up from 76 companies just two years earlier.

This is only the beginning. With omnipresent internet and the new generation of on-demand services, you can be anywhere, anytime and get almost anything with the mere tap of a button.


Sourced by Sanjeev Nikore, president – strategic initiatives, Tech Mahindra

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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