The Internet is a complete revolution and we have not yet fully realized it. The history of the Internet is recent and sometimes we lose the perspective that twenty years ago it was not possible to communicate with almost anyone in the world instantly, wherever they are.
Thanks to the Internet, we now have a new paradigm that many people call 'on-demand service ' or “on-demand businesses”. What does this mean? Faced with a specific need, we can cover it through a digital platform where we are contacted by thousands of people who offer this service. Let's see examples and consequences of this new form of service.
The most successful examples of the on-demand services
There are a few digital services that are the biggest exponents of this on-demand service. Perhaps the most famous (for its aggressive policy of reaching countries) is Uber. It is so representative that the low-demand economy is also called the 'uberification' of society.
Uber is basically a taxi service. The difference is that private individuals offer their car for trips instead of official taxis. What Uber allows is to instantly put people who need to go from one place to another with people who are willing to take them in their car for an amount (which is logically less than that of an official taxi). In this way, people get the cheapest service and the service providers can make their free time profitable.
Another very characteristic example is Airbnb. Basically it is a service that allows you to rent a sofa, room or apartment on a temporary (or holiday) basis. People like this can make their properties profitable in a simple way. Along the way they compete with hotels.
There are many more examples, although perhaps Uber and Airbnb are the most common as they attract attention from sectors with considerable influence in the media and politicians. There are other on-demand app development solutions for taxi applications that do something similar to Uber.
We also have BlaBlaCar as a vehicle sharing for trips between cities (competing with the bus) or Shipper for sending packages. Or also TaskRabbit, which allows you to request services such as babysitting, removals, cleaning or making an arrangement at home.
The role of past data for on-demand service in the new business ventures?
A big question we can ask ourselves is whether the on-demand service is important or is it a relatively small phenomenon. And you just have to look at the data provided by any of the previous companies to see that we are not facing something small but quite the opposite and also with great growth.
Take Airbnb for example. As of December 2014, it had more than a million listings, more than any hotel in the world (IHG has almost 700,000 and Marriot aims to exceed one million in 2015). Yes, it is true, Airbnb accommodations are not owned but are simply listed, but it does not diminish importance. If we want to book accommodation it is a very attractive option. And their sales do not stop growing.
In 2011 Airbnb announced that they had made the 1 million reservation. In 2014 they already spoke of 11 million reservations. And today it is estimated that they are going at a rate of 37 million a year. And let's not forget that they are 17% of the hotel supply in New York, 12% in Paris or 10% in London. They are an important player in the hotel sector and it is based on putting private properties to work.
Uber's data is somewhat more closed but also significant. It is a company that began in 2009 and the last round of financing valued it at 40,000 million dollars. And it is estimated that by the end of this year it will be billing 10 billion dollars, with an annual growth of 300%.
Another example of the importance of the economy on-demand is the data from Blablacar. A few days ago they bought two competitors, Carpooling and AutoHop. With these two acquisitions, Blablacar will be present in 18 countries and will have 20 million users. In other words, there are 20 million people who have used or regularly use a car-sharing service on intercity trips. It is, of course, something significant.
The role of on-demand apps/services in the society?
This on-demand service is changing our society, little by little. The first thing is that all these services require individual people to perform tasks in their free time (which can be all day, let's not forget). Therefore, they feed the freelancers which gives them an alternate to earn extra than their regular income.
If the on-demand services continue to grow as we are seeing, there will be an increasingly important number of freelancers who carry out these tasks. And we are not talking about 'fake freelancers' but real ones, who offer their services directly to a high number of clients on a regular basis.
Therefore, the current model of working for a company that provides services for end customers may disappear (or be relegated to certain sectors). Workers could provide their services directly to end users without large infrastructures as the Internet simplifies this.
The usual channels of a freelancer (store, marketing, etc.) could be relegated to an online presence, where prestige (fate, votes, comments, opinions) is the important thing.