The Continuing Evolution of the On-Demand Economy 


From the Wall Street Journal, Irving Wladawsky-Berger provides an excellent article about the evolution of the on-demand economy.  He reviews the evolution of the internet and writes:

“In an excellent 2013 report, industry analyst Jeremiah Owyang argues that the collaborative economy is the evolution of the Internet-based economy of the past two decades. The one-to-many Web 1.0 made lots of information accessible to individuals, but control remained mostly in the hands of institutionsIt was followed by the many-to-many Web 2.0, where individuals could easily share content and opinions with each other. Now, the on-demand phase of the Internet economy is enabling individuals to go way beyond sharing information.”

When I read this, I immediately thought of Craigslist which was basically a community bulletin board where buyers and sellers connected to exchange anything imaginable. Craigslist made money from companies who posted job openings.  It is not hard to imagine how the Craigslist idea evolved into companies like Uber — instead of a haphazard exchange of anything, a company might focus on connecting people who want rides with people who were willing to provide rides.  The company might want to protect a rider from price gouging and  provide a safe ride in a clean vehicle and it might want to ensure the driver got paid so it might impose controls on aspects of the exchange.  If you think about Uber in relation to Craigslist, it may affect your opinion on whether the drivers are employees or independent contractors.

Irving also discusses the future of the on-demand economy.  He writes:

““What sort of world will this on-demand model create?,” asks The Economist. “Pessimists worry that everyone will be reduced to the status of 19th-century dockers crowded on the quayside at dawn waiting to be hired by a contractor. Boosters maintain that it will usher in a world where everybody can control their own lives, doing the work they want when they want it. Both camps need to remember that the on-demand economy is not introducing the serpent of casual labour into the garden of full employment: it is exploiting an already casualised workforce in ways that will ameliorate some problems even as they aggravate others.”

All in all, I share Jeremiah Owyang’s optimistic point of view.  “[C]apitalism will find a solution to much of the dichotomy at the heart of the space. With time… competition will force companies to improve on worker and user rights. And it’s unclear for how long being an asset-light operation will remain an advantage, especially if and when incumbents step up their game.”…”

Read the full story at The Continuing Evolution of the On-Demand Economy – The CIO Report – WSJ

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