In a riveting keynote at the Gig Work Summit, Kashyap Deorah CEO at HyperTrack delves deep into the transformation of the labor market, emphasizing the role of technology in reshaping blue-collar and shift labor. Drawing from real-time examples, Kashyap highlights the transition of various industries towards gig work and how technology-driven solutions like HyperTrack are enabling this shift.
Drawing parallels from the e-commerce evolution, the talk offers insights into what both gig workers and their customers desire and how businesses are evolving to meet these demands.
To review the keynote, dive into the following transcript, which has been edited for clarity. If you prefer a visual experience, catch the video on demand as we explore into the future of gig work and the pivotal role of technology in reshaping labor in today's world.
These are the are key moments during the keynote:
- Introduction to the Gig Work Landscape watch the video here
- Field Service Management and the On-Demand Workforce: A Revolution Sparked by Ride-Sharing watch the video here
- Unpacking the Era of Field Service Management and Gig Work as On-demand Jobs watch the video here
- Insights from E-Commerce: Parallels in Gig Work watch the video here
- Embracing Technology in Gig Work and Field Service Management watch the video here
Introduction to the Gig Work Landscape
“The power of the internet is finally reaching the labor market. I think that's the revolutionary thing that's happening.“
Thank you for the introduction, it's really hard to speak into a screen without seeing people. But I'm getting used to this format. And it was a fantastic talk by Fritz. Thank you so much. How often do you see successful entrepreneurs share their journey with a roomful of people, including many who might compete with him in the same market space. Now, it's really phenomenal. And, look, we're all in this as one community, and something transformational is happening in the world right now. Something revolutionary is happening in the world right now. And we're all part of it. That's the reason I believe we're all here at the Gig Work Summit, we have a common mission. So I'm going to talk a bit about that. And, you know, some of you are the reason why this revolution is happening. So let's jump right in.
Revolutionary Shift: The Internet's Power Illuminates the Labor Market
The power of the internet is finally reaching the labor market. I think that's the revolutionary thing that's happening.
But before I talk about that, specifically, I want to zoom back out and go to the beginning of the internet, right.
The Dawn of Gig Work: Tracing the Internet's Impact on Modern Labor
1993 is when the public Internet came to be about three decades ago. From the start, you know, one of the superpowers of the internet is that it levels the playing field with online marketplaces, its power to create marketplaces, feedstock, a whole bunch about that two sided two sided marketplaces, how he looks at Zenjob as a two sided marketplace. So you're short circuiting the connection between consumer and supplier, right using the internet.
Democratizing Market Access
This is my fourth company. It's my fourth startup. And each startup so far has been about democratizing market access in some vertical using this power of the internet.
So when it comes to the labor market, right, let's zoom in again, you borrow from Fritz's playbook of focus, focus focus, I couldn't agree more on the power of focus, and zooming in. So now from the internet, as a marketplace, I want to zoom into the labor market.
Gig Work in Early Internet Days
You know, in the early days of the Internet, there were marketplaces for, for what you might call gig work. But there was for software engineers to take on projects, for designers to take on logos for lawyers to take on cases, you know, the writers could write pieces. So you could take on projects one gig at a time and get paid per gig, right? And let's call these classes of workers, white collar workers, for lack of a better word.
Limitation to White-Collar Workers
But then why is it that the same power of the internet did not reach all workers, right? Even after three decades, it was restricted to the white collar workers. What about the blue collar workers, those who are making things happen out in the real world, or as digital citizens and digital nomads might call them offline workers.
So the internet level the playing field, for services that could be delivered online, digitally, but left alone services that are offline. And that's changing now. So the question I want all of you to ask yourself is why now you know, what changed? Why not before?
So today, the goal of my talk is to share with you my perspective and HyperTrack perspective on that very topic. So now, I'm going to fast forward 15 years from the beginning of the public Internet, right 15 years from 1993. or rewind 15 years from the current day ends up being the same midpoint of the three decades of the internet.
Field Service Management and the On-Demand Workforce: A Revolution Sparked by Ride-Sharing
So the year is 2008. Get yourself back to that year. We all started carrying mobile phones and smartphones in our pockets. These phones had apps in them that knew where we were, they knew our location with our permission, of course.
And then came this one app where customers could press a button and get a ride. It matched your location with that of nearby drivers, one of them showed up and took you from one location to the other location.
It was technology matching locations to route, then dispatch, and then validate that it all got done all in real time. All using technology, like magic, you know, not dissimilar from the magic moment that Fritz was describing in his talk. He was on the phone with the retailer. And he said, You know, I want five workers on the weekend. And he said, Can I you know, they're available now I can send them to you now. And he's like, What are you talking about? What kind of goodwill is this? Right, so we all experienced that moment, you know, 2008 onward. So the customer pressed a button to make something happen now. Now, most of us as consumers, right, we're focused on that as the magic moment.
Rise of the Gig Worker
“The power of online marketplaces became [evident] offline. And live location is what bridged that gap between offline and online”
But an equally if not more profound shift, and magic moment was that it created a new class of workers. The gig work community, who now had an online marketplace while doing things offline in the real world, and making money per gig, in this case, making money per ride.
So this is a new class of workers, the gig worker, they either did this for a living, that was all they did, or they did multiple such things for a living, write multiple apps, or they just did this on the side while doing something else as their day job or doing something else in their life. And the worker could now switch on and off work as they pleased. And turns out all of this ran on technology, like very little human operation, you had a few humans in this big hall in San Francisco that could stare at a big screen, and intervene if something went awry. But for the most part, everything ran on technology. Now turns out, this actually became a metaphor for all of E commerce.
At the time, I was immersed in retail and E commerce, and sold the company to a large retailer. And we were always talking about how offline and online commerce will converge. Right. And, you know, from the retail industry, from the hospitality industry, we've heard the metaphor would come but it came from the ride sharing and mobility industry.
But just the same thing started happening with customers ordering food, ordering groceries and ordering all kinds of products and services, right. And that started, you know, with ride sharing, and then became the on demand economy that became ubiquitous over the next decade or so. So the customer and the worker both had apps on which they tap some buttons online. Location technology orchestrated things in real time. And the universe conspired to make things happen offline, right.
So the power of online marketplaces now got offline. And live location is what bridged that gap between offline and online. And the way things evolved, you know, very few very well funded companies. If you look back at that decade of VC funding, about 50% of all VC funding in the world was directed towards on demand consumer on demand apps. So all these on demand apps invested heavily in technology of the kind I'm talking about. And they had this as an asymmetric advantage, you know, very large market. Now, one person's asymmetry is another person's opportunity, especially on the internet, right? It's a democratic, open opportunity platform.
Democratizing the Workforce Technology
So some of us have HyperTrack garden ideas, saying, how about we use the power of the Internet to level that playing field? Right. So we took many years to carefully craft the stack with a lot of love, a lot of effort, a lot of focus, a lot of saying no, a lot of going deeper into something failing, trying it over again. Our mission was to let builders have products and businesses fulfill their imagination and express themselves and build what they wanted with our API's, as it relates to the gig economy and to the on demand economy.
Two Sides of the Coin - Gig Work and On-Demand Jobs
“Gig work and on demand are actually two sides of the same coin. Really, if you think about it, from the customers lens, it's on demand service, from the workers lens. It's gig work.”
So gig work and on demand are actually two sides of the same coin. Really, if you think about it, from the customers lens, it's on demand from the workers lens. It's gig work.
They spend some seconds on that. So for customers, you know, you take a previously difficult task like Fritz was busy. I've been getting them stopped for, you know, getting gig workers. And it's now become a press of a button online, leading to things that start to happen in the real world. So I'm calling that on demand.
From Full-time to On-the-Go
And for workers, something that was previously a full time job or contracted hourly labor to a staffing agency, is also now press of a button online, you press a button, and real world jobs start showing up on your digital device, right?
I'm calling that gig work. So we built this technology at HyperTrack. We put it on the internet, obviously expecting that any company that was trying to compete with these on demand apps, these big on demand apps would use our tech across ecommerce verticals and around the world. And lo and behold, that happened, the consumer part of on demand happened on HyperTrack, but a bigger trend started happening, we discovered a larger phenomenon that was happening under the surface, right? So if you think about the number of gig workers delivering, riding, sharing, delivering food groceries in the US as a benchmark, you know, it'd be 15-20 million people.
The Current State of Blue-Collar and Shift Labor
But the hourly and shift labor, the blue collar labor market is about 70 million people or so.
So what we started seeing totally by chance is a lot of our users, the high value users, fast growing users, the kind who asked for features and not discounts, right? The ones you love, they love your tech can't live without it. They came from industries that were not obvious. You know, for us looking ahead.
Expansion of the Gig Economy
On the surface gig workers were delivering rides, foods and food and groceries but under the surface, every industry, hourly labor, offline workers, field workers, were getting reorganized into gig work.
From a customer standpoint, it's not just consumers, but even businesses, you know, small, medium, large businesses. They wanted to press a button and make things happen on their time. Get me a staffing you know get me staffing for those jobs by the weekend.
Diverse Roles in the Gig Economy
Light industrial workers, factory workers, warehouse workers suck floor safety inspectors, equipment operators. Heavy Industry workers think about energy construction, safety and security. Hospitality workers, cooks, bartenders, dishwashers, servers, cashiers, stadium security healthcare workers at home nurses, hospice, phlebotomists opticians, pharmacists, automotive workers, vehicle movers, repair technicians, tire replacement, vehicle servicing test drives, public utility workers, you know electricity, power, cable, internet; of course, household service workers come to mind your basement repair, locksmiths, cleaning services, the list goes on and on.
So you know some of you might think I pulled a list from some industry report to impress you. This is a list of all the gig workers who are currently on HyperTrack. There are 2 million gig workers in America alone right now with apps on their phones with HyperTrack in it. I tell my team 68 million more to go and hundreds of millions more worldwide. And it's not just online marketplaces connecting businesses with workers right if you think about it, the businesses themselves who might be purchasing gig labor, have their own field workforce, both full time and recurring staff. They need to manage their workforce better given the illusion of customers going on demand.
Unpacking Field Service Management in the Era of Gig Work and On-demand Jobs
"More businesses are going through more digital transformation as we speak for their field service management tech. The plan-assign-validate work through technology similar to the on demand economy."
So more businesses are going through more digital transformation as we speak for their field service management tech. The plan-assign-validate work through technology similar to the on demand economy.
So before I dive a little deeper into that I want to segue into as more businesses are becoming online marketplaces as far as labor markets are concerned, and it's about connecting customers with workers – with the supply. Let's take a pause and understand what workers want and what customers want, right and just get into their head a little bit more.
Understanding the On-Demand Workforce: Desires and Demands
Let me start with what gig workers want. Because ultimately, you have the two primary participants of the marketplace. And everything in between is the value chain in service of those participants. So I was talking to an entrepreneur who runs an online labor marketplace, where customers can connect with workers and pay per gig. She was a retail gig worker herself when she started her early career. And she said, Look, blue collar workers want the same things that white collar workers want, right?
Empowerment and Meritocracy in the Gig Economy
“So you have the workers have the power to choose what they're worth, and the flexibility to work when they choose.”
So first of all, you want to make a living, you make a buck, really, you want to, you want respect, you want dignity, you want flexibility. And to borrow what Fritz segwayed was the focus for Zenjob both on the customer side and on the GIG side, worker side, you want flexibility, that means you want to be treated fairly, you want to get paid commensurate with value. You want to experience the power of meritocracy. Your price tag is not a fixed hourly rate that some staffing agency has decided. It's what the job is worth, and the quality with which you get it done. And the power to choose what you do. So you have the workers have the power to choose what they're worth, and the flexibility to work when they choose.
You want flexibility, that means you want to be treated fairly, you want to get paid commensurate with value. You want to experience the power of meritocracy. Your price tag is not a fixed hourly rate that some staffing agency has decided. It's what the job is worth, and the quality with which you get it done. And the power to choose what you do. So you have the workers have the power to choose what they're worth, and the flexibility to work when they choose. So that's really what flexibility entails here.
Now let's move to the customer side of things, right? The customer of gig work and labor is usually a business small, medium, or large, who's servicing another customer who might also be servicing another customer. So to really get into the psyche of what customers want. I'm actually going to lean into a metaphor from retail and ecommerce, but I spent a whole bunch of time you know, more than a decade and which was the genesis of HyperTrack.
Insights from E-Commerce: Parallels in Gig Work
“What used to be the backend, right fulfillment, logistics supply chain, all labor power, is now becoming the front end(…)It's the reason customers choose to buy from one or the other.”
So the top ecommerce company, you know, Jeff Bezos, in his shareholder letters, talks about these three pillars of E commerce, Sam Walton, the top retailer in the world, talks about the same three pillars in retail. What do shoppers want, price selection and convenience. These are the three things that we shoppers want. And the first 15 years of the internet, right, it felt like price and selection were the differentiators for E commerce. So if you think about it, if you get the right product at the right price. Convenience was table stakes, you could wait two weeks a month to get your merchandise, right if you found the right thing at the right price. When the next 15 is the internet, something profound happened with the on demand economy, all your offline retail merchants small and large with their inventory went online. And all your workforce also went online. That ended up commoditizing price and selection. And what emerged at the top was convenience. And I believe a similar phenomenon is happening across industries and across the world.
Fulfillment & Logistics Shift
In other words, what used to be the backend, right fulfillment, logistics supply chain, all labor power, is now becoming the front end. It's becoming the differentiator. It's the reason customers choose to buy from one or the other. And across industries that rely on labor for making this happen.
The ability to manage that work appropriately through tech is emerging to be the top differentiator. So the internet with marketplaces, coming to the labor market. Now, finally, and within the labor market, the power of technology to drive managing a fork is what's emerging as a key differentiator. Again, back to what Fritz said, they have a lot of focus on automation. That's one of the parts of the flywheel that runs the engine. I believe more companies will invest more in technology going forward. Which brings me to my last slide.
Embracing Technology in Gig Work and Field Service Management
"So in this new world order with gig workers you're growing at Tech scale, and that means you have to invest more in technology. "
So in this new world order with gig workers you're growing at Tech scale, and that means you have to invest more in technology.
So whether it's scheduled jobs involving full time employees, like before the your sort of existing work, whether it's short term projects involving recurring contracts, or it's gig work involving on demand labor, technology automation to plan, assign, validate work is a must have now So customers get more demanding about making things happen in their time and place, workers are seeking more flexibility to do things in their time in place. Businesses connecting the world's two worlds are becoming online marketplaces really. And they need to get more efficient through technology automation.
Shift from Human to Tech Power
“The operations management layer for Field Service is shifting from human power to technology powered”
So to be more clear, the operations management layer for Field Service is shifting from human power to technology powered, freeing up the humans to do smarter things.
And we're all here in service of building more efficiently growing businesses that give our customers what they want, of course, and more importantly, give, you know, make lives better for the workers who make it happen for us in the real world. So let's join hands today and unleash the power of the Internet to gig workers. That moment has finally come. Thanks very much for joining us at the Gig Work Summit. It's your Summit, you've made this possible!