Kindly Care Raises $4.5 for Caregiver Marketplace

Kindly Care is taking a marketplace approach (e.g. “the Uber of…”) to home caregiving. This is a category ripe for the on-demand approach. Like Uber, Kindly Care will take 20 percent to 25 percent of hourly wages and handle all the financial transactions and tax “arrangements,” which seems to hint at tapping Medicare and other programs for payment.

Now, another startup in the space, three-year-old, San Francisco-based Kindly Care, is taking more of a marketplace approach, pairing vetted caregivers with families who need them, then helping both sides manage their financial and tax arrangements by acting as their back-office provider.

Source: Kindly Care scores $5.4 million to vet and place caregivers, then help families pay them correctly | TechCrunch

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BMW’s Seattle On-Demand Ride Service Goes FTE

BMW’s new ReachNow Seattle-centered service experiment turns on quality and differentiation of service. But it also will use full-time employees contracted from a local vendor. Differentiation of service relies on more than commodity workers, it involves an eye for customer preferences — ReachNow includes in-app preferences, such as “Quiet ride” and air temperature. These preferences are expected to justify a higher price, yet they depend on a human to do the work of changing the air conditioning and tuning the radio.

In non-driving settings, workers add far more value and will eventually be treated as providing value and not solely a commodity service. This move represents a decision to have trained, familiar employees represent a brand. That can be accomplished in an on-demand arrangement with workers, too. It’s just a matter of time and economic conditions.

BMW is contracting them from a company called Ecoservice, according to The Seattle Times. While Uber and Lyft incentivize drivers to make as many trips as possible, with pay coming from a cut of each fare and bonus opportunities tied to overall volume of rides given, the ReachNow ride-hailing sounds like it will emphasize quality over quantity. Drivers are paid $14.25 per hour and have set shifts, will be eligible for benefits, and can even bring in a 5 percent bonus each week if their rating stays between

Source: BMW is testing an Uber competitor in Seattle – The Verge

How To Win The 95 Percent Of Retail Amazon Doesn’t Own

Amazon has captured half of U.S. e-commerce revenue, according to eMarketer. Not coincidentally, Jeff Bezos became the richest living human the same week.

So what’s left to do with online sales? Almost everything. Jeff Bezos knows this, which is why he pushes Amazon into so many new markets. There is, however, a limit to virtual trust. Bhaskar Chakravorti, Dean, Global Business and Founding Executive Director, at The Fletcher School of Tufts University, wrote at the World Economic Forum in January:

As the boundaries of the digital world expand, and more people become familiar with internet technologies and systems, their distrust will grow. As a result, companies seeking to enjoy consumer trust will need to invest in becoming more trustworthy more widely around the globe. Those that do will likely see a competitive advantage, winning more loyalty from customers.

Brands will be trusted when they are part of the consumer’s community, and that will include their local physical community. Having people on the ground and participating in local events, fund-raising, and improvement projects will help to convert skepticism into trust, but it is the salesperson who will close and support most of the transactions that typify offline commerce.

The challenge is how to get enough salespeople into the local market. Hiring full-time reps is prohibitively expensive, so flexible sales networks will be built instead.

Selling is an extraordinarily hard part of economic life that as many as one-in-five workers do to generate the revenue that pays the rest of us. Gaining access to consumers, getting them to trust and open up to share what they want or need, and moving them along to making a purchase takes time, money, patience, and enthusiasm that the hardest working engineer could hardly bear. And selling is changing.

Amazon.com’s First Home Page

Amazon’s growth, from early e-commerce pioneer with $511,000 in revenue after 17 months to $177.8 billion in 2017, has always turned on its success in bringing new products to market through digital channels. Product managers, now frequently assisted by machine learning tools, have had to find ways to communicate and sell remotely. Amazon is so big it can’t put all its marketers in one city.

But in recent years, Amazon has purchased physical retailer Whole Foods and opened bookstores, grocery pick-up, and automated grocery stores to establish a physical relationship with consumers. One of the rumors heard at the Direct Selling Association meeting last month: Amazon has been asking direct selling companies how they build their networks. 

Retail is under the gun from e-commerce, and Amazon is certain to claim more share from physical stores. As commerce becomes more intimate and socially driven — which, as we’ve seen in the past two years, is a fraught road for brands, politicians, and celebrities — a human face representing brands and local businesses will become a trusted interface. They need tools and training to be successful, but people are the key to extending the growth of online markets into physical neighborhoods.

The myriad small businesses growing in the gig economy now are the bricks out of which retail market share will be rebuilt. Loosely connected, mobile-enabled salespeople can take sales relationships almost anywhere. Sales will migrate to gig models as full-time and part-time compensation and benefits converge.

Online sales now total approximately 10 percent of all U.S. consumer revenue. If, over the next decade, Amazon doubles or even triples its revenues, well over 80 percent of the market will be up for grabs each day. 

How Gig Economy Consolidation Happens

Postmates is working with Instacart, a competitor, to deliver groceries in the Bay Area during peak-demand times. Here are two home delivery companies, who probably have overlapping workforces (many giggers use several marketplaces to keep work flowing) with largely unique customer bases (if standard brand thinking holds and consumers do gravitate to single-brand relationships for convenience and to simplify their decision-making.

Postmates, obviously, has offered delivery-as-a-resolve for merchants and brands since its inception, and some of those brands, such as Walmart, offer their own delivery services. But this marks the first time that Postmates has offered delivery-as-a-service to a business that itself is already a delivery service. – TechCrunch

At some point, apparently this week in the Bay Area where all this gigging started, marketplace platform companies run into the unavailability of human resources when they have consumer demand for those resources. Then, they will start to partner to find local people to do similar services, as Instacart has with Postmates. Now that they began a financial relationship Instacart will likely explore acquisition to improve margins in the geographies where delivery services are in highest demand. The Bay Area is just the first example of the emerging trend in deilvery, but it will spread to other on-demand segments.

Logistics services, mass transport-scale driver-manned or autonomous vehicles, and a variety of home-focused services will discover improved profitability — and deliver their service at lower prices — through mergers & acquisitions. One bet about which I’m confident is that local selling capabilities will be distributed to , for example, as brands seek influential sellers who can sell their communities products and services.

Just imagine the mind-bending antitrust questions that will come up as the personalized relationship with consumers could be monopolized by a platform.

Source: Instacart taps Postmates to help with deliveries in SF during peak demand | TechCrunch

Gigging Gains Influence At Full Employment

Gig work is gaining credibility, according to Inc.com, and it is changing the expectations for regular full-time employees who see the flexibility of gig work as a benefit they would like to use, too. As I’ve written for Gig Economy Group, every company faces new demands from workers, ranging from workplace flexibility using excellent technical tools to moral and environmental alignment between the employee’s views and those of the company.

Customers set the stage for change in product and services when their expectations evolve and the same goes for workers and the shape of employment. Flexible, well-paid jobs will come, though it will take firm organizing on the part of labor to drive this change home.

“Now, with the economy in better shape and unemployment rates at a low, it’s an employee’s job market. Companies are starting to realize that to compete with non-traditional jobs, they have to start paying competitively, offering flexible schedules, and actually listening to what employees want. That puts employees in a position to be selective about the gigs they pick up, the hours they work, and the people they work with–and it’s an exciting time for companies to take advantage of that shift.”

Source: How the Rise of the Gig Economy Is Boosting the Social Status of Temp and Flex Workers | Inc.com

Autonomous Economy? Not So Much, Yet

Eager to replace people your business processes? Uber is reconsidering its approach to autonomous vehicles after racing ahead with the project in Pittsburgh, the Bay Area, and Arizona, where a fatal accident with an Uber car raised serious safety questions. The company is laying off 100 autonomous car operators after one of them was found to be streaming The Voice during the deadly collision in Tempe earlier this year. However, many of the operators will be retained in other roles, so that Uber doesn’t lose their experience during the trials. Uber isn’t quitting, it’s rethinking how to provide autonomous transportation.

After an Uber self-driving car fatally struck a pedestrian in Tempe, Ariz., in March, Uber paused testing of its experimental vehicles on public roads. On Wednesday, it laid off approximately 100 autonomous vehicle operators.

Here’s the question for all companies thinking about automation: When is it appropriate to put your brand entirely in machine hands? I’d argue the answer is “Never.” People are essential. They add so much to the customer engagement that simple savings on staffing cannot justify their wholesale replacement. In sales, service, and transportation, people represent brands and deal with the unexpected.

The right way to use machine learning for the foreseeable future is to augment people with information, guidance, and inspiration, not to drop them from the customer equation.

Source: Uber Layoffs Signal Hard Look at Public AV Testing

The Gig Economy Is Bigger Than We Admit

Quartz@Work provides a solid analysis of why the United States cannot agree on how many gig workers it has, which I’ve covered elsewhere. The Bureau of Labor Statistics counts only people who dedicate themselves to gig work, not the millions who work a side gig along with a main job.  The Federal Reserve gets the numbers more right than the BLS.

PwC partner Mike Boro summarizes: 

There’s no question that the gig economy is changing the way we work. In today’s complex business environment, it’s not enough to focus only on your own staff. Contractors and freelancers who supplement your workforce need to be a key factor as well—no matter what the numbers say.

Source: The gig economy is bigger than US government data makes it look

Gallup Intros The Real Future of Work” Magazine

Gallup, the surveying organization, has launched an intriguing new publication, The Real Future of Work. A data-intensive publication, the first issue addresses European workers’ sense that they will be able to keep up with automation and how workplace assessment programs align with corporate and personal goals. 

The publication is worth downloading for its clear charts explaining national variations on worker confidence. Notably, like many parts of the world, companies are not seen as reliable venues for personal development. For example, only 32 percent of Britons feel they have worthwhile growth opportunities with their current company while 42 percent of French and 60 percent of German workers anticipate career growth in their current company.

Better management is needed, Gallup concludes. At GEG, we think better managers need better data that looks beyond results to leading indicators in order to analyze the resources workers are offered. Great employees with great tools will change management’s role to one of collaborative guidance in which workers develop innovations in customer experience.

Meta-Management: Getting Data for Machine Learning Right

You will not be able to anticipate everything you will want to learn from a large body of data at first. Starting with a well-documented, flexible metadata model for your content and other data assets will ensure that the learning systems can understand new information in context and, with less work than starting with completely unstructured data, start identifying unrecognized patterns. CIO has a good basic outline:

There are four distinct metadata categories to look at if you want to ensure that you’re delivering comprehensive, relevant and accurate data to implement AI:

  1. Technical metadata – includes database tables and column information as well as statistical information about the quality of the data.
  2. Business metadata – defines the business context of the data as well as the business processes in which it participates.
  3. Operational metadata – information about software systems and process execution, which, for example, will indicate data freshness.
  4. Usage metadata – information about user activity including data sets accessed, ratings and comments.
    Source: Effective artificial intelligence requires a healthy diet of data

Robots need not apply for salesclerk jobs | CMO Strategy – Ad Age

Machine Learning will augment people in a variety of sales settings. AdAge talks about the role of AI in retail in this article. An in-home sales or service provider will also be supported by computer intelligence. For example, a rep will be able to capture customer feedback and personalize recommendations. The article reports that robots strike 32 percent of customers “creepy.” But the invisible AI in a mobile app will make the rep appear smarter and more empathetic than ever.

“We often tend to see AIs as bots to replace people,” says Eric Gervet, partner in the retail and digital transformation practices of A.T. Kearney, a global strategy and management consulting firm. “It’s also very much about fueling people with insights so they can do their jobs better.”

Source: Robots need not apply for salesclerk jobs | CMO Strategy – Ad Age