Q: IoT services like on-demand deliveries and mobile workforce seem to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue. What’s the current state of the movement; and, in a perfect world, where do you see it progressing?
A: There’s no doubt we’re trending toward a world where increased convenience, autonomy and flexibility reign supreme. Every 3out of 10 American workers are employed by the gig economy, more than 22.4 million consumers use on-demand services, annual spending is nearly $58 billion, and new ways to live the convenient ‘on-demand life’ pop up every day. Soon, on-demand services will expand into new industries and become the norm. Healthcare will be brought to your doorstep both for you and your pets; a mechanic will come to your house to provide any maintenance on your as opposed to taking it to a garage and waiting for hours.
Sounds like the perfect system, right? Unfortunately, companies are currently operating in individual, inefficient silos versus an overarching network of resources. While a number of companies that offer on-demand services, most do so through an over capacity of resources which in turn create more waste than necessary. Eventually, these companies will optimize their own resources through the use of a dynamic optimized scheduling technology connecting their service to a network that ensures resources are used efficiently for the good of our society and consumers. And no – the goal is not to create a feel good, “kumbaya” world, but simply one where we allow sophisticated technology to help us make more efficient and intelligent decisions.
Q: How long will it take for companies involved to implement and adopt a connected, IoT system?
A: If companies decided they wanted to do this, we could be there in the next five years. When you remove the autonomous aspects – for example, assume delivery cars still have drivers and drones are not en-mass yet – all the necessary technology is in place already. It is the will of companies and entrepreneurs to do what is right that is lacking.
Q: What roadblocks — obvious or unexpected — exist when it comes to merging IoT services?
A: Since life on-demand emerged out of the need for convenience, efficiency never topped the list of company priorities. As a result, the backend infrastructure of smart IoT technologies are grossly underdeveloped, creating systematic inefficiencies which hold us back as a society from truly realizing an intelligent, “smart” future.
Currently, gig-companies are focused on capturing short term market share without any regard to backend waste. While this may seem like a winning proposition, this will come back to haunt them at some point as it is not sustainable. As IoT becomes increasingly intertwined with these services, updated infrastructure will become critical to tip the scales into the era of life on-demand.
Companies like Uber, PostMates, and GrubHub must rethink their backend infrastructure to be able to continue executing on this convenience. The 'sharing economy' model was interesting and nice to use to get ahead, but it's time to think long term and manage resources efficiently and fairly. This includes the resources (i.e. people) that enable these companies to be successful. And no, using the so called ‘sharing economy’ is not answering that. Data shows us the introduction of Uber and Lyft has not reduced the number of cars on the road – and in fact, might have had the opposite effect.
Q: How critical is infrastructure when it comes to services like on-demand, last mile delivery and transportation?
A: Services are currently growing unchecked, and a much faster rate than legacy infrastructure can support. This is causing inefficiencies the general public does not yet understand such as congestion, pollution, and underpaid workers. When planning or contemplating a new on-demand service, companies need consider how many vehicles, personnel and other resources are truly necessary to fulfill that demand – and then use only that number.
Q: Infrastructure and overall inefficiencies are difficult to connect with on the individual level. Why should consumers care? How will this affect them in the future?
A: Our society claims to be a more aware than we were a generation ago. Discussions of global warming, healthcare, and other “big ticket” concerns are in the news every day. And yet, as consumers, we seem to give little thought to the fact there are too many cars driving around, burning gas, creating emissions and congestion all for the sake of picking up a passenger or delivering your food so you don’t have to grab it yourself.
It is nice to be on the receiving side of an on-demand delivery, but we need to start thinking about the other side of this – the fulfillment side. If the company you receive a delivery from does not employ the driver or control their schedule, rather rely on a driver willing to accept the ‘gig’ with an app, more drivers than necessary will be roaming the streets with empty cars waiting to fulfill an order. If we want to achieve a truly on-demand economy that is actually beneficial to all, we need to come to the decision to become more efficient as a society.