What Mega-Market Will The Internet Be The Road Into Next?e_darrellj | May 28, 2015
Here's a note on the future of work, from Upwork CEO Stepane Kasriel.
Yesterday, avid followers of internet-driven disruption dove into the annual insights feast that is Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report. 2015 marks the report’s 20th anniversary. When the report first launched in 1995, Internet usage was minimal -- only 0.6% of the global population (vs. 39% in 2014) and 9% of the U.S. population (vs. 84% in 2014) had access. E-commerce was in its infancy. Airbnb wouldn’t exist for another 12 years.
Since then, everything from software and media to lodging and crafts has moved online. What market is next? How about work... So many of us continue to slog through daily commutes. We sit for hours in offices. We feel as if we’re waiting for the school bell to ring at the end of the day to escape. Why are we behaving this way? Our habits are born of the Industrial Age, when people had to be in one place to work factory lines. But there is almost no need for that today. Meeker’s report proclaims that the “big 20-year change” is people have become connected to the Internet through their devices 24/7. We can all log on to “go to work” rather than drive to an office. Furthermore, manufacturing jobs are going away and innovation-driven jobs are on the rise. This innovation-driven work is much more easily performed online.
How we work needs to be reimagined, and that reimagination is happening -- the deck contains an entire section on it. I thought I’d unpack a few highlights of the report’s “evolution of work” slides here:
· The growth of e-commerce shows potential for the rapid growth of “ework” (or what I call “online work”) - The report points out that product commerce platforms (like eBay and Amazon) grew quickly and have reached about $300 billion in spend annually. It goes on to highlight service commerce platforms (including freelance work via Upwork) as the next step for online platforms.
· Freelancing and working on our own flexible terms is on the rise - The Internet introduces more freedom to work when and where you want, with people of your choosing.
There is friction in the job market because it’s hard for people to find each other, especially if you’re only looking at people who can commute to the same place. That’s going away. The Internet is becoming the road into work. Millennials, the largest generation in the workforce as of this year, have grown up as digital natives and have different career expectations from the start. The report points to the rise of this new generation of services platforms as being driven by “mobile-enabled, urban Millennials.” Why? Because “consumers’ expectation that they can get what they want with ease and speed will continue to
rise… This changes fundamental underpinnings of business and can create rising demand for flexible workers.” In 2014, 53 million Americans freelanced.
· There is work to be done - More than two decades in, the reverberations of the Internet are still just taking shape. And with people becoming connected 24/7, the pace of this change will only accelerate. In just the 5-year span between 2009 and 2014, smartphone adoption shot up from 18% to 64%. As work moves online, I see its potential as much larger than e-commerce. Think about the impact of being connected to job opportunities 24/7. Of freelancers surveyed last year in a study we commissioned with Freelancers Union, 31% said they can find a project online in less than 24 hours. Just like Internet access before it, access to jobs is certain to spread as well. And just like mobile proliferation, the speed with which people can connect to these jobs will get better and better. My vision is that within this year it will become possible for businesses to start connecting to professionals real-time.
What will Mary Meeker’s report show in 20 years? What other markets will the Internet reimagine? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
This article was orginally published on LinkedIn.