Tag Archives: On-Demand

On-Demand Workers: the Implications

According to a report published by Edelman Berland, an independent research firm that conducted a study on behalf of the Freelancers Union and Upwork, the number of on-demand workers (who earn a living by performing tasks on an ad hoc basis) continues to grow year after year.

Some of the most interesting findings in the report are:

  • The percent of the U.S. workforce considered on-demand or freelancer is 34%;
  • The number of on-demand workers increased by 700,000 from 2014-15;
  • The majority of workers who switched from traditional employment to on-demand employment earned more money within their first-year freelancing;
  • More than 51% of on-demand workers find project work online, up from 42% from the prior year; and
  • More than half of on-demand workers report they prefer freelance work and would not consider traditional employment regardless of the compensation.

So we have a growing army of happy freelancers who have sworn off traditional employment. If that’s not disruption, I’m not quite sure what is.

See also: How to Embrace Workforce Flexibility  

The Outlook For The On-Demand Workforce

According to the key findings reported in the Edelman Berland survey, the outlook for freelancing is continued growth because of the satisfaction perceived by the members of the on-demand workforce. In fact, more than 80% of freelancers believe there are better days ahead, and three in four would recommend freelancing to their family and friends.

It’s even more interesting to learn that three in four traditional employees are open to doing additional work as a freelancer if the opportunity is available to them.

And opportunities to “gig” are growing exponentially with the advent of innovative platforms. Consider that in 2012, WeGoLook had 7,400 gig workers on our platform. As of January 2016, we now have considerably more than 30,000.

The On-Demand Workforce by Category

Although common terms like “1099 worker” or “freelancer” are used when describing the on-demand worker, the category consists of five distinct classifications:

  1. Independent Contractors: This category consists of “traditional” freelancers who typically do freelance, temporary or supplemental work on a per-project basis, rather than traditional employment.
  2. Moonlighters: These are professionals who have a primary job but also moonlight from time to time to earn extra income. For example, a copywriter who works full time for a traditional firm, but also works on projects for others in the evening.
  3. Temporary Workers: Although temporary workers are considered employees by their staffing agency, they work on a temporary basis and have the liberty of choosing the type and scope of work being offered.
  4. Freelance Business Owners: This is typically a freelance business that contracts with other freelancers who are paid by the freelance business rather than the client. For example, a freelance web designer who has more business than he or she can handle contracts with other freelancers who are paid by the freelance business rather than the client.
  5. Diversified Workers: This category consists of workers who have multiple sources of income from a mix of employers and freelance work. (For example: a part-time employee at a hospital who supplements her income as an on-demand worker at WeGoLook.)

Implication for Insurers

The consequences for insurers are twofold.

No. 1 is that the insurers can access this workforce to scale back on the insurer’s cost of employment. And, No. 2, this workforce will need various insurance products just like any other small business.

Let’s dig a little deeper with several key points here.


There are several important communications tasks that need not be assigned to full-time workers who possess communication skills. These tasks are performed based on temporary projects and to reach specific outcomes.

Using a skilled on-demand worker who can be available at a moment’s notice and for a short period makes more financial sense than using a higher-paid full-time employee who has fewer incentives to please consumers or agents that they communicate with.

Large insurers with a national agent distribution network can also use skilled freelancers to communicate with the many agencies across the country that represent them.


Because an insurer’s claims department is not a profit-generating department, strategies to reduce operations cost are legitimate. Although most insurers employ a staff of claim managers, many assign the adjusting portion of the claim to independent contractors.

Now, insurers can find experienced claim adjusters to work on a per-project basis and reduce their staffing accordingly. This will be especially useful when the claimant is in a rural area and miles from the nearest claim facility or office.

Why employ a disparate network of full-time field agents when you can tap into an on-demand workforce at a moment’s notice?


All insurers — large or small — will have some amount of dedicated marketing staff members to communicate their message to prospects and clients. By accessing the on-demand workforce on an as-needed basis, insurers can reduce their workforce and cut employee expenses for ad-hoc and last minute projects.

Because of the size of the gig workforce, competition will not only drive costs down but will give you access to the most talented professionals who fit your hiring criteria.


As the demand for insurance products ebbs and flows during the year (and during natural disasters), having a flexible underwriting staff can benefit an insurer’s relationship with agents and customers. This flexibility can be accomplished by contracting with skilled freelancers who have come out of the insurance industry and prefer to work as a freelancer rather than as a traditional employee. Having skilled underwriters on the payroll drives up the administrative costs of insurance products and can be greatly reduced by accessing the on-demand marketplace whenever possible.

New Business

Fortunately for insurers, on-demand workers need to purchase insurance just like any typical small business.

Although they work from home and typically do not require workers’ compensation insurance, workers will need to protect their business and themselves with professional liability, health insurance and life insurance. In fact, insurers who are willing to offer a business owners policy to home-based businesses can expect an increase in sales that is directly related to the significant growth of the on-demand economy.

See also: 3 Questions About On-Demand Economy  

Final Thoughts

Insurers who understand the continual growth of the on-demand workforce and embrace the implications for adapting this segment into their traditional workforce are likely to find significant savings in payroll and employee insurance costs.

On-demand employees are typically experienced workers who are doing what they know best and are passionate about. But they are happier because they are working for themselves and are masters of their own destiny.

Insurers and agencies that wish to reduce the costs of distribution, marketing, communications and claims should look to this flexible workforce to streamline processes that affect consumer satisfaction. Based on personal experience, I can attest that integrating the gig economy into your supply chain and business processes is a win-win.

What Small Firms Want to Buy

American entrepreneurship is alive and well and growing! There are countless rags-to-riches stories of how people with a good idea, boundless energy and infectious optimism have made it big, or simply made a rewarding livelihood and legacy for themselves and their families. Today’s fintech and insurtech movements are testament to this in spades! And while most national news stories focus on big business, and national cultural events like Black Friday tend to overshadow small businesses, there’s a growing movement embracing these vital contributors to our communities and economy.

Insurance and other services are vital components for the vitality, risk protection and longevity of small businesses, and suppliers that are easy to do business with can capture a larger percentage of the market. Unfortunately, new research by Majesco, The Rise of the Small-Medium Business Insurance Customer: Shifting Views and Expectations…Is Your Business Ready for Them?, reveals that the insurance industry (as compared with other industries with which small businesses work) is “not easy to do business with.” The problem creates an opening for insurance startups.

The Rise of Small Businesses and the Shop Small Movement

On Nov. 26, 2016, the 7th annual Small Business Saturday event sponsored by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) was held to encourage shopping and patronage of local small business merchants – in the wake of the preceding day’s big box store Black Friday shopping hysteria.  According to research done by these organizations after last year’s Small Business Saturday, more than 95 million consumers shopped at small retailer businesses, spending $16.2 billion, up 8% from 2014. Interestingly, the event garnered support from many corporate sponsors – many of which count small businesses as their customers.

Millennials show strong support for local small businesses, indicating they want to be “connected” to the products and businesses they buy from. A study by Edelman Digital showed that 40% of millennials preferred to buy goods and services from local small business retailers, even if doing so cost more.

See also: Why Start-Ups Win on Small Business  

While Small Business Saturday and Buy Local have a decidedly retail focus to them, the importance of all types of small businesses cannot be overlooked. U.S. Census Bureau figures from 2014 showed that businesses with fewer than 10 employees make up nearly 80% of all firms in the U.S. This is a huge market with enormous needs for products and services, including insurance to keep them running, protected and competitive.

Where’s the Love?

The Rise of the Small-Medium Business Customer research sought to understand small-medium business decision makers’ perceptions and views of those who support and supply them, including insurance. Four hundred business owners were surveyed using the Census Bureau’s definitions of very small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), which we grouped into three segments (1-9 employees, 10-99 employees and 100-499 employees). The survey provided insights to evaluate perceptions on SMB customer views of insurance as compared with other businesses

The results were enlightening. Interestingly, fair price was more important than lowest price across all of the business segments. However, the ability to create a custom product from a range of options is more important than both lowest price and the ability to pick from a set of “pre-packaged” options. This finding reflects the increasing demand for personalization rather than price-driven mass production of insurance products.

Even more revealing were the results among the smallest (1-9 employees) businesses. The survey highlights that the traditional insurance business model has not been built with the capability to adequately meet the unique needs and expectations of SMBs. The industry has, instead, pursued a “one size fits all” approach. The consequences are that this segment of smallest SMBs (though with the largest number of such businesses) is uninterested in insurance, sees little value in insurance and considers insurance a necessary commodity or “necessary evil” required for their businesses.

All three segments of SMBs, regardless of size, did not rate insurance as being particularly easy to do business with, in terms of researching, buying and servicing products, compared with the other types of businesses we asked about in the survey. Among the 1-9-employee segment, P&C, life and employee benefits ranked in the bottom half on all three of these aspects.

Much more telling, however, this segment gave the lowest Net Promoter Scores (NPS) to insurance, showing a gap of as much as 60 points between insurance and the top business. (Net Promoter Scores measure the likelihood that a customer will make a recommendation to a prospective customer.)

Adding fuel to the fire, these small businesses were the least likely to say insurance was responsive, innovative, had easy to understand products and provided good value for the money. This is not a pretty picture for traditional insurance — but a great opportunity for innovative “greenfields” and startups.

Going Small Requires Big Thinking

Increasingly, small business customers are demanding a personalized and digital experience, representing the shift from mass standardiza­tion of insurance to the micro-personalization of insurance, requiring broader data and sophisticated analytics to truly understand and respond to small businesses as well as a digital experience via a multi-channel approach.

The rapid emergence of digital direct-to-SMB insurers and MGAs such as Assurestart (now part of Homesite/American Family), Cover Your Business.Com (a Berkshire Hathaway company), Hiscox, Insureon, Bolt, Slice and others are leveraging these ideas to reach the small business market. They are providing innovative products, streamlined and simple processes and digitally engaging capabilities that are extending the direct business model to SMB customers. In addition, aggregators, comparison sites or new distribution channels like Ask Kodiak help small businesses find the insurance products they need more easily.

Our research identified gaps between many industry-held perceptions and customer-defined realities, which expose an insurance industry steeped in tradition — its business models, business processes, channels and products that are difficult to find, buy and service — and opens the door to new competitors. We have seen this play out before with personal lines over the last 10 to 15 years. The difference is that the pace of change and adoption of a digital play is unfolding more rapidly this time in commercial insurance, demanding that insurers respond, because the window of opportunity is smaller.

Each company serving the SMB market must itself strategic questions, such as: “How do we bridge between the past, today and the future? How do we keep current customers loyal and engaged as we redefine our business to meet the needs of the vastly underserved and growing small business market? How do we get on par with other digital businesses that are setting new expectations for the SMB market?” If traditional insurers don’t ask these questions and respond, others will – taking current and future market share.

See also: Secret Sauce for New Business Models?  

Small businesses today are at the forefront of building new, technology-enabled, digitally first, innovative businesses that operate in a multi-channel world … like what we are seeing in insurtech. These businesses are increasingly led by millennials who have “grown up” digital and, as a result, seek fresh alternatives to age-old formulas … especially for insurance needs and offerings, helping them effectively meet their unique needs and expectations.  It’s time for the insurance industry to translate the good will from the Buy Local and Shop Small movements into big thinking and innovative solutions.

A new generation of small business insurance buyers with new needs and expectations create both a challenge and an opportunity. There is no clear path or destination. The time for plans, preparation, and execution is now — recognizing that the SMB customer is in control. Those who recognize and rapidly respond to this shift will thrive in an increasingly competitive industry to become the new leaders of a re-imagined insurance business that aligns to a rapidly growing, millennial-owned, innovative SMB marketplace.  Insurance companies must stop talking about the opportunities and being digital, and start doing something about it by using the disruption and change as a catalyst for “real change.”

On-Demand Insurance: Ultimately a Bust?

In the past several years, mobile technology has allowed economic transactions to get accomplished with little to no effort. Companies like Uber and Airbnb are leading the way, with business models that conveniently match supply and demand of livery and temporary housing in a way that has truly revolutionized how we go about our day-to-day lives. These new business models are often described as the on-demand economy, where customers: (1) obtain access to services, when they need it and (2) only pay per use.

Going Beyond Uber and Airbnb

On-demand solutions have spawned into new industries such as pet sitting, food and laundry delivery, event planning and, more recently, insurance. Innovative entrepreneurs are bringing this exciting business model to insurance…and I think it’s a terrible idea.

Insurance is unlike any other business. An Uber user gets a ride, an Airbnb user gets a place to stay. There’s an instant gratification that doesn’t exist in an insurance transaction, because, in insurance, the user gets a promise. A promise! That’s it. Basically, an insurance customer pays and then waits for the promise to materialize in the form of a paid claim. This lack of instant gratification makes extending on-demand, pay-per-use models into insurance untenable in the long run.

Here’s How

In an on-demand or pay-per-use business model, when do you think insurance buyers will most want to buy insurance? Logic says, just before they are likely to need it. Consider Trōv, “the world’s first on-demand insurance for your things. With Trōv, you can protect just the things you want, exactly when you want, entirely from your phone. You can also easily organize important information about the things you own and back it up to the cloud, so it’s accessible when needed.” Admittedly, the app is nifty. The look and feel is fantastic and will really appeal to the new generation of insurance shoppers who wish to do everything on their phones. I can take a picture of my laptop, swipe, and it’s insured. Very easy.

Perhaps a little bit too easy.

See also: On-Demand Insurance: What’s at Stake  

Flaw #1: Bad Economics

Put yourself in the shoes of a user and ask yourself, when will you most likely perform this transaction? Are you more likely to swipe-to-insure when the laptop is nicely tucked away in your bag, in your house, over a cozy, snowy weekend, when you are there to protect it…OR…are you more likely to insure it when you are traveling to a 2,000-person conference in New York City, staying in an Airbnb shared space? Odds are, in the on-demand insurance world, you will more likely buy coverage just before you’re likely to use it. Not to say that all insureds will do this, but rather that enough will, which will make the loss costs for the products insured higher than the same exposure in a traditional insurance product. And if loss costs are higher, so are the premiums.

In other words, in this pay-per-use insurance model, the cost per unit of exposure will be significantly higher than in the traditional insurance model. And this is without even accounting for fraud. Imagine being able to get a new laptop every two to three years by insuring your old one just before it is mysteriously stolen? The economics scream that this won’t work!

You can’t “on-demand” a promise. The promise itself is intangible, and users will only perceive value if they’ve actually used the product — in direct contrast to insurers’ objectives.

Flaw #2: Increased Interaction With an Insurance Company

Another flaw in this model is that it’s incumbent on the buyer to turn coverage on and off, essentially market timing the transaction. Consider Slice, which “provides coverage on-demand, and for only the periods of time you need it. The Slice policy will automatically begin and end in perfect sync time you’re operating as a business, whether it’s minutes, days or weeks. And, you only pay for the dates and times you have a policy.”

Let’s assume the role of the Slice insurance user: What if the user forgets to turn coverage on or off? While, in the case of Slice, users have to specify the off date, not all on-demand insurance players require this. Also, these new firms, which are focused on the customer experience, seem to ignore the fact that the last thing customers want is more interaction with insurance firms. As big of a fanatic about the industry as I am, I look forward to dealing with my insurance carrier as I much as I look forward to dealing with the IRS or with my dentist. We humans are notoriously bad at stock market timing. It’s pretty much common wisdom to avoid market timing and diversify your risk using low-cost indexing. In sum, the message of on-demand insurance? Time the risk.

Some on-demand solutions, such as the one by auto insurer Metromile, place a device inside your vehicle that removes the user from the need to turn insurance on or off. The device is always on, and Metromile will only bill you if you use the service (outside of a small base rate), solving the timing problem mentioned above. I’m a fan of any technology that minimizes my interaction with the insurer, so what’s not to love? If you are truly a low-mileage driver, then you are likely to benefit from this arrangement, but….in my many years of selling auto insurance, the one near-constant source of pride that most auto insurance buyers patted themselves on the back for was how few miles they drove. Yet, time after time, when it came to verify miles driven, most policyholders failed to squeeze under 10,000 to 12,000 miles per year. That also happens to be the the inflection point where Metromile policies begin to get more expensive than traditional policies. So for the fortunate few who truly are low-mileage drivers, pay-per-use car insurance is likely a good deal. For everyone else, it will either be an expensive proposition, or, perhaps worse, you will bend your style of life to fit within the affordable mileage thresholds.

Flaw #3: We Need More Coverage, More Often; Not Less

Finally, insurance is all about dealing with risk and uncertainty, and we humans are really, really bad at managing risk. Low-frequency, high-severity events are truly troubling for our minds to handle. Our species has made remarkable advancements over tens of thousands of years, and yet even the brightest of us fall prey to risk and uncertainty. Whether it’s speculative risks or insurable risks, we make the same mistakes over and over again. On-demand or pay-per-use insurance is another innovation that, I believe, while attractive to many, is not really the type of products that insurers should be offering.

You may be the most conscientious person, a true low-risk insurance buyer whom every carrier wants, and yet there are still a full range of factors that can and will cause you great losses, all of which are out of your control. No matter how risk-averse you are, things such as lightning, hail, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, drunk drivers, slip and falls, falling cranes, power outages and other random events are going to strike, and you can’t always avoid them. For that reason, insurance policies are designed to offer a breadth of coverage. Yet it feels as if there’s a new wave of entrepreneurs entering the industry, looking to cash in on the insurance transaction by unbundling the coverage breadth and offering a stripped-down version of current coverage under the guise of “savings,” while leaving insureds more exposed.

See also: Insuring a ‘Slice’ of the On-Demand Economy  

I can see the attraction of pay-per-use. After all, why pay for all this extra insurance you don’t need? That being said, in the long run most customers will be turned off. The economics are not in place for the vast majority of insurance buyers. They don’t need less coverage, they need more! And they need it turned on – always!

Buyers of on-demand or pay-per-use insurance will either get caught with their pants down (“Oops, I forgot to turn the coverage on”) or get frustrated when they see that they have been paying 25-50% of the value of their property year over year (“Oops, I forgot to turn the coverage off”) or get super frustrated when the coverage limits their lifestyle (“Can i get a lift; my car insurance is really expensive when I drive”).

In other words, this new trend in insurance is penny-wise and pound-foolish. We certainly can do better.

On-Demand Insurance: What’s at Stake

Now that we can itemize what we insure, a shift to value in the cloud is taking shape. We don’t have real numbers to crunch yet, but let’s take a stab at the issue.

If I have 10 major items in my home with an average cost to insure of $10 to $20 each, on-demand each year, does this represent a paradigm shift in the making from traditional underwriting?

If I sell two of those in the next six months, why am I still paying premium on them?

We just bought all new kitchen appliances, so are we to alert State Farm about our purchases; can we? We have a new bicycle and new flat screen less than a year old, and, like most, the list continues. If we’re paying $1,059 a year for both structure and personal property, what if we were to go on-demand?

See also: Insuring a ‘Slice’ of the On-Demand Economy  

What if over the past 10 years our property fluctuated in value by $30,000 or more, can on-demand keep pace?

Yes there are more questions than answers, but the fact is that the difference between real property and personal property is fading as we move personal lines to the cloud. Anyone care to examine that point further?

How are traditional insurers working toward evaluating, managing and tracking the things they insure in the cloud? If disruptors believe millennials feel strongly enough to insure major items in their home or apartment one by one, is there still time for traditional insurers to shift gears?

If in the next 10 years on-demand takes off and we have 10 major players, will they compete on price differences for the same items cataloged?

Example: Mike desires insurance for his new Trek bike valued at $2,300. So he goes to a site comparing prices for those 10 new players. Do you think, over time, there would be a few cents difference for a $2,300 bike to insure on-demand? One insurer may say $13 a year, another $12, and soon on-demand may be competing for less than a dollar difference, which raises the question: “Will individual items become a commodity in pricing over time?”

If you manage, track, update and possibly link on-demand goods in the cloud… will value-added services become more important than price? What will those services look like?

From a perspective of someone on the outside looking in for the past 20 years, I keep harping on this from a number of points, this one in particular: Customizable, on-demand insurance could take agents out of the equation.

Legacy insurers: You have something that Lemonade, Slice and TROV will never have up close and personal for your customers, but you’ve failed to make the necessary changes. Should there be change?

See also: On-Demand Economy Is Just Starting  

On-demand could be the Achilles heel more so than any other disruption for the insurance industry! Traditional carriers: Combat disruption with disruption!

On-Demand Economy Is Just Starting

Fifteen years ago, the idea of having access to any bit of information you could possibly want at your fingertips was outrageous. In 2001, you could get access to the Internet from your phone, but the experience would be slooooow, and it might cost you hundreds of dollars. Dial-up Internet from desktop computers – remember them? – was still very much a thing. Now, people carry smartphones that give them instant access to just about anyone, to every bit of news and to almost all the knowledge in recorded history.

People use those devices mostly to watch videos of singing goats and people failing at dunking a basketball, but that’s a different story.

The point is that technology, such as smartphones and smart watches, has created an on-demand world where gratification needs to be instant. When someone decides he wants something, he doesn’t want it in two hours. He doesn’t want it in 20 minutes. He wants it now. And, he wants it at the push of a button.

As the trajectory of the last 15 years shows, the trend toward on-demand will only continue, perhaps even accelerate.

The main driver, as usual, is good, old Moore’s Law, which has seen the computing power of a chip double every year and a half to two years since the 1960s at no increase in cost. Moore’s Law is why a gigabyte of memory, which cost $300,000 in the mid-1980s, today costs less than a penny, and why, despite some technology headwinds for Moore’s Law, we’ll have devices hundreds of times as powerful as today’s before kids born this year enter high school.

Other “laws,” such as Metcalfe’s, continue to drive the value of networks at an exponential rate. So-called “network effects” are why millennials rarely have their phones more than a foot away and why there is so much effort to make devices even more accessible – in front of your eyes, a la the failed-but-not-forever-dead Google Glass, or on your wrist as a “watch.” Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of the MIT Media Lab, has argued for years that we’ll eventually wind up with cellphones surgically implanted behind our jaws, where they will have easy access to our vocal cords and our ears.

But Moore’s Law and Metcalfe’s and the others that have driven the unbelievable progress in computing are just the start. Now, three more factors are kicking in, increasing the pace toward the on-demand world. First, sensors and cameras are wiring more and more of the world every day. Second, people are coming up with new business models that build on these new capabilities in surprising and powerful ways. Third, the effects will spread to what is sometimes referred to as “the next billion” (and the billion after that). Those of us in the developed world won’t have all the fun; the rest of the world will join in.

Sensors and Cameras

Fitbit et al. track every step you take and every calorie you burn, and they’re just the beginning. People have begun talking about the “Internet in Me.” The idea is that you might ingest some small sensor that will report from inside your blood stream about blood pressure, blood sugar, etc. A wireless signal – powered by the abundant electricity inside us – would send the information to your phone or watch, which would relay any necessary information to a doctor or some sort of healthcare provider.

Drones are everywhere. They can check crops, monitor disasters or do whatever. In fact, woe to the next generation of teenagers – parents can now just keep a drone in the home and have it fly around from time to time to see if Junior is having a party while they’re away.

Our mobile phones constantly provide information on traffic flow, based simply on how fast they’re moving in our cars. (When is the last time you saw a traffic copter, let alone a thin rubber hose across a road that tripped a counter every time a car ran over it?) Waze has layered crowdsourcing on top of the data from mobile phones, encouraging people to report accidents and other delays, to fine-tune maps and so forth. Nauto, a start-up, is trying to add another layer by getting fleet operators—and, eventually, individual drivers—to put cameras in vehicles (one looking at the road, one looking at the driver) with the initial goal to improve safety. If enough of Nauto’s cameras are on the road, they will provide a real-time look at the world. Want a parking spot right now? Nauto can tell you about the one that opened up 30 seconds ago a block away.

Google is gathering information in real time about diseases like the flu – it can report when and where a lot of people start searching for information about certain symptoms. Even our thoughts and emotions are getting wired. Historically, in presidential elections, people conducted the occasional opinion poll, so you’d have a sense of the result of the debate a week or so later. Now, people monitor Twitter streams and Google searches in real time to assess who won and who lost. Those feelings then get aggregated in prediction markets that are far more accurate than political observers ever were. Of course, a lot of effort gets put into figuring out presidential elections because of the stakes involved, but this kind of wiring and immediate response will spread into other areas, as well.

The physical world is being folded into the digital one through hacks such as QR codes, which let magazine readers scan them to figure out where they can purchase an outfit or whatever else is in an image. Amazon’s voice-activated Alexa sits in the middle of a room and allows people to buy something through Amazon right when they think of it, even if they don’t have their phone near them.

Our lives divide into two parts these days: Those that are wired and those that will be wired. 

New Business Models

Just Google “the Uber of,” and you’ll see how much a single inventive business model can change things. You’ll be prompted with companies offering the Uber of trucking, dog walking, laundry, snowplows, tennis partners dentistry and much more. There is a powerful example in the insurance industry: WeGoLook, which is being called the “Uber of claims handling.” If a carrier needs a picture of a car, it can send someone out from the office, or it can draw on the tens of thousands of freelancers affiliated with WeGoLook and have one of them take the necessary pictures and gather the information. Especially in rural areas, it can be a lot cheaper to have a local person gather the information than to send someone out from a regional office. And, through the wonders of information technology, WeGoLook can be so thoroughly integrated into a carrier’s system that the person asking for the photos, etc. doesn’t need to even think about whether the request is being fed to an internal person or to WeGoLook.

Even without totally new business models, tweaks are accelerating the pace of the economy. Seamless, the on-demand food delivery service, has shaken things up by making it much easier for customers to order food for takeout or delivery. Venmo has become popular among millennials by greatly simplifying the process of sharing costs and, in general, making small payments to each other.

Amazon went from “delivery some time” to mostly two-day delivery, via Prime. Now it is working hard to get to same-day delivery and is even experimenting with drones that could deliver within perhaps 20 minutes.

These business model changes will keep unfolding, too, in many cases like a slow-motion train wreck. You can already see some of the ways that 3D printing will step up the pace – you just click on the image of a hairbrush you want and have it start printing in your office immediately. Or look at the news business. Remember weekly news magazines like Time, Newsweek and BusinessWeek? Not only have they gone away but even daily publications like the Wall Street Journal have had to switch to instantaneous publication online – no more holding the big stories for the print edition the next morning. Those of us of a certain age remember what a big deal it was when Monday Night Football showed highlights from the day before. Now, we don’t even have to wait for Sports Center at the end of a game. We can just call up a highlight on our phones. If you look at the changes going on at CNN, you can see that its mission has changed, because there is a new form of 24-hour news network: It’s called the Internet, and it’s “on-demand” — no need to keep Wolf Blitzer droning on in the background.

The Next Billion

As more and more people from countries such as China and India and places in Africa enter the middle class, they will get access to all the technologies that drive the on-demand economy in the rest of the world. In some cases, they will even leapfrog us. In Kenya, for instance, growth in the traditional sort of banking is stunted even as the economy grows, because people use their mobile phones to exchange money. Who wants to go to a bank and wait for a teller?

And these changes in technology, business models and demographics are just the things we know about. You can be quite sure that lots of clever people are already at work on other ways that will speed the move toward the high-speed economy.

Think of the shift in the economy as the move from the demand curve to the on-demand curve.