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Is this a beautiful concept for all? – The economy opportunity posited via the exploitation of the basest human instinct; that is the perpetual drive, want and desire to do just about nothing at all. It is quite possibly one of the only truly unifying features of every single person that given the opportunity to avoid, defer, or reduce any task or in fact just straight up procrastinate or ignore, you can bet you we’d all chose to at some point in our lives. At its core, this is what the Lazy Economy is founded on the understanding that humans just do not want to do stuff and they will literally pay money.
Now traditionally, this means things like paying for traditional services that lubricated your daily woes, such as paying for taxis to transport you instead of walking, paying for food from cafes or restaurants, so you do not have to shop and cook, even paying a cleaner to come to your house to clean, so you do not have, to is something that many people have done for centuries. Now, for the sake of argument, I am going to group these things together as 'Analogue Services' as they required procurement via analogue means, e.g. talking to someone in real life (an utterly foreign concept I am sure…)
Now, lazy economics has really become a big business since the invention of the smartphone. It is probably no surprise to you where my argument is heading, so I am going to summarise it to get on to some cooler concepts, but in short, the lazy economy has exploited human desire to live an easy life to make companies such as Uber, Amazon, Lyft, Airbnb and others into multi-billion-dollar businesses.
Now, let’s explore some of the finer details of the lazy economy and what makes a company truly successful in this space. First up is hyper-accessibility or hyper-convenience. This is a concept that applies to the entirety of the business not just the point of sale (POS). So, Amazon is without a doubt the market leader in this process. Amazon has several product verticals from Amazon Fresh, Amazon Prime, Amazon Music, Amazon Market, Audible, Amazon Prime Now and many others. Now, each consumer-facing service has an app made exclusively for each service. They did not go for the all-in-one approach and try to create an app that is bloated, slow and difficult to navigate. They made separate tailored apps giving users the choice to go immediately into the product they wanted, and Amazon has spent millions, possibly billions overall in making each of these apps optimised to achieve only what that app is required to do and no more.
So, if you are in a rush and need a product delivered in one hour, you open the prime now app, it finds your current location via GPS and asks you 'is this where you are looking for the products to be delivered to?' You say yes, and then immediately are able to search for only products that can be delivered in 1 hour and nothing else. You add it to your cart and can immediately go to check out and (assuming you already have an account), all your payment information is already filled out. This is a great example of a consumer-facing aspect of the business that prioritises “hyper-convenience” and “hyper-accessibility” over all else.
The crucial part is though that companies often find it easy to do this for their point of sale, but rarely extend this ethos across the company. This is why Amazon is on the cusp of being valued at over $1 Trillion because it prioritises hyper-convenience across the entire business.
For instance, if you have a product that is faulty, ordered by mistake, wasn’t what was promised, or for any reason really, needs returning Amazon will (provided it is line with their T&Cs) never ask questions trust in its customers, and refund the full price, and makes returning the item incredibly easy. They have spent a huge amount of money not only in forward logistics, but in their return logistics, meaning that not only your products get to you quickly and conveniently, but sending them back is also fast and easy for the same reasons. They have partnered with dozens of businesses who operate as collection desks to return parcels and have also created a huge network of Amazon lockers. These are secure lockers dispersed over cities and towns around the world that allow Amazon delivery drivers to both drop off and pick up packages.
Another core principle of successful businesses within the lazy economy is they are not afraid to change the paradigm of who does what or who goes where. This is essentially what launched Deliveroo into the stratosphere economically as its founders realised that people love to eat at their favourite restaurants and that there really was not a reason that those restaurants couldn’t serve their food as a takeaway. The only reason they hadn’t done it was because there was a cultural, or historical idea that restaurants do not deliver food. Deliveroo created a service that was easy, and that gave users something they did not even realise they could have – their favourite restaurant food at home. They changed the paradigm around the experience and culture of restaurants and from that created a business valued at $2billion.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is also going to play an ever-growing role in the lazy economy going forward. We are already seeing operational efficiencies being driven by AI systems through automation. Traditionally automation would have been talking about mechanical labour automation, such as assembly robots, or repetitive task machines; however, with the emergence of AI that is able to understand human language, read, and see we’re starting to see AI automation replacing repetitive, long or laborious tasks that were previously entirely human endeavours.
Things such as the legal process of discovery. When investigating a new case, lawyers often have to go through vast amounts of information such as emails, letters, or documents in order to piece together patterns or find hidden incriminating evidence. This was previously done by teams of trained paralegal staff. It could take months or even years depending on the scale of the crime or the number of people involved. Well, this is a place that AI has revolutionised. Platforms such as Luminance offer AI-driven discovery offering “Lawyers around the world now rely on Luminance to dig deeper into their data, providing unprecedented insight and clarity across their contracts.” and also offers “Pattern-recognition technology (that) reads, understands and learns from the interaction between lawyers and documents, pinpointing warning signs that would be missed during a manual review.” Now, this is an interesting aspect of the Lazy Economy that is often overlooked. Businesses all have vast areas of inefficiency that they may be currently blind to. Whilst this is a revolutionary tool for the legal industry, it’s doesn’t necessarily have much scope outside.
One area that is ripe for AI-lead automation is accounting. Every business, big or small, must dedicate a not-insignificant portion of resources in both time and money towards accounting. Large portions of accounting are repetitive data entry type tasks that are rules-based. AI Accounting software can provide outputs that can be extremely accurate, replacing and, in some cases, far superseding human efforts. SMACC is a german based AI accounting software company. Their software uses more than 60 data points to review receipts and invoices. It checks whether the math is accurate and verifies whether the issuer is correct with details like Value Added Tax (VAT) identification numbers. When the software has learned how to handle each supplier, tasks are subsequently handled automatically. Meaning that once it is set up and configured it can operate without requiring a human operator to input the data or to review. So for businesses, this could mean huge cost savings in terms of staffing as they could consolidate their accounting departments down to single people to oversee or would provide savings in a reduction in errors or with increased volume throughput that can be handled.
AI Technology is booming the world over and we are starting to see companies take real strides in delivering expert systems that are both making people’s lives easier, but also increasing the margin of businesses both big and small. With this boom, there is also a big increase in the demand for hardware.