Think of what “as a service” provides us in our everyday lives. It’s our Ubers, our meal delivery kits, our entertainment subscriptions — any technology leveraging cloud services that streamlines our day.
As these tools gain traction in our personal lives, that same craving for Everything as a Service, or XaaS, now exists in the commercial front. From startups to small and medium-sized businesses to enterprise organizations, the desire to optimize workflow, increase efficiency and boost productivity has propelled the XaaS industry to new heights.
Here are three areas where technology is redefining services and driving the future of work.
1. Tech Enables Flexible Workspaces
In the modern workforce, employees seek flexibility and fluidity in both their workspaces and workstyles. Streamlining business operations, fostering community and driving collaboration are all adding fuel to this flexible future of work.
A report by Knight Frank found that the number of flexible office spaces globally grew 3,500 percent over the past decade, while the number of people working in these spaces increased by 8,000 percent. Corporations caught on quickly to this trend, and 80 percent are expected to increase the amount of collaborative space they use over the next three years. A prime example of how companies might do this is the Space as a Service leader WeWork.
The co-working giant uses technology to make the task of acquiring office space more manageable by providing entrepreneurs with both workspace and community, while eliminating the need for young companies to make large investments in more traditional corporate spaces. Similarly, Storefront offers on-demand retail space for pop-up shops, connecting brands, e-commerce businesses and artists with space owners for short-term stores and events around the world.
Technology is the linchpin for these co-working spaces, helping employees work together no matter their location. Collaboration tools such as Skype for Business and Cisco Webex let employees not only communicate from wherever they may be in the co-working space, but also collaborate using resources that may be offsite.
2. Services Allow Businesses to Enter the Sharing Economy
Today, the concept of ownership is fading fast. Forbes reports on the growing trend of “NOwnership,” a preference for using shared resources rather than owning products, particularly driven by younger workers and the fact that 74 percent of Americans prioritize experiences over products.
The growing allure of sharing versus owning is translating from group use of consumer services — such as UberPool and Lyft Line — to commercial equipment.
For instance, Cohealo enables hospitals to share capital-intensive equipment with each other according to demand, reducing investment costs. The platform enabled Kaiser to design an Amazon Prime–like service to provide access to medical equipment without the costs associated with rentals or purchasing outright — saving the company $8.6 million along the way.
Another example is Flexe, which allows companies to manage growth, inventory peaks and supply chains by sharing manufacturing and production facilities, warehousing space and equipment. This trend is not just in manufacturing; in offices big and small, the future may see single printers and large fleets alike transformed to serve as print-on-demand services: Users send a print job to the cloud and have it delivered via courier within a specified time frame.
Sharing assets also delivers against an added and crucial objective for businesses and society: sustainability. Communal use of resources with significant carbon footprints, such as cars, trucks, industrial equipment or buildings, helps carry organizations toward the 2020 sustainable impact goals that many are striving to achieve by next year.
3. XaaS Enables Businesses to Access Elite Expertise
Outsourced expertise enables businesses to bridge gaps in both capability and resources, such as the groundswell around the growing scarcity in IT and data security know-how. Security as a Service empowers companies with access to technology expertise to deliver leading-edge, regulation-compliant protection.
Another substantial benefit of sharing expertise is that it’s a great enabler for SMBs and microbusinesses, giving them ready access to capabilities that would otherwise be cost- or resource-prohibitive. With as-a-service technology, a rural dentist’s office can experience the same IT capability as the largest global conglomerate.