Sociology Index

Uberization

Uberization is a model where economic agents exchange under-utilized capacity of existing assets and human resources saving on transaction costs. Uber Technologies Inc. the company, is making its technology that powers its ride-hailing business available to others. As uberisation made its headway, 'the market decides' is the new mantra. Uberization has taken laissez-faire to another level. The term Uberisation, derived from the company name Uber, is commonly used to refer to globalization. Uber was founded in 2009 and the term uberisation came into vogue as recently as 2015. Uberization like Mcdonaldization and eBayization of workforce is the new catchphrase. Just as the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century satisfied the material needs of the masses, uberization is now gratifying the service needs of the people.

The term Uberisation is common accross headlines like:

"The Uberisation of Customer Service Will Kill Retail if we don't Change."

"UberEats means you can order anything, anywhere."

"European agency warns about 'uberisation' of drug market."

"Uberisation and the recruitment marketplaces." And even,

"The Uberisation of Orthodontics."

The term uberisation refers to the utilisation of computing platforms, in order to facilitate peer to peer transactions between clients, bypassing the role of centrally planned corporations. Uberisation of the workplace is a trend which makes it possible for companies to cut costs, hire talent on demand, customise the workforce according to the projects and build a highly motivated team. The employees, who are basically contractual consultants and freelancers, get to select projects they want. Uberisation has changed the traditional service industries by providing a technological platform to match users and providers on a massive scale.

The uberisation model has different operating costs in comparison to a traditional business. Uberisation is a business model in which services are offered on demand through direct contact between a customer and a supplier. Applying Uberisation means replacing an inefficient model with one that marries digital technologies with personal human connections.

Uberisation has been made possible by the development of digital technologies developed in the 20th and 21st centuries. Organisations like Uber, GrabCar, and Airbnb enable potential customers to be put into direct contact with potential providers. The phenomenon of uberisation is characterised by the elimination of middle man.

Uberisation has taken place in a growing amount of industries. The advent of Airbnb has transformed the hospitality industry. Uberisation has been criticised as catalysing a chaotic shift by undermining existing corporate models.

Examples of uberisation include: GrabCar, Ola Cabs in India, Airbnb, CouchSurfing, Tudou, Indiegogo, eBay, and TaskRabbit. Uberisation has been criticised for its role in facilitating the decline of labour-intensive industries, therefore, threatening jobs. Uberisation has raised concerns over government regulations and taxation and has led to disputes over the extent to which the provider of services should be held accountable to corporate regulations and tax obligations. 

Solicitors Regulation Authority has signalled what it called the Uberisation of the legal market with the advent of the freelance solicitor. Solicitors Regulation Authority proposes to make it easier for solicitors to provide reserved legal services on a freelance basis to the public. They would not be required to register as a sole practitioner or be employed by an authorised firm.

The uberisation of housing markets: putting theory into practice. - Andrea Sharam, (Institute for Social Research, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia). Lyndall Bryant, Queensland University of Technology. The purpose of this paper is to scope a model for how “uberisation” can revolutionise the traditional apartment delivery model in Australia, leading to improved housing affordability.
The Uberisation of Talent: Can the Job Market Really Be Optimised? Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Contributor, Forbes.

Aggregation as technology allows optimisation of all kind of infrastructure, so it is easy to do an Uberisation of all state-owned research equipment by bringing them on an online platform open to all institutions, especially the universities that have the mass of researchers but are rarely granted high-end equipment like a super-computer.

‘Uberisation’ is the future of the digitalised labour market. Juha-Pekka Nurvala. European View. December 2015.
Abstract: The ‘Uberisation’ of service sectors will become the norm in the future. The driving factor behind this development is a dramatic collapse in transaction costs made possible by new and more developed Internet-based matching platforms. What is emerging can be called the ‘People-to-People Economy’, Uberisation is a term that describes the diffused nature of the new model. Uberisation, or the new People-to-People Economy, is not the same thing as the ‘sharing economy’ since the two are based on different economic developments.

Towards the Uberisation of Legal Practice
Margaret Thornton, Australian National University.
Abstract: Uber and Airbnb signify new ways of working and doing business by facilitating direct access to providers through new digitalised platforms. The gig economy is also beginning to percolate into legal practice through what is colloquially known as NewLaw. Eschewing plush offices, permanent staff and the rigidity of time billing, NewLaw offers cheaper services to clients in order to compete more effectively with traditional law firms. For individual lawyers, autonomy, flexibility, a balanced life, wellbeing and even happiness are claimed to be the benefits. The downside appears to be that NewLaw favours senior and experienced lawyers while disproportionately impacting on recent graduates. This article draws on interviews with lawyers in Australian and English NewLaw firms in order to evaluate the pros and cons of NewLaw.