Sramana Mitra: What trends does your work highlight in the context of mobile and social adoption?
Craig Powell: One thing that’s very relevant right now is what’s called the California 2802 Employment Regulation, which requires employers to fairly and accurately reimburse their employees. This has come up in some of the recent Uber and Lyft lawsuits related to how they’re reimbursing or capturing mileage for their drivers. There are about six other states that are pursuing similar legislation.
The notion of the broader concept of general expense management and the capturing of your dinner receipts and hotel receipts from Excel to software solutions that manage those processes has been a big driver. Millennials, in general, are averse to the notion of having a car at all, but in all respects, not wanting a generic company car. The transfusion of mobile and mobile technologies into the hands of these mobile workers has enabled the ability to drive automation and streamlining of a lot of administrative tasks that these folks face – everything from inventory reporting to time and activity reporting.
I would say last but not the least, companies are consistently looking for the ability to mitigate their risk, which is amplified if I put somebody in a company car versus reimbursing them for the business use of their personal car. In such cost savings, we fight a status quo of self-reported mileage. In fact there’s a recent study that said that there was over $3 billion worth of mileage in the US alone. A lot of that has to do with self-reporting.
It’s interesting if you think about that from a mileage perspective, given that you would never ask your employees to self-report how much their their hotel room cost. Obviously, folks are turning to this to say, “Here are technologies that can allow us to get to an actual receipt of what it costs for that individual driver to drive that car for work in the geography that they live in.”
Sramana Mitra: If you were to look at this segment of the industry in the context of the trends that you were talking about, where are the open problems? If you were starting a company today, what would you start?
Craig Powell: There are all kinds of on-demand service opportunities to meet the needs of these mobile workers who drive for work. Our drivers drive, on average, 17,000 business miles a year. They make over four stops a day. They typically are closed loop on 90-mile routes. They need their tires changed. They need to be able to get gas at a discount. They need to get their oil changed. They need their cars cleaned and maintained. I think there are huge opportunities for on-demand service companies to go do those things in the parking lot where these cars are parked while these folks are attending meetings as opposed to the legacy approach.