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AV Hero Brings the Gig Economy to AV Integration Market



John Day doesn’t start or end his workday wearing colorful tights, a cape and a giant letter on his chest, but this mild-mannered veteran of about a dozen years of selling AV integration could soon be recognized for his role in transforming the industry into a gig economy, if he has his way.

Day launched AV Hero March 21, calling it an on-demand online service for both commercial and residential AV needs. While Day envisioned his new initiative as primarily for end users, he’s already heard from AV integrators and manufacturers asking if they can become his customers too.

“We’re really introducing the gig economy to the AV industry,” says Day. “I feel like it needs a bit of a refresh. We want to emphasize the value of the talented technicians within the industry. Oftentimes, they’re viewed as a commodity. We want to flip that.

“We want the technicians to be empowered. They can build their own business and create a six-figure income for themselves. I don’t think we’re going to replace integrators by any means, do think we’re going to help to build better lives for people and attract a lot more talent,” he says.

Day’s goal for AV Hero is simple: make it easy to get AV help quickly. That vision has proven true so far, as Day recently conducted test runs in five cities across the U.S. for AV Hero assignments and the jobs were all scooped up within 15 minutes.

“We thought about whether it was the right time to start [in late March because of the coronavirus pandemic],” he says. “It’s proven to be a great time because there are so many people looking for work, unfortunately.

“We’ve been able to get people’s attention more effectively and given people some hope. I think we’ve empowered people to go out and create business for themselves rather than hoping someone calls them,” says Day.

How AV Hero Empowers Technicians

Day was inspired to start AV Hero about two years ago when he was sitting in a bar and he wondered how that local restaurant’s staff would handle it if the TVs suddenly stopped working, considering how important they were to the business’ viability.

“The answer I came up with is: I don’t think they would know what to do,” says Day. “I don’t think they would know who to call and it would be more expensive and more complicated than they expected.”

As you might imagine, not everyone can be an AV Hero. First, they have to pass a rigorous custom assessment developed by a 28-year AV veteran as well as a background check.

The assessment, which about 500 of the 1,800 AV Hero applicants have passed so far, includes questions about standard AV and control troubleshooting and break/fix practices and customer service. Applicants are also asked what superpowers they would want.

“[The assessment is] doing a good job vetting the right people,” says Day. “We want to make sure they have some general competencies If we have 25-30 percent pass rate, that’s about what we want it to be.”

Day plans to keep AV Hero in the U.S. for now, although he’s had requests to deploy in South America and Australia. He’s proud of the early success of the platform, which is says is intended to “empower AV technicians.” Eventually, Day expects to add a remote support component, he says.

Day notes the majority of the $75 hourly fee goes to the technicians. Each AV Hero gets their own code and customers can ask for specific technicians by using that code on the site.

“That allows the heroes to build up a referral business,” says Day. “One of the big thing AV industry has struggled with is the talent pool. One of the big dreams I have is AV Hero being a vehicle for students coming out of high school rather than working at Starbucks to pay their way through college.

“It’s a great opportunity for existing technicians and people coming into the workforce,” he says.

From Idea to Reality

Day and his wife risked quite a bit to achieve his vision with AV Hero, including drawing money from his 401(k) and downsizing their living quarters. AV Hero also faced trouble before it started when the app developer Day had worked with for six months wasn’t available when he was getting ready to launch.

A friend introduced him to another developer, who transformed AV Hero to a web application that can be accessed both on mobile devices and desktop computers.

“It’s been a big step of faith, but everything now is going better than we expected,” says Day. “This is my first time starting a company and there’s a lot of unknowns. The biggest challenge we have is awareness. It’s such a new concept to the AV industry.

“As soon as we get people trying the service, I think they’re going to recognize it’s a valuable service,” he says.

Day understands “there’s going to be some pushback” on the AV Hero model, but he’s proud to defend it.

“A lot of AV companies are banking on managed services contracts as the future of profitability in AV, we’re kind of infringing on that to a degree, but generally the feedback we’ve had from the industry has been a lot of excitement,” he says, noting some longtime road warriors applaud the AV Hero concept.

“It’s not just about business. It’s about people having a great life. I think that’s part of why this thing is going to explode,” says Day.

This article originally appeared on our sister publication Commercial Integrator‘s website.

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Gig economy saves Australia’s jobs market, but at what cost?




Don’t be surprised if employers use the recession to employ more casuals and outsource more work.

(Image: Adobe)

There were three messages in the confusing jobs data for August that emerged yesterday from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The headline number was dramatically better than any economist, or even the Reserve Bank or Treasury, had predicted.

The first is, despite the claims from the media and the Morrison government that the Andrews government’s lockdown was some profound act of economic vandalism, Victoria’s jobless rate only moved up to 7.1% from 6.8%, with 42,000 jobs lost in that state last month. Hours fell by 4.8% in Victoria, compared with a 1.8% rise across the rest of Australia.

Now there may well be another big fall in Victoria in the September data as the numbers catch up. There will be a clue in the ABS’s next payroll jobs and wages data next week.

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Collaboration in the Gig Economy keynote




September 17, 2020

Engagement managers already have a much more complex choice than in the past. It’s not just whether to hire a traditional employee to get a job done — the procurement supply chain is much larger. Today’s choices include using a staffing agency temp, engaging an independent contractor, calling in an SOW consultant or turning to an online work platform. And technology continues to bring changes — with Covid-19 speeding up the evolution.

“I would argue that times of crisis and times of change, like we are in today, will help propel the next stage of digital transformation,” SIA President Barry Asin said in a keynote address today kicking off the Collaboration in the Gig Economy virtual conference.

Asin cited technological change wrought by the last recession: In 2007, only 24% of large companies had a VMS in place; by 2010, the percentage had grown to 64%.

Fast forward to today, there was $1 billion in venture capital funding focused on the HR tech space in the second quarter alone.

Large companies that use staffing are turning to tech more and more. SIA data found 43% of large staffing buyers foresee an increase in usage of online staffing/talent pool in the next 10 years. Evolving concepts such as direct sourcing are already used by 30% of buyers, and 49% plan to put a direct-sourcing program in place within the next two years; much of it fueled by new tech offerings.

“I think that what we’re seeing — particularly for the traditional service providers in the talent supply chain — is a real digital transformation, and the current crisis is accelerating that digital transformation,” Asin said. “And it’s accelerating it for all the players involved at the different points of that supply chain.”

Already, 54 million Americans did gig work in 2019, approximately 34% of the workforce, according to SIA data. That amounts to $1.3 trillion in spend with the largest share going to independent contractors. SIA defines the gig economy as including all types of contingent work, encompassing

  • staffing agency temporary workers
  • SOW consultants
  • directly hired temporaries
  • online platform workers
  • independent contractors

The Collaboration in the Gig Economy Conference brings together all parts of the ecosystem to talk the latest trends and advances. Attendees include enterprise buyers, staffing suppliers, VMS/MSP companies, human cloud/on demand platforms and technology solutions providers.

“There is a wave and a transformational change that we are seeing in society,” Asin said. “Many of you are on the leading edge of that change.”

The virtual event continues through tomorrow.

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Australia – Victorian government launches consultation for feedback on its gig economy report




17 September 2020

The Victorian government inviting Victorians to make submissions about all or some of the recommendations into its report on the gig economy.

The Victorian Government first commissioned its ‘Inquiry into the Victorian On-Demand Workforce’ in September 2018 in response to concerns about the wages and conditions of workers in the on-demand or ‘gig economy’.

The Inquiry, which was chaired by former Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James, completed its investigations and submitted a report to Government. The report was published in July 2020.

The two-year investigation found that online platforms such as Uber and Deliveroo in Victoria have deliberately framed their arrangements with workers to avoid regulation while other businesses carry the cost of complying with workplace laws.

While some appreciated the flexibility on-demand work provides, James found the uncertain status of workers, who are not classified as employees and therefore do not qualify for workplace entitlements, protections and obligations, was at the heart of the system’s failures of workers.

The report made 20 recommendations for both the federal and state governments aimed at improving protections for on-demand workers.

The Victorian government stated on its site that all submissions will be treated in confidence to allow people to ‘frankly share their views’. The Victorian Government added that it will consider all feedback received before responding to the Inquiry’s Report.

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