Talent acquisition in trying times: The Instawork method
At a time when workforce reliability, workplace safety and job security are all being affected by COVID-19, companies are starting to feel the pressure. Addressing these problems through technology that is revolutionising talent acquisition with ‘click-of-a-button’ applications and software, Instawork offers a centralised platform that connects businesses with proven professionals in real-time.
“Instawork is a flexible staffing solution for warehouse manufacturing, food production, and hospitality-based workers,” explains Mike Bohnett, Vice President of Sales and Partnerships. “At heart, we’re a tech company that is aiming to rebuild how staffing works, to better meet the needs of both companies and today’s hourly workforce. Fundamentally, we believe that staffing ─ and specifically temporary staffing ─ is broken.”
At this point, we wondered exactly how the temporary staffing system, which is a tried and tested model, is, to use Mike’s wording, “broken”. The leading-VP was quick to elaborate: “At Instawork, we have spoken to many companies that use contingent labour, and there is a trend in all of our conversations. It seems to be the case that everybody is struggling to find good workers that show up consistently ─ it’s an ongoing saga that never seems to end. As a solution, these companies are piecemealing across several agencies in an effort to get a fraction of what they actually need. That’s frustrating for them; arguably, it’s painful. Whichever word you put on it, one thing is for sure: it’s a costly game of trial and error.”
“Companies the world-over need dependable workers. It’s a necessity to keep the cogs of business turning. So we at Instawork decided to try and find a solution that would ensure the delivery of quality, vetted professionals when needed ─ and we believe that we have managed to build a service that achieves exactly that. Through the Instawork platform, workers can easily pick up shifts at top organisations and get paid quickly afterwards, and they receive reviews from employers, which ups their credibility for any other potential gigs.”
An excellent example of Instawork in action is the company’s close collaboration with Sun Basket, the San Francisco-based subscription meal delivery service. “Sun Basket experienced a huge spike in demand, just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States. They needed extra warehouse labour, and their at-the-time provider couldn’t get it for them, so they looked for an alternative solution and found Instawork.” Subsequently, Instawork was able to onboard Sun Basket in a matter of days and provide a 90% fill rate for its warehouse staff, with an average worker quality score of 97%.
Mike Wargocki, VP of Manufacturing at Sun Basket, helped us contextualise what happens when operations teams are understaffed and what problems it can cause: “The first thing it causes are mistakes. That’s a serious issue because, as we’re making orders for our customers, the key is making sure that quality remains as high as possible.” With understaffing resulting in employees having to perform several roles simultaneously, people can quickly become exhausted and more susceptible to illness, a core concern that Sun Basket, particularly during the pandemic, is diligent to avoid.
Despite what Wargocki calls the “uneven workflow” of the company, even as demand in 2020 grew, he says that Instawork has allowed Sun Basket to meet its staffing challenges with aplomb. “The Instawork team has been amazing because of the quality of workers, as well as the consistency of the fill rates.”
“Using the Instawork platform, Sun Basket has counter-intuitively lowered their overall staffing costs,” adds Bohnett. “In fact, it’s become such a dependable process that Sun Basket’s Warehouse Lead chose to forego adding a full-time team member in favour of his Instawork team. By using a platform like Instawork, Sun Basket is actively empowering its frontline teams with tools to make informed decisions, which aggregates into a high return on investment (ROI) across the company.”
Furthermore, Wargocki makes it clear that he views Instawork as a truly modern company, in step with prevailing workplace trends and employee preferences that will keep it well-equipped to handle the staffing challenges of tomorrow. “The world is moving more and more towards doing everything on your phone. The virtual interaction and the way that we're able to select workers and get data almost instantaneously really makes convenient for us. Plus, that’s where the younger workforce feels more comfortable; they enjoy being able to select a job based on the days they want and not the ones they don't.”
How AWS helps NASCAR delight its fans
AWS needs no introduction to readers of Technology Magazine but we rarely get an opportunity to look closely at how it serves the sports sector. All major sports draw in a huge supporter base that they want to nurture and support. Technology is the key to every major sports organization and enabling this is the driving force for AWS, says Matt Hurst, Head of Global Sports Marketing and Communications for AWS. “In sports, as in every industry, machine learning and artificial intelligence and high performance computing are helping to usher in the next wave of technical sports innovation.”
AWS approaches sports in three principal areas. “The first is unlocking data’s potential: leagues and teams hold vast amounts of data and AWS is enabling them to analyze that data at scale and make better, more informed decisions. The second is engaging and delighting fans: with AWS fans are getting deeper insights through visually compelling on-screen graphics and interactive Second Screen experiences. And the third is rapidly improving sports performance: leagues and teams are using AWS to innovate like never before.”
Among the many global brands that partner with AWS are Germany's Bundesliga, the NFL, F1, the NHL, the PGA Tour and of course NASCAR. NASCAR has worked with AWS on its digital transformation (migrating it's 18 petabyte video archive containing 70 years of historical footage to AWS), to optimize its cloud data center operations and to enable its global brand expansion. AWS Media Services powers the NASCAR Drive mobile app, delivering broadcast-quality content for more than 80 million fans worldwide. The platform, including AWS Elemental MediaLive and AWS Elemental MediaStore, helps NASCAR provide fans instant access to the driver’s view of the race track during races, augmented by audio and a continually updated leaderboard. “And NASCAR will use our flagship machine learning service Amazon SageMaker to train deep learning models to enhance metadata and video analytics.”
Using AWS artificial intelligence and machine learning, NASCAR aims to deliver even more fan experiences that they'd never have anticipated. “Just imagine a race between Dale Earnhardt Sr and Dale Jr at Talladega! There's a bright future, and we're looking forward to working with NASCAR, helping them tap into AWS technology to continue to digitally transform, innovate and create even more fan experiences.”
Just as AWS is helping NASCAR bridge that historical gap between the legacy architecture and new technology, more customers are using AWS for machine learning than any other provider. As an example, who would have thought five years ago that NFL would be using ML to predict and prevent injury to its players? Since 2017, the league has utilized AWS as its official cloud and ML provider for the NFL Next Gen Stats (NGS) platform, which provides real-time location data, speed, and acceleration for every player during every play on every inch of the field. “One of the most potentially revolutionary components of the NFL-AWS partnership,” says Matt Hurst, “is the development of the 'Digital Athlete,' a computer simulation model that can be used to replicate infinite scenarios within the game environment—including variations by position and environmental factors, emphasizing the league's commitment to player safety.”