Interviewed by Jayne Gest
Staying legally compliant is an ongoing challenge for business owners, especially when disruptive regulations like California's Assembly Bill 5, or gig worker bill, pass swiftly with little time for feedback.
AB 5 is aimed at Uber and Lyft but could hit a number of companies that rely heavily on independent contractors. The bill went from nonexistent to being passed in a 30-day window. While companies are fighting hard to overturn it, the law is a good case study for how technology can step in when you're reeling.
Smart Business spoke with Sudhir Achar, CEO at EOX Vantage, about how digital transformation can help with such business challenges.
How do laws like AB5 play into business operations?
Though a Superior Court judge ruled in January that they are exempt from the gig economy law, if appealed, under AB 5 thousands of independent contractors could potentially be reclassified as employees. This means companies would need to provide solutions that help independent contractors meet the law's requirements to remain compliant - like incorporating and maintaining their independent status - or else bring them on as employees. In addition, a handful of states are considering similar legislation.
Regardless of whether AB 5 stays in effect long term, the law means companies are scrambling to ensure their operation will stay compliant because it changes how they need to interact with certain parts of their business. The law also impacts many more companies than lawmakers intended - and unintended consequences are a common occurrence with many regulations.
How can companies deal with new, changing or restrictive regulations?
Regulation, which can be reactionary, often drives innovation. While sometimes legislation is talked about ad nauseam, other times actions can happen vigorously and swiftly and completely transform a business model.
All regulation requires companies to track and maintain relevant information showing compliance, so there is something available for auditors if they come knocking. Automated technology and digitization help companies track and maintain that complex data without adding resources, such as additional employees. They make sure businesses keep pace with changes to their business condition, especially in a heavily regulated industry like transportation, where there's a lot of paperwork.
Does digital transformation apply to more than just regulatory changes?
Utilizing technology to govern and streamline data doesn't just apply to regulations that may need to be audited in the future. Proactive, smart executives explore using technology like an enterprise operating system (EOS) to improve how they operate every day.
An EOS platform facilitates the rapid delivery of workflow automation for virtually any paper-based or electronic process in days, as opposed to weeks or months with other platforms. In one example, a logistics provider wanted to automate the process of onboarding more than 4,000 independent contractors. The process had been paper-based and processed manually. It also required duplicate data entry that cost the company valuable time and money.
By adding EOS technology, the logistics provider could have independent contractors walk themselves through the verification process and purchase their own insurance. What used to take four to eight hours became 30 seconds, and the streamlined process helped the business have more capacity to move trucks and build revenue. In addition, the software included safety videos so each time a driver had a claim, they were automatically prompted to complete a safety program to remain compliant.
The need for this kind of digital transformation is something that many businesses face in their typical operations. When you add the burden of regulations to that, it only makes sense to talk to experts about utilizing technology to reduce your operational costs, improve your quality and boost your revenue.