Is There a Market Gap for a ‘Slack For Non-Desk Workers?’

Data Scout is LSA’s series that curates and draws meaning from third-party data. Running semi-weekly, it adds an analytical layer to the industry data that we encounter in daily knowledge building. For LSA original data, see the separate Modern Commerce Monitor™️ series.

There’s lots of attention and innovation focused on productivity for the knowledge workers of the world. That’s led to everything from Slack to PowerPoint. But what about the larger addressable market of non-desk workers? In many cases, they need similar productivity or collaboration tools.

When we say ‘larger market,’ that happens to the tune of 80 percent of the world’s workforce, according to Beekeeper, also reported by TechCrunch. The data accompany Beekeeper’s $45 million series B funding that closed last week. It will use the funding to address this very same market opportunity.

Positioning itself as a sort of Slack for blue-collar workers, it provides workforce collaboration tools that are purpose-built for field workers. That of course means its a native mobile UX to access key info from a job site. We’re talking everything from job parameters to reference and communication tools.

But most of all, it borrows from the Slack playbook in having a group messaging architecture that can be splintered into various thematic channels or groups. Just like in a project context in the white-collar world, these channels could map to specific jobs or remote job sites in the blue-collar world.

This could represent a big gap today. It not only targets a large total addressable market (TAM) of about 1.7 billion individuals but it’s mostly untapped. There are some vertical-specific tools out there but Beekeeper’s biggest competition is likely SMS… just like Slack’s biggest competition was/is email.

But it won’t necessarily be easy. Though non-desk workers are a larger global TAM, they also represent a less savvy and adoptive psychographic for software tools and tech in general. If Beekeeper is to succeed, it will have to make it a dead-simple UX, and play on the target market’s sensibilities.

Moreover, it will have to solve real pain points, rather than being a top-down “solution in search of a problem,” As we’ve examined in light of mobile payments, changing habits requires addressing true pain points. That’s in a consumer context, but field workers will have similar adoption dynamics.

In that sense, field workers will also likely mirror the psychographics of SMBs in needing tech tools for productivity gains. But they’re also less savvy and adoptive in the aggregate, which is the crux of the challenge for tech vendors that want to bring SMBs cloud-based productivity software and services.

As for what field workers’ pain points are, that’s where Beekeeper’s product roadmap and UX design come into play. If it can put its finger on the biggest pain points, it can build something that gains traction. That will likely involve saving time and getting the information they need while in the field.

This principle could support Beekeeper’s vertical orientation. Compared to Slack’s horizontal play it has forked its product for a few key verticals like hospitality, manufacturing, retail and construction. This likely avoids a lowest common denominator feature set and addresses vertical-specific pain points.

LSA’s Modern Commerce Monitor survey data also support this strategy. Fielded with Thrive Analytics, the data indicate that 50 percent of SMBs prefer to work with software providers that have vertical specialization. This is most pronounced in specialized verticals such as healthcare and home services

Beekeeper’s growth could also benefit from network effect. If it can get itself to a certain point of enterprise adoption, growth can self-propel in terms of workers’ impetus to adopt. And the value of the experience grows with each additional user, just as we see in the corporate world with Slack.

Whether it’s Beekeeper or another company that ends up filling this gap, it’s a huge opportunity. It will have to look out for bigger fish that are eyeing this same massive TAM, including Salesforce or even Slack itself.  Though a tougher market to penetrate than the corporate world, the payoff is much larger.

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