Not to be confused with network marketing, market networks are an emerging type of business model aiming to make working life fairer and easier for everybody. By mobilising business communications and securing them on a cloud-based digital platform, market networks enable their users to navigate marketplaces online, connecting with business contacts like friends on a social network. As with previous innovations in office applications and telecommunications, market networks are set to transform existing job management systems for the better.
Accessible using various internet-connected devices, market networks allow their users to communicate with one another while on the go, accepting or updating jobs wherever they may be. Job signatures can be collected electronically on site, and documents such as job sheets and invoices can be safely created using specialised internal formats. Of particular relevance to the HVAC industry, engineers can take photos and videos of any installations they make using a smartphone or tablet, and upload them onto their market network system immediately for employers and customers to see. For businesses looking to speed up the processes of job management and reduce the costs of administration, market networks are undoubtedly the answer.
In the long run, market networks are projected to play an important role in all industries in which the majority of business activities take place elsewhere from where administration happens. For some industries, the e-job management revolution has already begun, and many quick-witted business leaders are already enjoying the benefits of streamlined job management ahead of their competitors. The events industry, for example, has already undergone significant transformation via the emergence of market networks, with market networks HoneyBook in the U.S. and Eventerprise more globally already attracting thousands of new users every year. As a highly technological industry quick to recognise new opportunities made available to it, HVAC is likely to be next.
When compared to neighbouring industries, the HVAC industry has already seen rapid growth in applied technologies over the years, with the adoption of market networks suitably fitting the same pattern. By now, practically all HVAC systems have at least some electronic aspect to their design, with advanced systems even applying artificial intelligence in their regulating of temperatures. Internet connectivity is becoming more and more an expectation of modern HVAC systems, with wireless technologies controlled remotely increasingly becoming the norm.
In facilitating the management of jobs remotely using smartphones and other internet-connected devices, the technology of market networks can be conveniently likened to that of internet-connected HVAC systems. Rather than processing climates, however, market networks are used to process jobs. They don’t raise temperatures—they raise invoices. Accordingly, engineers who are routinely required to learn new skills for the different systems they install would likely be able to learn the mechanics of market networks with only minimal training and without much exertion. After all, user-friendliness and simplicity are often cited as defining features of market networks.
Compared to existing methods of managing jobs, market networks are in fact far more straightforward. Instead of hunting to no end through email servers rife with spam and viruses, market network users can easily recover past job communications by searching dedicated messaging channels specific to each of their contacts. Instead of recording information on paper systems and across various poorly coordinated office applications, all documents are stored electronically so that they are easy to find again. It’s all there together and in the same place.
It’s hard to imagine the working world today without email and office-suite applications such as Word and Excel, yet when it comes to most of the processes of job management these systems are either behind the times or deeply flawed. At great effort and administration costs, businesses have had to learn and apply these systems over the years or risk being superseded. Now there is another way.
While the use of market networks is not yet widespread within the HVAC industry, there are nevertheless several success stories of trade firms using market networks already. HVAC specialists Kingswood Cooling Solutions LTD for example, who use the trades-focused market network Okappy, claim that it’s “very easy on the app to fill in the details, take pictures and get customer signature. It saves us a lot of time”. A more detailed account of Kingswood Cooling Solutions’ story (as well as other case studies on trade firms using Okappy for job management) can be found on Okappy’s website.