Afternoon Coffee: Utmost announces new workforce solution; Amazon Web Services just got smarter; Unilever to cut plastic use in half by 2025

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Unilever, the maker of Dove soap, Ben & Jerry's ice cream and numerous other consumer brands, has pledged to cut its plastic use in half by 2025, according to a Bloomberg report via Industry Week. The CPG giant said "it will reduce its overall use of plastic by 100,000 tons yearly and step up recycling to achieve the goal," according to the article.

Boeing 737 MAX faces further delays

"Due to heightened European safety concerns about portions of proposed fixes to flight-control systems," the beleaguered 737 MAX faces even more headwinds to return to the air, according to the WSJ. "The European Union Aviation Safety Agency recently told senior U.S. regulators it wasn’t satisfied that FAA and Boeing officials had adequately demonstrated the safety of reconfigured MAX flight-control computers, according to people briefed on the discussions," the paper reports.

Utmost is launching its Extended Workforce System

Utmost, a San Francisco-based start-up, announced that it has launched its first solution, Utmost Extended Workforce System. Utmost was founded in 2018 by two former Workday executives, and it has been developing its solution in stealth mode until this week. The company also announced separately that it has raised $11.2 million in Series A financing led by Greylock Partners, with participation from Workday Ventures.

According to the announcements, Utmost Extended Workforce System helps enterprises and their contingent workers – freelancers, contractors, temps, outsourced resources, and consultants – to engage and seamlessly and efficiently work together. The solution has been designed “with extended workers in mind, enabling them to have control of their data and transparency into their work history, independent of traditional employment relationships.”

Utmost Extended Workforce, according to the announcements, enables companies to gain visibility into their extended workforce and provides both managers and extended workers with  “an intuitive workflow – instead of spreadsheets and siloed legacy systems – to manage onboarding and offboarding, and the entire worker lifecycle.” In addition, companies can use Utmost to help ensure compliance with corporate policies and complex workforce regulations.

Utmost indicated that it will continue to add to its solution set, specifically noting that it is “building solutions and partnerships specifically for extended workers across health, wealth, and administrative services so they can better participate in this shifting economy.”

Sarah Guo, partner at Greylock, was quoted as saying: “Companies in every sector engage with an extended workforce, but the rigid and clunky systems used to manage that workforce are stuck in the past. Utmost is a cloud solution for the modern, flexible enterprise, and offers a worker-centric approach to manage this population that enterprises previously lacked.”

Spend Matters will be providing a deep dive into Utmost and its Extended Workforce System in a soon-to-be-published post.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) announces independent expert offering

Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced the launch of AWS IQ, “a new service that helps customers quickly find, engage, and do business with AWS-Certified third party experts for on-demand project work,” according to the release. AWS IQ also provides a “set of tools and workspace for more secure collaboration, streamlined project tracking, and integrated billing.”

According to the announcement, AWS IQ customers “simply log in and describe their project needs in a few sentences” and can then communicate with experts to “clarify details of the project, compare proposals, review expert profiles, and select the expert that best fits their needs.” Customers and experts can “agree to a defined scope of work and budget, and manage the entire process using AWS IQ’s integrated tools for encrypted chat, video conferencing, billing, and more,” the release stated.

Customers can, according to the announcement, “temporarily grant experts project-appropriate access to their AWS environment, monitor activity through AWS CloudTrail logs, and revoke access at any time.” Customers can also approve payment requests and payments are billed directly to their AWS account (which seems to imply that AWS will disburse the payments to the experts).

According to a recent Forbes article, “Amazon charges 3% of the payment made to an expert found via Amazon IQ. It also charges a fee of 15% to the experts for each project. So, when an expert proposes a $1,000 fixed bid fee, Amazon charges $1,030 ($1,000 + $30) to the customer while paying $850 ($1,000 - $150) to an expert.”

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