Every 6 years there is a new trend hitting the digitizing process that the Internet is introducing everywhere in the economy. The first one was the Web itself, later came the portals with its dotcom stock bubble and in 2006 the Web 2.0 concept conquered the net. Since last year there is a new shift called Social sharing (also collaborative economy) and it’s even more revolutionary than the ones before.
Entrepreneurs are creating new businesses in which they put people in touch in order to deliver services and send products directly. Social technologies, peer to peer (P2P) platforms and reputation systems make this possible. So no more intermediaries and no need to own objects which you only use temporarily, such as a car, a dress or a house for holidays.
I have being adding new ones every week to my personal list, but not as many as analyst Jeremiah Owyang has compiled. He is founder of Altimeter Group and is really focusing his work on the collaborative economy, to the point that he’s coined this term. He is to social sharing what Tim O’Really was to Web 2.0. His blog posts are a must for anyone who is interested on what is changing right now on the Internet from a business point of view.
He’s even advising big companies on how to approach the sharing economy if they don’t want to be thrown away of the game, as newspapers have because of Web 2.0. He’s specially concerned by the fact that people don’t trust corporations any more and do prefer to buy things from each other. Sharing goods is just as good (and much cheaper) as owning them. Some people even talk of a Renting economy.
Another risk for large corporations is that through the Collaborative economy anybody will be able to offer its products and services bypassing them. This is another push towards an entrepreneurial society in which jobs are not created by multinational companies but by each one of us inventing something where we have a personal advantage or underused asset we can rent out in the market. Social technologies make this possible.
Besides, ecological concerns are taking humanity to reduce needless consumption. Our Planet has grown too much and more and more developing countries are increasing the revenues of their citizens, which forces us to find more sutainable ways of living. The sharing economy provides an interesting alternative to mass production.
Finally, there are productivity and efficiency improvements to be taken into account. Buying and owning everything does not make sense from an economic and social perspective. This has been explained very well by Spanish entrepeneur Marc Vidal:
“Consumption is falling down. A new low-cost microburgeoisie of millions of people can live with just 1,000 euros/month. They are satisfied with eating at McDonald’s, travelling with EasyJet and buying furniture at Ikea”.
As it’s clear, I am a big believer in the collaborative economy, as I was in Web 2.0. So here is a comparison of both trends:
– Main industries affected: media and entertainment, marketing
– Main apologists: Tim O’Reilly
– Main players: Facebook, Twitter
– Main industries affected: manufacturers and real estate owners
– Main apologists: Jeremiah Owyang, Tom Friedman (who coined the Sharing economy term) and the authors of “Share or Die“, Malcolm Harris and Neal Gorenflo
– Main players: Lyft, Airbnb