AirBnb. Uber. Taskrabbit. It’s no accident that the most disruptive companies of the past few years are those that understand the relationship between the sharing economy – a movement that sees users draw on the power of technology to share human and physical resources – and meteoric growth. Whether it’s matching travellers with accommodation options tailored to local encounters, offering a taxi alternative that’s both wallet-friendly and customer-centric or connecting consumers with reliable service providers minus the stress of gathering quotes, these companies have invested in ideas such as social recommendations, customer experience and agility and upended entire industries in the process.
Sharing is the New Buying, an infographic produced by Crowd Companies and Vision Critical, outlines the ways in which collaborative consumption, a utopian concept that once recalled hazy ideas about food co-ops and communal living, came to play a central role in consumer behaviour. The infographic found that 80 million people in the US and 23 million in the UK regularly engage in the collaborative economy and over 80% were satisfied with the quality, value and experience delivered by their last sharing transaction.
In The Future of the Sharing Economy is a World Built like Bitcoin, a June 2014 article in Entrepreneur magazine, Catherine Clifford makes some interesting predictions about the future of collaborative consumption. Clifford believe that as users become even more connected to each other via technology, we’ll see peer-to-peer networks operate without a central regulatory body or middleman intent on taking a fee – an idea with massive implications for the way we see business in the digital age. For companies used to the old way of doing things, reimagining the value chain, throwing away tired ideas about ownership and investing heavily in the customer experience can pave the way towards competitive edge.