Sharing my thoughts on the collaborative economy

Sharing my thoughts on the collaborative economy

As a part of the South Africa Challenge development process we have all agreed to research a particular trend that we see as important over the next 10 years.

After flirting around with ideas of: big data, virtual currency and 3d printing I decided to focus on a combination of the sharing/ collaborative economy. I find all the topics fascinating but after the LeWeb conference on the sharing economy it is an area I would really like to find more about.

So what is the sharing (collaborative) economy?

The sharing economy is about utilising technology in order to achieve efficiency gains by creating access to under-used goods, services, data and talent. The industry has been pioneered by the likes of AirBnb, Etsy, Task Rabbit and Zipcar. All of these companies work in completely different industries and are all equally disruptive to competitor companies within the industry.

Some examples of the Sharing economy.

Crowdfunding: Off the back of this movement a number of different crowdfunding platforms have been built. A crowdfunding platform allows the audience to support a cause either because they believe in or because of a physical reward they receive. Some of the biggest platforms include Kickstarter and indiegogo which raise millions for the ideas. These platforms have made funding more accessible both in terms of the beneficiary and in terms of the investors.

Virtual Currency: Bitcoin or other similar online currencies is another example of the sharing economy. Bitcoin refers to both the digital unit of stored value and the peer-to-peer network of computers transmitting and validating transactions of these units. The project was publicly launched in January 2009, by a mysterious inventor using the pseudonym “Satoshi Nakamoto,” whose identity is still a mystery. For the first couple of years, it was mostly just a novelty for computer geeks, hackers, and idealistic anarchists. (Coinlab) This technology has become more mainstream during the economy downturn with the distrust in governments and policy makers driving it’s growth. The network is supported by the “crowd” mining for coins which supports the network infrastructure.


So that’s what is happening now but where is it going?

As these industries continue to be disrupted with more and more industries being tackled it seems a matter of time until the concept becomes more mainstream if it is not already. There is an argument that with an economic upturn such industries become less desirable however, the trend towards environmental responsibility should allow it to buck the trend. Collaborative consumption is a growing market but as of yet it is certainly not globally mainstream as such the infrastructure needs to be developed to make it global. There are websites coming up such as collaborative consumption which aim to act as a directory for these services but I think this will develop further in the future.

Further to this, in the developing countries the growth of these type of industries will be vital in the management of their scarcity of resources. This will particularly come relevant in industries such as the automotive and transport industry as a whole due to the current reliance on fossible fuels and other non-renewable resources. However, I feel it will be equally desired in other products and services industries as a part of this desire to maintain/ grow standard of living whilst these resources become more stretched.

To find out more about the industry have a look at my review from LeWeb and make sure to keep up to date with Mesh, Coin Desk and the people who share. As well as researchers of the space such as Jeremiah Owyang.

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