Are collaborative business models driven by sharing economies the way forward?
Businesses thrive in slicing customers into various segments with an objective to maximize their share within the markets they operate and segments they choose to serve. Every business and individual plays the paradoxical roles of both buyer and seller with buying being the more frequent of the two. After all, you can sell only those you produce or excel at with buying pretty much extended to any product or service you need or aspire provided you have the resources to afford.
Essentially, to minimize spend, we all need to master this art of buying. In a conglomerate organized into multiple divisions, usually, to foster economies of scale, buying is consolidated among various functions. But, why should this be limited within an organization? For example, why can’t companies (which may even compete in the same market segment) join hands to enhance their scale economies? How about two global software makers join hands to order their office supplies, plumbing services or going a step further in collaborating to onboard an IT vendor to manage their call center operations?
There is waste in every service or product we try to own 100%. Isn’t this shrewd waste reduction philosophy which led to the rise of sharing evangelists like Uber, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services etc. albeit in different range of sectors vital for the economy and society at large? Just like corporates become conglomerates by pursuing mergers and acquisitions with players complementing/competing, individuals too can grow in strength when they join hands as buyers in-turn ending with a bigger bargaining power with sellers who otherwise are often reluctant to even entertain negotiations with such small, fragmented parties.
It is beyond any reasonable debate to see the immense benefits of this sharing economy model to businesses, individuals and economies as whole. But, for such an ecosystem to thrive, synergy and trust among parties involved is of paramount importance. Cloud services sector had teething troubles with clients not willing to move owing to data safety concerns in their initial years. But, as industry attained maturity state with stricter regulations and stronger safety practices in place, most of the players big and small with reasonable infrastructure needs (and unpredictable up/down demand swings) are happily joining this bandwagon. In the same tone, the likes of Uber and Airbnb have made transportation and holiday rental options far cheaper through their efficient and innovative models in ride sharing and short-term lodging of private properties respectively.
Bottom line is, if all of us have to build or produce everything required for our existence, our society wouldn’t have thrived this long. Industries have mushroomed with new sectors emerging when individuals joined hands in manufacturing, services and every other human pursuit making all our lives much more efficient and easy to handle with.
By sticking to 19th century ownership models, we are putting strains on the limited global resources we have in every spectrum be it minerals, fuels, skills, land etc. The reason for god placing constraints on every aspect of his/her creation might be to witness us beating those very boundaries through our limitless approach in making the most effective and meaningful use of the same for our larger welfare. Applying a collaborative approach focusing on waste minimization is the only plausible means to achieve this. It is time to extend this sharing thinking to other aspects of our businesses and lives.
Mankind has survived over ages by adapting to emerging realities at various stages in its history. Social Living, Industrialization, Computerization etc. are some standing testimonies to this progressive metamorphosis. The next stage of evolution and our collective future lies in adeptly deploying this sharing concept to various other aspects of our lives and sectors beyond transportation, infrastructure, rentals etc. where change has already started for good.
In essence, sharing economy is here to stay with its definitive influence on multiple sectors and need for such an outlook being imperative for organizations operating in every industry.