As I regularly use Uber to get around town; come to WeWork offices every day for work; and book places to stay on Airbnb for my trips around the world, I wonder at what point my life became a cycle of sharing goods and services?
Only a year ago, I was giving a presentation about this topic, the sharing economy, at Festival PATH in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The conference was inspired by SXSW, gathering musicians, entrepreneurs, film producers – directors, artists, researchers, designers, and all sorts of professionals, to interact and learn more about entertainment, culture, and technology trends.
Back then, I was working as a marketing consultant for Sparkplug.it, the community marketplace for musicians to rent instruments, gear, and space from one another. While doing research for my presentation, I discovered a world of companies and initiatives changing the way we think about ownership, and more importantly, shifting our emphasis on owning private property to other concepts more related to accessibility and collectiveness.
When this “collaborative” economy started, many wondered what the appetite would be for people to rent their stuff, or to open their homes to complete strangers. I believe we now know the answer. The power of the sharing economy lies in its ability to connect people with a specific need to a previously untapped supply of goods and services. Mobile enabled, on-demand, customized, and personalized products and services rapidly became our new normal. It makes our lives more convenient, accessing affordable and reliable services, and more importantly, with a trust rating and review system to make our entire experience transparent.
This shift in consumer behavior has driven traditional business players to reinvent themselves (take BMW’s ReachNow as an example). It is also shaping the way businesses interact with one another, sharing under-utilized capacity such as office space, equipment, and data sharing, just to name a few.
The sharing economy has allowed us to build a community, connecting people and enterprises all over the world. We have become more efficient and sustainable through our commercial activities and transactions while sharing. I wonder where it will take us next?