Peer-to-peer archetype Airbnb is poised to become the world’s largest hospitality chain, upending hotel giants like Hilton and Marriott. And, despite its legal battles, it’s achieving legitimacy with cities like Portland issuing short-term rental permits to owners.
As the BBC recently reported, “In San Francisco, ride-sharing services like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar have decimated the taxi business. A report by the city’s Municipal Transportation Authority found a 65 percent drop in taxi rides from January 2012 to July 2014.”
But the sharing economy’s implications are further reaching than these peer-to-peer models hitting the market at breakneck speed.
Technology has empowered everyone to have their voices heard worldwide for free in HD and on the go. The companies that understand that consumers live in a technology-enabled, auto-sharing universe and focus their entire organizations on this reality will evolve, prosper and leave their competitors behind in the dust.
Sharing the World’s Information As it’s Created
Google’s mission is “organizing the world’s information.” It may sound like a lofty goal, but we’ve gone well beyond it. More than organizing information, now we want to share it — from our hopes and dreams to our fears and opinions to the way we live our lives.
And most importantly, we are easily, quickly and around-the-clock on email, social media, an ever-growing number of platforms, channels and applications and even via the bourgeoning use of sensors and networked Internet of Things.
It may feel like a distant memory, but 15 years ago none of this was possible. The sharing infrastructure was expensive and concentrated in the hands of a few. If you shot a film, you needed a major studio like Warner Bros. to distribute it. If you had a complaint about your McDonald’s hamburger, you had to go through corporate channels. If you had heart disease, you talked to your doctor and your family, but there was no easy way to share stories with others struggling with the same diagnosis.
Now, the web lives not only in the palms of our hands, but also in NFC chips in our orange juice cartons and sensors in heart-rate monitors. People open their lives to the rest of us all day every day. And whether you’re telling the world your profound ideas, personal medical information, or your review of the HDMI cable you bought on Amazon, these publicly exposed tidbits are impacting the world in new and profound ways
Sharing Every Thought, Thing and Service
And now we’re sharing what we own and can do for each other: our homes, cars, bikes, medicines and ability to create videos, draft business proposals and design logos.
Think about the difference an app like HelpAround can make, enabling diabetic patients to search for people nearby who may have an extra glucose meter, test strips or glucose tabs.
As collaborative economy evangelist Jeremiah Owyang blogged, “Social networks were the first phase of digital P2P. They enabled anyone to create media and then share it. The Collaborative Economy is the second phase. It enables anyone to create goods and share what they already own.”
The Share We Breathe
So, where are we headed? As sharing becomes automatic, it also becomes more nuanced and the channels become aware of how you live your life.
It’s great to open up your calendar on your phone and see your what time your meetings are, but it’s better if the app automatically knows where you are and tells you how long it will take to get to your next meeting.
Uber, for example, took map data to make a contextually aware marketplace for transportation services. Riders know where cars are to get an exact pickup time, while drivers become aware of the optimal place to park to be near their next fare.
The truth is, sharing will reach an unprecedented volume — whether you like it or not. Let’s welcome the disruption with open arms.