Collaboration; “A Transformative Lens, Not A Start-up Trend.”

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Collaborative consumption has moved from niche market to full economic force, with Forbes declaring in 2013, “The revenue flowing through the share economy directly into people’s wallets will surpass $3.5 billion this year, with growth exceeding 25%”, and funding for collaborative start-ups topping  $7 billion. Instead of merely representing an income boost, the shared creation, production, distribution, trade and consumption of goods and services by different people and organizations is “empowering individuals, corporations, non-profits and government with information that enables distribution, sharing and reuse of excess capacity in goods and services.” (Wikipedia) 

As we’ve often talked about, how big businesses need to adapt to this social economy goes well beyond marketing and customer support. As Jeremiah Owyang (Founder, Crowd Companies Council) states, “It changes the fundamental business models and relationships that we have with our customers. One big change that brands will have to face is that they will have to care about the relationship between customers as they trade and rent your products between themselves.” The opportunities for tapping into the Collaborative Economy are abundant with multiple examples to pull from—we’ve shared many—from the often quoted Lyft and Airbnb, to the lesser known Delta Innovation flights.

Importantly, and as you can see from the figures we pulled from Forbes, the Collaborative Economy is thriving. The challenge for businesses to stay relevant in this new landscape lies in authentically connecting with customers. The question is how? And the answers are too many to fit into this blog post; but this quote from Rachel Botsman articulately expresses a starting point; “The Collaborative Economy is a transformative lens, not a start-up trend.”

Image: Crowd Companies Council

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