Collaborative economy DNA

On Monday, I had the pleasure of being invited to speak at a conference for female entrepreneurs by Brussels Pioneers and Women in Business (Thanks to both of them). The subject was “What is the collaborative economy and what should entrepreneurs be thinking about in terms of their business model?” As I have received lots of requests for a copy of the slides and from people who couldn’t attend, I thought I’d make it the subject of this weeks blog.

We are between two chairs
The first point I wanted to make is that I believe we are moving from capitalism to something else and this is the reason I created Economy2dot0 to begin with. I cannot be sure what that “something else” is but I suspect that co-creation, co-investment and co-laboration will be key components.

We are in transition, the vast majority of the resources remain in the traditional economy with traditional business models. The “new” economy is just being born, with lots of trial and error, lots of innovation and more questions than answers. As such, the presentation I gave is not “The definition of collaborative economy” but simply my definition based on my experience of working in and with collaborative business models (and lots and lots of research on the subject…)Collaborative economy Belgium

I often use the expression that “you cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs” as of course, in any innovation, change or transition, not everything is rosy. The incumbents; taxi drivers, hotels, restaurants and perhaps others who fear disintermediation, are worried about how quickly customer behaviour is changing and their ability to adapt or die. I can understand this. The cheese is moving and there is a fear that they will miss out.

As these guys have a large influence on decision makers, lobbyists are having a field day in trying to ensure that these new innovative business models are controlled, regulated or surpressed. I don’t think this is the best way of addressing the disruption.

One of the people I am working with at the moment @MartinMahaux, recently posting something saying that rather than strike or block roads, why don’t the SNCB just let everyone travel for free and that would really piss off their bosses rather than annoying the customers whose support they are looking for. You are right Martin, it is time to innovate how we strike and it is time for policy makers to innovate how they deal with innovation. Applying old system rules to new systems is naive and counter-productive.

So what about the DNA?

My assertion is that collaborative models will have 4 key components with interdependencies between them:

Shared goal – I simply compared two definitions for the word collaboration. One from one of the oldest and most traditional dictionaries which is Oxford. The second from THE collaborative dictionary which is wikipedia. In the first case, they focus on the act of collaboration. In the second, they focus more on the outcome which is the “shared goal”. If there isn’t a shared goal, what are people collaborating on?

Community – have you tried collaborating on your own? So this seems obvious, you need a community to collaborate with. In business today, we have eco-systems but an eco-system is not a community. Eco-system + shared goal gets you closer to community

Values – I believe that the economy which is emerging is driven by “values” such as respect for the environment, respect for each other etc.. Reducing waste, investing in people, collective intelligence etc… This is what customers are increasingly looking for and that will drive many of the shared goals

Decentralised resources – Uber owns no cars. Facebook creates no content. Airbnb owns no hotels … and this is just the start. The goal of P2P platforms is to put people who need things in contact with people who have them and is resulting in mass disintermediation. This is what is driving crowdfunding where the money is decentralised without going via the bank and crowdsourcing where the help you need comes from new places. There are platforms for virtually everything now. Their role is to facilitate this matching rather than own the resources.

What’s next?

Not only should the resources be decentralised but the benefits should be too and this is not necessarily the case when we look at some of the larger P2P platforms. The fragmentation and proliferation of platforms is also becoming an issue as it makes it more difficult to know where to find what you are looking for and who to trust. I expect some consolidation within local markets for those platforms competing in the same space. We still need to crack the question of “what is the alternative to economies of scale?”. Bref … there is still lots to do.

Attached is a copy of the slides in EN and FR which you are free to share and distribute and of course to contact me should you wish to hear the “live” version in interactive mode!!!!

What is the collaborative economy_FR?

What is the collaborative economy_EN


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