Collaborative Economy As A Critical Component Of Business Strategy

As hype continues over the dangers and impermanence of the collaborative economy, it has been interesting to see major corporate behemoths get in the ring.

As 2016 unfolds, news about companies ranging from Ford to Boeing placing sharing as a critical component of business strategy as opposed to passing gimmick or fad, has been rampant.

What’s even more interesting however is noting how the very principles of sharing propelling our economy today have been used throughout history by business visionaries. Used by true innovators who understood that coming together for the greater good was always an effective way to disrupt the status quo with an eye toward creating a better tomorrow.

As Tech Crunch recently reported, DHL, a bastion of global shipping, started when they offered people free airline tickets in return for courier services. This model was based on innovation centered around collaboration, and is a testament to the endurance of business strategies centered upon the collective we over the singular me.

This sharing idea launched a global shipping giant and introduced the idea of containerization to the world. Not so different than what sharing economy leader Nimber is doing today, four decades later, with further reimagined courier modeling.

The history of DHL is also a testament to the power of how disruptive collaborative centered models have the power to actually skirt the inherent power of monopolies. In the case with DHL, the postal system.

Isn’t it therefore ironic that sharing economy opposers continue to cite insurmountable regulation hurdles as reasons to why the new economy must be stopped, when in essence the core of collaborative consumption is at it’s heart a mechanism for taking the power out of the hands of the few and placing it in the hands of the many? DHL was born from a disruption designed to circumvent failed regulation: postal monopoly anyone?

Clearly the world is taking note of this irony with not just big business but everyone from students at the University of Virginia, (http://www.cavalierdaily.com/article/2016/02/doyle-dont-overregulate-sharing-economy) to governments as far flung as Australia and Japan (http://www.wsj.com/articles/japan-slowly-opens-the-door-to-the-sharing-economy-1455008405) pushing for relaxed regulatory mandates that work to put in place necessary guardrails, while not diminishing the awesome potential good our new collaborative economy can proffer.

Innovation vs. regulation is a titanic struggle as old as David vs. Goliath. Hopefully this round will go to the collective WE with a world where unfettered innovation centered around sharing is the right of anyone willing to be a contender.

Billee Howard is Founder + Chief Engagement Officer of Brandthropologie, a cutting edge communications consulting firm specializing in helping organizations and individuals to produce innovative, creative and passionate dialogues with target communities, consumers and employees, while blazing a trail toward new models of artful, responsible, and sustainable business success. Billee is a veteran communications executive in brand development, trend forecasting, strategic media relations, and C-suite executive positioning. She has a book dedicated to the study of the sharing economy called WeCommerce due out in Fall 2015 as well as a blog entitled the #HouseofWe dedicated to curating the trends driving our economy forward. You can read more about “WE-Commerce: How to Create, Collaborate, and Succeed in the Sharing Economy” right here!


Originally published at brandthropologie.com on February 17, 2016.