OK, now it’s official! The sharable economy has arrived! How do I know? Easy: Tom Friedman told me! Breathless as ever, he offers an engaging genesis tale of AirBnB, and concludes “This is powerful.”
And indeed it is—though it’s not a new idea at all. (Amory Lovins asked, years ago, “why do I need to own a drill when what I really need is a hole?”)
This is powerful because it heralds a revolution in capacity utilization—and thus in resource intensity—and opens up a wide array of new ways to deliver value and make money.That’s the good news. But it brings challenges as well. When I predicted last December that “Collaborative Consumption” would be one of the Top Sustainability Stories of 2013, I wrote:
The business challenge—what happens to Detroit if the US needs one-tenth the number of cars?—opens business opportunity, as Ford announced a strategic alliance with ZipCar. But it also raises macroeconomic challenges: dramatically better capital utilization will help lower environmental footprint, but the national economy faces tectonic shifts if the auto industry—currently responsible for one-sixth the jobs—is forced to radically reinvent itself.
How will your company address these challenges and opportunities? As I wrote this spring,
If some of the most significant companies in the world didn’t even exist a decade or so ago, what will your industry look like a decade from now? Will some upstart disrupt the ground out from under you? Or will you burn your own bridges, and reinvent your own future?
Collaborative consumption is just one of the disruptive innovations capturing attention these days. 3D printing is another. There are many more around the corner—even though they not yet be front of mind at your company.
You’ve only got two choices that I can see regarding disruptive innovation: either disrupt your own industry, or wait and have it done to you.
Maybe we should talk.