The Next Phase of Sharing

Marunouchi - Tokyo - Japan

The first phase of sharing was of media and ideas, we call this social media; the second phase of sharing is the sharing of the physical world, we call this the collaborative economy.

Using powerful technologies like smart phones, mobile apps, payment systems and social networks, people can easily share the following things from the physical world: goods, services, space, and money.

This has upsetting impacts as people can now get what they need from each other, and often without buying it anew, this collection of stats shows how this is spreading across many markets.

It also creates intense friction as power changes hands, as regulators, governments, unions and lobbyists grapple with the power shift that’s powered by the internet.  See this simple news query to see the many stories.

Back to the first phase, social media. If your business card or LinkedIn account lists social as part of your title, congrats, you’ve been a leader in change. Yet we must advance our careers to the next phase of sharing as the physical world starts to be shared –beyond media and ideas.

To prepare for this shift in society, and our careers, we must ask and answer the following question:

“What role do companies play if people get what they need from each other?”

I’m betting my next company on answering that bold question. If you work at a big company that wants to be part of the answer, you can email me at to discuss more.

So there you have it: 1) the next phase of sharing is of the physical world, 2) it has radical impacts to companies, 3) prepare your career now.

(image credits Emmanuel Catteau)

21 Replies to “The Next Phase of Sharing”

  1. Jeremiah – I have a lot of respect for your insight and opinions; you’ve been right far more than wrong over time. That said, I am really struggling to see how the collaborative economy is going to have a significant impact outside the realm of urban privilege.

    One of the big tipping points for social media was when it started cutting across a wide range of socioeconomic groups (eg: Perhaps it’s too early in the cycle for the collaborative economy. On the other hand, check out the attached screen shot of AirBnb in East Palo Alto versus Palo Alto.

  2. I am not sure about the idea of the sharing of things, as distinct from ideas = collaboration economy. However, the question about the role of companies when people get what they want from each other, is a key one.

    My take on this is that it is all about the shift of trust – from institutions into processes (which is a function of liberation from a restrictive means of distribution – which is what the social media revolution is all about). Encyclopaedia Britannica – institution. Wikipedia – process. Newspaper – institution. Citizen journalism – process. Bank – institution. Peer-to-peer lending or crowd-funding – process. Perhaps it should be called the process economy?

  3. Companies can only become enforcement agencies if your vision pans out. In other words, morph into government/regulators – just like in the ages of bartering 🙂

  4. Jereome, thank you for that answer. The can also become enablers, to encourage people to share, this is known as a marketplace. This can help them to scale. (Patagonia, GM/Relayride are doing this now)

    Companies can also offer their products on-demand or in a subscription model. Sell a product a 1000 times vs just once (Toyota and BMW are doing this now)

  5. I think the real opportunity here will be a blend of consumers getting some things they need from each other (services, tasks, used goods) & smart companies innovating to provide unique value to more of their customers.

    The steel industry isn’t going to crumble due to collaborative technologies. But it could benefit from the local awareness and logistics capabilities from these technologies to begin better meeting local & regional market demand.

    Healthcare is undergoing a massive change outside of technology, but opportunities abound to use collaborative tools and social support systems to improve health for individuals. There will be new challenges for healthcare then to bring the data from that world into their own regulated world. Reimbursement pressures may cause this as much as consumers.

    Consumer products stand to be impacted the most in my opinion because of true personalization of products. Unique relationships with customers that feel empowered to take their brands further because they can to the benefit of both.

  6. Richard, you’re onto it!

    What you’re describing is the process in which power is shifting from institutions to the crowd. I agree with you.

    This means, the crowd is becoming like a company. The savvy corporations will enable this trend –not fight it– and then prosper.

  7. Rachel, thank you for the dialog.

    Right now, we’re seeing the adoption in urban areas with technology. Those happen to be mainly the coasts of North America, and also in Western and Northern Europe. Dubai just launched an Uber clone today, and Seoul has deemed themselves the “Sharing city of the world”.

    The interesting thing is, as population increases (about 4b when you and I were born, and will be 9m when we’re in retirement) we’ve no choice but to look at population density as a factor.

    We’re also seeing this desire from millenieals. This reminds me of conversations 8 years ago, “Will social media move beyond silicon valley?” Seems like a silly question today, but it was hot on the lips within the bubble and press.

    Now, back to the “Urban privilege” we’re actually noting the root of this is not limited to density.

    Here’s two examples: I recently spoke with an insurance company from Iowa. They said sharing crops, equipment, time is just being a good neighbor. With electronic and internet connected farm equipment, they can now start to activate these tools even in a very rural area.

    Secondly, odesk and elance and crowdspring tap workers from anywhere on the globe. This means that stay at home working parents can now be active on the workforce, sharing their time and skills to those in busy city lifestyles. There’s a few community management agencies that hire just these folks in midwest America.

    I’m working on an event in Kansas City with my friend Ben Smith, he says making and sharing are rising in the area.

    I hope this sheds some light on urban vs rural.

    I’m open to your ideas on how these services can aid all communities, including East Palo Alto.

  8. For sure ‘the crowd’ becomes more important, but the thing that confers this importance are forms of process – which is why I tend to talk about the shift of trust from institutions to processes (you could call them crowd-based processes if you wish) – rather than a process of shifting power from institutions to crowds.

    Enabling the trend is difficult for many corporations, because it may entail the demise of their business models. We can see, for example, that news is changing from being a finished product to being a raw material. News is becoming a process – which requires management rather than an editor. We need algorithms that can process the whole dataset of news, rather than people sitting at desks consigning the news they think not relevant to the trash. Should the New York Times become an algorithm? How could it manage that transition? Might it not be easier for someone else to create that algorithm, who doesn’t have the baggage of presses and reporters and an editorial mindset?

    Likewise a bank – how can a bank participate in peer-to-peer lending without abandoning all the basic principles we currently associate with the process known as banking (and the institutions known as banks)?

    Tricky questions!

  9. The next sharing will be the exchange of services between costumers, and the engagement of customers in the #Industrie40 #IoT by organizations, and institutions.

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