Four business opportunity that remove barriers to the sharing economy – GigaOM
As the sharing economy hits the mainstream it will force businesses to rethink customer acquisition and retention – in a world where the customers, increasingly often, are the business. The sharing economy, where businesses such as Zipcar or Airbnb provider resources or a platform for people to share goods when they need them, is growing thanks to always-on connectivity and real time data.
How big is the sharing opportunity?
Looking around the typical home or business, it’s easy to see any number of under-used assets. Studies of several dozen cities worldwide agree with remarkable consistency that the typical car is parked roughly 95 percent of the time. At home, more than 60 percent of homes house two or fewer people, but about the same percentage of homes have three or more bedrooms. At work, in the server rooms of companies, CPUs are running their clocks on idle at least 90 percent of the time.
It’s not that 100 percent utilization should be a goal, since there is value in keeping some slack. At 95 percent of theoretical capacity, average total time to complete a task (including the wait to begin) will typically be 10 times as long as at a 50 percent average load. A one-hour response becomes an overnight wait.
“One plus spare” is therefore a perfectly reasonable model for many situations – but “base load plus 19x spare capacity” is far more difficult to justify in economic terms.
Overcoming the reasons not to share
Yet, how do businesses encourage people to share? There are four major barriers to sharing, each of which invites a solution in terms of technologies and practices that are clearly feasible and ready to scale.
Ease of discovery
Traditionally, it has been difficult to discover shareable assets that are owned by people who don’t rent things out as a full-time occupation. Close communities, such as student dormitories, have enough needs in common — within a small enough radius — that a simple bulletin board may suffice; in urban neighborhoods, something like Craigslist or Freecycle finds enough density of opportunity to be worth the effort of operation and participation.
Opportunity exists to shift from exclusive use to shared use even in less densely packed communities. A…
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