Collaborative consumption has a firm grip on the global economy, and it’s changing everything. But the business model of sharing – our cars, our homes, our offices – isn’t exclusive to start-ups; it has huge implications for established companies too, and many big brands are beginning to pay serious attention to the trend. It’s all about countering disruption and activating untapped value, says social innovator and foremost authority on the subjectRachel Botsman.
Easier said than done, acknowledges Botsman, who has been helping define the collaborative consumption movement since she coined the concept in 2010. “A key challenge for established brands is to move beyond investments and short-term marketing initiatives, and fundamentally reevaluate their own business models,” she explains in a just-publishedHarvard Business Review article (September issue).
Collaborative consumption has entered a new era since Botsman wrote the book that first introduced the theory and theme to the world – “What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption” (Harper Business, 2010). The biggest and most established brands, from GE to Marriott, are disrupting their models by looking at their future through Botsman’s lens. Others are following suit as she helps leaders apply “collaborative thinking” using her innovation framework, which allows companies to identify where they are most likely to be disrupted, and also how they can disrupt themselves in order to enter or create a new market.
Marriott is capitalizing on an opportunity to make use of underutilized conference rooms and meeting spaces. Its “Workspace on Demand” initiative has the potential to disrupt the entire hotel industry. Other brands are entering the collaborative economy through direct investments and acquisitions (Avis’ acquisition of Zipcar, BMW’s investment in ParkatmyHouse); partnerships with start-ups (Walgreens and TaskRabbit), and even ambitious experiments (DHL and its MyWays app).
“The real power of the collaborative economy is that it can serve as a zoom lens, offering a transformative perspective on the social, environmental, and economic value that can be created from any number of assets in ways and on a scale that did not exist before,” says Botsman. “In that transformation lie threats – and great opportunities.”
Botsman’s insight and influence on collaborative and sharing economics is unparalleled. She will be developing and teaching the world’s first course on the collaborative economy as part of the MBA program at Oxford University’s Saïd School of Business. Founder of the Collaborative Lab, Botsman is highly sought by entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, business school professors and business leaders alike for her expertise and forward-focused perspectives.