How Technology Is Changing Our Economic Models

I was having lunch with a colleague the other day and as we commiserated about the state of this new and crazy world we live in, the discussion shifted to doing less with more.  And the question arose if technology is allowing us to live in a world where we don’t need to own as much anymore because there is now an intricate community with people who will share or provide services. 

There is a new organizational paradigm that is happening. It is actively transforming how we build businesses, how we work and how we create economies. If we think about crowd sourcing, Web 2.0, all that stuff, people are empowered. And many say this is “because of the internet.” But that lacks specificity. Actually what's happening is we're leveraging excess capacity, building platforms for participation that organize and simplify the work of these collaborating peers.

We have this new, deep collaboration that's very resource-efficient -- ‘resource’ meaning people, money, assets, networks -- where companies or governments or institutions are doing only what they do best. Transaction costs have now lowered. Dealing with many small parts is no longer an irritating thing. You don't have to bring it internally. And the “peers” in a peer economy -- which can be people or devices -- are each doing what they do best.

So we have this new collaboration that's incredibly powerful and has speed, scale, a high pace of innovation, and adaptability. This organizational paradigm matches our times. The global economy is moving at a very high pace of change. And this structure enables you to iterate and experiment, adapt and evolve, really quickly to match that pace.

It also changes the power structure. If you think about capitalism, it was based on scarcity and hoarding of assets, like trademarks, intellectual copyrights, secrets. This new economy is saying, actually, open shared assets deliver way more value than the old way. It is a fact.

The collaborative economy is larger than the sharing economy. The sharing economy feels to me like it's about assets. The collaborative economy is everything. It’s making clear and visceral to us that, if I can have real-time access not just to hard assets, but to people, to networks, to experiences, it means that the way I do my own personal life is completely transformed. I don't have to do any hoarding.I don't have to be worried about having stuff and owning it. I can start to rely on the fact that I can reach out and find the right person at the right moment. That dramatically transforms how you live. Instead of on-demand cars, it's an on-demand life, in a much larger fullness.

What a wonderful world we now live in…