Let’s take a second to think about how much we lean on apps like Airbnb, Uber and Uber Eats. It is truly amazing to think, how big these brands are and how much we rely on them when in reality five or six years ago, they were just an idea or in the beta test stage.
When Uber launched in New Zealand in 2014, it was a novelty. Only those who had used it overseas understood the luxury of Uber. Now Uber is probably the most important app on your phone, next to Facebook. And don’t get me started on Uber Eats, which has completely changed how restaurants deliver food and our perception of ‘take away food’.
The reason, I say this is due to the launch of Lime Scooters here in New Zealand. We literally can’t walk 500m without having someone wiz by or filing an ACC claim. At the heart of the Lime Scooter revolution is the same idea behind Uber and Airbnb. It’s called the Shared Economy.
In all honesty, the Shared Economy is not really a new idea. In fact, it is more of an umbrella term that is used to explain the marketplace in which an online transaction occurs between two parties.
For example, I use the Uber Eats app, which is the marketplace, to buy a large hunger buster combo from McDonald’s, which is the transaction. The end result, I’m full, Macca’s gets paid and Uber receive a decent cut of the completed transaction. Everyone’s happy.
But, let’s ask ourselves, why these platforms have emerged and taken over our lives. The simple answer is we are lazy and these platforms allow us to continue being lazy.
A tad harsh?
Not really, when you remember that almost every technological advancement or revolution has begun because of our desire to make life easier. And the sharing economy is another spin on that.
The reason why Uber Eats is now valued at over $20 billion USD or why Lime has taken over Auckland’s streets, is because they speak to our lazy nature. Both of them are convenient and are available with a few taps on your screen. Whether it’s the ability to order a three-course meal without having to put clothes on or resting your legs as you scoot to your next meeting, these apps are all about convenience. We are able to access what we need now, use it for as long as we need without being tied to a contract or obligation to purchase. For most of us, it is a win-win.
However, the interesting thing is, this is potentially only the tip of the iceberg. As technology advances and as more people get access to these platforms, the sky is the limit.
It’s not totally out of the realm of possibility that every single industry will be affected by the shared economy in the near future. So in that respect, it’s less a question of ‘if’ and more a question of ‘when’.
As every part of our lives are becoming increasingly impacted by technology, is this the next logical step?
I mean, will there be an Airbnb like app for teachers? Or, for businesses to rent office space? Or will SpaceX design an Uber-like-app for us to rent rockets in five-years? Well, that last one may be a stretch but imagine…
But, take the teaching industry as an example, particularly substitute teachers. Schools still operate off a smallish list of ‘subs’ which they call on when one of the regular teachers is unable to come in. However, the issue with this, these lists are fairly small and what if (for some reason) no one is available?
What do you do with the normal teacher’s classes for the day? You either spilt the class up and put them in other classes, disrupting the normal flow. Or, you get a teacher who is free in that period to take the class, taking away their prep time for their own classes. Chaos essentially.
Now, solve this with an app that allows you to put the call out to qualified and registered substitutes teachers in the immediate area, problem solved. We already see this within the trade industry, with apps such as TRADEE. And at the heart of it, substitute teachers and tradies kind of operate on a similar model, so why wouldn’t it work?
At present, most of the sharing economy is based around a B2C model. However, it will be interesting to see how it can be leveraged from a B2B perspective. With the majority of businesses operating on contractual obligations and KPI’s, the shared economy hasn’t really made an impact.
However, like in our every day lives, in business everything is about getting shit done in the most cost-effective and convenient way possible. So, don’t be surprised if apps or platforms that cater to B2B functions.
There are a number of examples of where these sharing platforms can impact and completely change any industry. And, honestly, there is probably some brainiac already working on an app or system that in a few years time could fundamentally change your industry.
As our day-to-day lives continue to become more dependant on this platforms, it will be interesting to see how far it goes. People are getting lazier and lazier and as the kids of today grow up with Uber Eats and Lime a normal part of their life, it isn’t crazy to think that there will eventually be a sharing app for everything.