Archive for June, 2014

12 Collaborative Services for Success at Work


This post was originally posted on Shareable, the leading website on the growing movement. Top photo credit: Yusuke Kawasaki.

The collaborative economy empowers ordinary people to share their unused resources, such as time and goods, often in a peer-to-peer commerce model. We tend to think of this model impacting us as individuals, as illustrated in the popular Honeycomb graphic. However, shared services (many of which I use) aren’t limited to personal use. The collaborative economy model is expanding to include these strategies and technologies at the B2B level. See my quick guide on how companies are integrating them into their own strategies.

This successful expansion of applications begs the question, “Can the sharing model work for individual professionals?” Not only will it work, it already does work. Now that these services are available for personal use, we’re also seeing them expand into the business world. These services help professionals outsource tasks in their work life so they can focus on their core responsibilities and competencies.

Here’s a list of collaborative economy services targeting business professionals. As you’ll see, this market isn’t just about ride sharing and home sharing. If you know of other similar services, please share them as comments below.

Fon hotspots in Paris, France. Photo credit: NRKBeta.

  1. AirPR: On-demand PR professionals in two-sided marketplaces of providers and communication buyers, AirPR tracks actionable insights into what is, or is not, driving engagement.
  2. CloudPeeps: On-demand community managers, ready to help your company scale up for launches or during seasonal periods. CloudPeeps provides the services of experienced professionals to assist with everything from startups and small businesses to mature enterprises on an as-needed basis at a fraction of the cost of a full-time manager.
  3. PeerSpace: Does your team need a creative or inspirational workspace? PeerSpace offers both sides of the unused space sector, bringing together those who need workspace with those who have unused space. There’s even an app for that.
  4. Zirtual is a virtual executive assistant service that matches busy people with dedicated personal assistants to manage details so that you don’t have to.
  5. Trunk Club: Are you a busy, male executive who wants to present yourself as stylish and professional?Personal stylists are available to help you look your best. Trunk Club sets up a profile for you, then saves you time by sending you a new “trunk” of clothes selected especially for you on a regularly scheduled basis. Keep and pay for what you like. Return the rest. It’s shopping at its best.
  6. Refashion your clothes. Female executives have access to a million dollar wardrobe, yet keep expenses low and closets manageable. See ThreadflipBag Borrow or Steal and Rent the Runway.
  7. CrowdSPRING and 99designs can help create your new website, microsite, logo, or PowerPoint presentations and make them look amazing using crowd-sourced experts.
  8. oDeskthe world’s largest online collaborative workspace, and Elanceproviding access to more than two million skilled, independent contractors, bring together savvy professionals and professional freelancers, offering a large market of workers that can help you with copy editing, online research, translating, digital production, programming, administrative work and much more.
  9. Breather. Need a place to work? Executives will like Breather, an online repository of beautiful, private places to work, meet, or relax in several big cities. This is a step up from the more pervasive Regus (over 2,000 locations worldwide) or a loud coffee shop.
  10. Sprig delivers inexpensive hot meals on demand to you or your employees, or you and your boss, or you and your family, within a few minutes in the San Francisco area. This is not fast food. These are hand-crafted meals created by former Google executive chef Nate Keller. And, yes, there is an app for this service, too.
  11. Fon offers free, shared Wi-Fi in over three million locations.
  12. Shapeways: Get custom-made, 3D printed, products, or gifts for your customers and colleagues including jewelry, miniatures, desk accessories, and art.

The collaborative economy is exploding, reaching into all areas of life and work. These services enable any professional to have access to a broad marketplace of talent without having to hire them on a full-time basis. On the flip side, it enables the providers to set their own schedule, work on projects they want, and have more control over their work life balance. Even the invention of sliced bread was not as good as this.

Tesla Lets Go, to Gain the Market


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Can a corporation let go, in order to win it all?

Tesla has deployed a business strategy we call “Provide a Platform” which enables your ecosystem to design, build, enhance, fulfill, support your own products for you.

Tesla, who’s already a market leader in their category, made a surprising move, by releasing their patents as open source.  This move patterns co-innovation moves we see from companies in the Collaborative Economy that are partnering with their own customers to create products like GE+Quirky, Barclay’s Card Ring, and others companies that I share from my presentations.

This also show’s Tesla’s commitment towards social good, as Musk writes that most car companies only have a fraction (1%) of their sales as electric vehicles. He writes, “It is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis.” In essence, he wants everyone else to help.

For Tesla, this fosters an ecosystem of makers, hackers, developers, and partners around their brand, growing their position in the ecosystem as Tesla will become the standard of the electric vehicle (EV) industry.  Why would a dominant player let go? This enables others to build on top of their platform in order to replicate, enhance, and improve existing Tesla vehicles.

What are the additional business benefits? commenters on Facebook point out that by securing the industry building off their spec, Tesla is in a dominant position to upsell other value added services such as batteries, super charging stations, and other services.

What all companies can learn from this unprecedented move:

  1. In this new world, partnering with your crowd is the tenet of the Collaborative Economy.
  2. Providing a platform so the ecosystem can build on top your specs enables new innovation.
  3. Companies can scale as the partners around them deliver additional capabilities.
  4. Companies can secure their place in the ecosystem by offering value added services.
  5. Demonstrate true commitment to a mission by enabling anyone to participate.

Tesla, by being open, secures their own architecture as the industry standard, assuring their place in the electric vehicle market. Companies who let go, gain new innovation from their crowd, securing their place in the ecosystem.

Incredible business move, and incredible potential for a collaborative planet.



Don’t Protest the Collaborative Economy –Lead It


Step up

Yesterday, thousands of infuriated taxi drivers across dozens of European cities brought transportation services to a standstill. The taxis launched the “Escargot Protest” intended to stopped traffic in objection to Collaborative Economy startups Uber, Lyft and other similar startups. While they raised global attention, they lost a day’s wages, angered their own customers who were seeking to commute and, ironically, caused an 850% increase in Uber business, making Uber a trending term in UK, resulting in government officials mocking the taxi drivers.

The taxi protest against the Collaborative Economy backfired – it made Uber more popular than ever!

Cooler minds prevailed. Neelie Kroes, a VP of the European Commission, wrote a seminal post stating: “In the sharing economy – like drivers, accommodation hosts, equipment owners and artisans – these people all need to pay their taxes and play by the rules. And it’s the job of national and local authorities to make sure that happens.”

The Collaborative Economy movement is spreading to every industry: There are 9,000 startups in the space and they’re heavily funded, backed by the most powerful technology companies in the world, with a growing desire for faster and cheaper services. In fact, this recently published Honeycomb Framework I published shows the next verticals who will be impacted.

This P2P commerce is the most significant disruption ever seen in business. The people formerly known as a business’ customers – are now competitors.

The CEO of an SF Taxi company says they only have 18 months left. That’s just enough time to adopt the same strategies and technologies as these tech startups (which are financially backed by Google, VCs, and which use powerful technologies from Facebook, Apple, and Samsung).

So what should taxi companies do? They could continue to adopt the on-demand technology from companies like Flywheel (who I’m visiting tomorrow), but they also need to launch their own marketplaces of drivers and trucks using tools from Near-me or Localmotion, or build their own. They need to understand how to promote accountability by enabling customers to rate drivers and experiences. Then they need to retain and reward those who perform well and either retrain or release those who do not.

About a year ago, I published a research report that showed the business models needed to succeed in this market.  Six months ago, I launched Crowd Companies, which connects big brands to leaders, startups, and communities in the Collaborative Economy.

Let’s recap: European Commissioner Neelie Kroes’ final line in her post, which states: “It’s time to face facts: Digital innovations like taxi apps are here to stay. We need to work with them not against them.” I very much agree. If you’re protesting the Collaborative Economy, it is proof you’re late to the party. Change your business model now and lead this movement.

Dear Businesses: Don’t protest the Collaborative Economy – adopt it, then lead it.

Related: respected Robin Chase, founder of Zipcar and Buzzcar, writes about Cooperative Capitalism. Also, former executive at an auto company, Scott Monty shares how Taxis are fighting in an unconventional battlefield.

(image used via creative commons by George Pauwels)


Here Comes the Collaborative Economy Customer Score


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Move over Klout. Move over Fico. The new score is the Collaborative Economy Customer Score.

Today, a ground-breaking deal was struck between Uber and Amex (a few days ago, they received millions of dollars from Fidelity). You can use your Amex loyalty points to pay for rides. When you use your Amex card to pay for transactions, these glean additional two times the loyalty points. But all that’s just table stakes. What is really important is that this pushes aside fuzzy and squishy social media metrics to reveal what really matters: finding out the metrics of behaviors and peer-to-peer trust, backed with factual financial data.

The Collaborative Economy is based on peer-to-peer commerce, which results in increased transactions at a local/mobile level and, likely, with higher trust. The collaboration between Uber and Amex enables the construction of metrics to measure the value of this new type of customer.

The new Collaborative Economy Customer Score provides insights never before combined:

  1. Customer ratings. Uber drivers rate passengers – we know who the best customers are – and who’s not worthy for a late night ride.
  2. Provider quality. Like Yelp and eBay, customers can rate the drivers, a social metric. .
  3. Local transaction data. Since these transactions are happening at a local level, they provide data regarding traffic routes and times, and can, therefore be used to accurately predict when and where people use Uber’s services.
  4. New loyalty data. Since Uber and Amex are sharing their data and rewards, they lock in a powerful new relationship.
  5. A new perspective. When combined with traditional financial data like loyalty points, credit scores, and net worth, we can have a powerful new insights into customer behaviors.

Putting all five data points together, it means we can marry traditional financial data with customer and provider ratings, and forecast network behaviors at a local level. The combined insights can help us predict who’s likely to spend more money, with less friction in the transaction –and for top brands that’s important.  This data is likely more accurate than Facebook data as it’s directly tied to actual commerce.

Just some other data points: Our recent research found that people that make over $100k are more likely to participate in this new economy. The CEO of American Express is on record as saying card holders spent “hundreds of millions of dollars” last year on Uber rides. Both of these statements indicate there’s money to be made here.

This is a great example of a “Crowd Company” i.e., how corporations and crowd-based businesses can work together within new business models. Get ready for the Collaborative Economy Customer Score.

Related: My prediction that Uber is the next Amazon, A timeline graphic of all corporate partnerships in the collaborative economy.

The Collaborative Economy is for Business to Business


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The Collaborative Economy, which includes the sharing economy, maker movement, crowd funding, and crowd lending, is perceived mainly as a peer-to-peer movement. Yet, it’s not limited to individuals helping each other alone. Companies, both large and small are replicating the same strategies and tactics to improve their own business. Companies themselves are becoming like peers – collectively tapping into this collaborative space.

Ten years ago, with the rise of social networks like Myspace, Friendster and Facebook, we saw companies becoming frustrated because they were not able to participate in these peer-to-peer social networks. As a response, we saw the rise of branded, online communities emerge, such as Lithium, Jive, Telligent, Chatter, and Mzinga.  Today, a majority of corporations have their own branded, online forum or community for employees, partners, or customers. This same progression is now happening with the Collaborative Economy

Regardless of peer-to-peer or business-to-business, tenets of the movement include: 1) Activating idle resources for usage, therefore reducing waste. 2) A paradigm of access versus ownership, therefore reducing ownership as people get what they need on-demand. 3) Using technology to find these idle resources, then accessing the internet of things, mobile devices, social networks, online marketplaces, digital reputations, and online payment systems.

The Collaborative Economy is for Business-to-Business 

Here are a few examples. (Feel free to add more to the comments section.) For those new to the space, associations are provided, so it’s easy to understand how the company is replicating a B2C solution for B2B. Example: “the Airbnb for supply chain.”

  1. Localmotion replicates Zipcar features, so any company can enable car and vehicle sharing. Their software reduces the need for keys so that employees can access shared resources by using digital badges to access fleet vehicles.
  2. TwoGo, SAP’s ridesharing software, enables workers to rideshare, reducing global waste, cars on the road, and parking snafus at the corporate office while encouraging productivity within the workforce as they communicate in real time.
  3. Flow2 enables companies to share their goods, resources, and staff with other companies in an online marketplace. Akin to eBay, Yerdle, and craigslist, this B2B service offers companies the ability to be more efficient with their own resources while obtaining additional resources quickly, on demand.
  4. oDesk and Elance (which have merged) enable corporations to access online workers on demand. This business employment solutions provider offers business services from project management, software development, office work, copy editing, and more to companies, on-demand, around the globe.
  5. Cargomatic, the Uber for shipping, enables companies to more efficiently manage their supply chain. This enables businesses to find out which trucks with in a local route have available capacity, managing on-demand planning and reducing waste.
  6. NearMe, a white label Airbnb, enables any company to build a marketplace. If your company is being disrupted by rapidly growing marketplaces like Airbnb, Lyft, Lending Club, or TaskRabbit, you can build your own marketplace and tap the crowd with NearMe.
  7. Storefront, the Airbnb for retail, enables retailers who have excess and idle space, to rent it out to other businesses for an on-demand form of “popup retail.” This fosters more product offerings on shelves, and reduces the profit-eating expense of wasted space.
  8. WARPit, an eBay for business, enables employees to distribute idle resources on demand. Does your business have chairs, desks, or printers lying around unused? Share them with employees, or other organizations, maximizing efficiency of use.
  9. myTurn offers tool sharing, like a library, for your workforce. Rather than buy everyone a scanner, buy one that everyone can use, by using inventory tracking software.
  10. Co-working startups LiquidSpaceShareDeskPivotDesk and others, enable desk-sharing for workers seeking places to work, and for business with excess space. As work shifts to shared locations, businesses can be more flexible, offering desks on-demand.
  11. CrowdFlower offers human computing on demand.  Rather than hire thousands of employees to process simple tasks, you can tap an organized workforce of workers to conduct micro-tasks online, keeping your workforce focused.
  12. Selfstarter, is an open source starting point that allows your business to build its own ad-hoc crowd funding website. Building your own crowd funding platform for your business that’s branded, data accessible, and less costly, you can use open source software to launch your own crowd funding site.
  13. Any Perk enables employers to offer benefits and perks to employees.
  14. Please add other examples in the comments.

Expect Large Enterprise Software Companies to Usher in Suites
Companies are replicating the same features as the P2P commerce solutions like Airbnb, Uber, Sidecar, TaskRabbit, and Kickstarter to take advantage of this growing trend powered by new technologies. We’re at the very front end of this movement. Expect an explosion of Collaborative Economy apps and startups to emerge to serve companies as players like Uber and Airbnb and offer APIs enabling new forms of connectivity. Looking out ten years, expect software giants like SAP, IBM, Oracle, Salesforce and others to offer their own versions for corporations through replication or acquisition.

Want to learn more? Access my body of work for research, reports, presentations, frameworks, and more posts on the Collaborative Economy.

Image used under creative commons licensing by Panama.