Societal Damnation #38: The Sharing Economy

Sharing is a good thing? Right? Isn’t that what we’re all taught when we are young?

Well, yes, unless you are the one who isn’t being shared with, or the one who refuses to share. And if you are the one who refuses to share, you may find that not only are you without partners, but without means as well.

As covered in our recent series on the “Future” of Procurement in our first Shiny New Shoes post, The Sharing Economy is one of the few true future trends of the space. And while it’s a breath of fresh air to one who is constantly inundated with futurist drivel, to the average Procurement Professional that is still trying to come to turns with the foundational values of strategic sourcing and the collaboration it requires with core suppliers, it’s downright scary. So scary, in fact, that it can be considered the next in a wave of plagues to descend upon an average Procurement department, still struggling to replace the fax machine with a web-enabled e-Sourcing Solution.

While this sharing economy is currently in the domain of individuals like you and I, and a handful of small businesses who have latched on, this share economy is going to migrate to medium sized businesses en-masse and, when properly utilized, give these businesses access to the latest and greatest technology and economies of scale that these medium-sized businesses will be unable to acquire on their own. Can’t afford to buy that new automation and production system that increases throughput, improves quality, and decreases natural resource consumption? No problem. Form a cooperative with quasi-competitors, build a new factory with the new production technology, and effectively time-share it (for the operating cost). This will put medium-sized businesses on the same playing field as large enterprises and level the playing field in ways that have not yet been thought of. The hippies succeeded and their ideas changed the world — 50 years later.

But it might not be a world your organization gets to conduct business in if it cannot accept, embrace, and form the new reality to its advantage. How will it do this? It will start by identifying opportunities that it cannot achieve on its own. Then it will have to identify what partners it would need to bring those opportunities within its grasp. Finally, it will need to put together a plan to unite those partners and execute it to completion.

This may sound easy, but adopting the necessary mindset, convincing others inside and outside of the company, and then working together across organizations as a team while each member collectively fights on behalf of their respective organization for what they perceive their share of the market to be will not be easy. It will be challenging, but the persistent will prevail. It’s just one labour. Hercules had twelve.