Platform Driven Companies Prove We-Conomy Impact

This month’s Harvard Business Review focuses on the rise of businesses of all sizes using platforms instead of mere products to drive company growth.

As the debate continues over the real “sharing” behind the sharing economy, the new platform strategy boom may provide real insight into the undeniable impact that collaborative economy businesses are having on the broader global economic landscape.

As major companies like GE and Microsoft work to transform and grow in size and scale by switching to platform business models instead of product centric or pipeline driven ones, the impact of the WE-Conomy becomes evident.

Platform businesses that bring together producers and consumers as Uber and Airbnb do are capturing increased market share and transforming how competitive edge is achieved. Yesterday it was through product differentiation. Today it is through scale and impact.

With the iOT Predix GE platform for instance, the same ecosystem concept built around the marriage of technology and knowledge or service sharing that drives many collaborative economy models can be seen.

As GE works to go back to its industrial roots, it is using their new Predix platform to shape and define the future of the Industrial Internet. The platform, which falls under GE Digital, is being built to sit at the “intersection of people, machines, big data and analytics.” This new area of GE, recently launched as part of the company’s massive transformation, is expected to bring the company $6 billion alone in 2016.

Microsoft is also using a platform instead of product approach in its huge redesign of its Outlook email program by bringing together outside partners like PayPal, Uber, Evernote and Yelp! to create not just a winning email product, but winning email ecosystem.

According to HBR “With a platform model, the critical asset is the community and resources of its members. The focus of strategy shifts from controlling resources to orchestrating them, from optimizing internal resources, to facilitating external interactions and from increasing customer value to optimizing ecosystem value.

Doesn’t all this new innovation sound a lot like the collaborative economy? Creating ecosystems built off of technology platforms to unite people around shared ideas and the accomplishment of specific goals?

There is no doubt that sharing economy pioneers like Uber are responsible for the new platform driven thinking that is sweeping the “traditional” business landscape.

With new models of success being predicated on a company’s ability to create platform driven models, the massive impact of the collaborative economy becomes more and more visceral. Companies ranging from John Deere to Nike are quickly scrambling to get in the game.

As the Harvard Business Review describes it “A platform model provides the rules and infrastructure for a marketplace that brings together producers and consumers. The players in the ecosystem fill four major roles (producers, consumers, providers and owners) but may shift rapidly from one role to another.”

It seems clear that future success is going to be driven by those wise enough to harness the power of collaboration to build winning ecosystems that drive innovation, disruption and industry leadership.

sharing economy

After all, wasn’t a switch to a platform model by Apple in its second chapter which took it from computer maker to world’s leading lifestyle technology company? While hard to recall, before Steve Jobs made the shift in 2007, Apple had less than 4% of the desktop market and zero percent in mobile phones. It was only when he built his ecosystem model based off of simply connecting app providers and app users that the company’s path to world domination began.

While the comparisons between huge platform companies like GE and Microsoft and smaller collaborative economy players like TaskRabbit and Postmates may possess a few disparities, the undeniable fact is that an age of doing it for the we instead of the singular me is most definitely at the heart of the future of business.

Welcome to a world where it will be collaborative driven platforms not mere products that determine victory. Hail the new age of We-Commerce.

Billee Howard is Founder + Chief Engagement Officer of Brandthropologie, a cutting edge communications consulting firm specializing in helping organizations and individuals to produce innovative, creative and passionate dialogues with target communities, consumers and employees, while blazing a trail toward new models of artful, responsible, and sustainable business success. Billee is a veteran communications executive in brand development, trend forecasting, strategic media relations, and C-suite executive positioning. She has a book dedicated to the study of the sharing economy called WeCommerce released in December 2015 as well as a blog entitled the #HouseofWe dedicated to curating the trends driving our economy forward. You can read more about “WE-Commerce: How to Create, Collaborate, and Succeed in the Sharing Economy” right here!

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Touchdown: WEconomy In the Game at Super Bowl 50 With Emotionally Charged Offense 

As the Super Bowl prepares to celebrate its half century mark, sharing economy brands and the emotional benefits they provide, are as front and center as the Broncos and the Panthers.

Demonstrating the pervasiveness of the age of collaborative consumption on all walks of life, major sharing economy brands have been making noise as we lead up to Sunday’s big event in the way of live experiences that offer emotional reward, a signature of our new WE-Conomy world.

While traditionalists may be anxiously awaiting the annual ad creations of Budweiser and Hyundai on the big screen, WeConomy addicts are anticipating the benefits of collaborative consumption that can serve to enhance their Super Bowl experience. As Bowl festivities kick off in San Francisco, home to many of today’s greatest sharing economy disruptors, news has started to percolate on impending game time offerings.

Airbnb sees the weekend as a major opportunity to highlight the benefits of home rental, particularly as their company started when the founders rented out their home around a local conference when hotel rooms were at a premium. Highlighting everything from their many rooms in the area, to the special experiences their unique properties like a treetop bungalow can offer, the acclaimed brand has been making a lot of noise this week stating that 11,000 guests are already booked into 4,000 of their local properties. The estimated boon to the local economy for the weekend is $21 million.

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Not to be left on the sidelines, Uber has announced a slew of new offerings around the big game, in line with their recent push to be all things to all people in our sharing world. Offering everything from shared puppies, a flag football game with Joe Montana, to an Uber POOLtrain designed to take groups of people back and forth from key areas, the ride share giant is using this weekend as a testing ground for future disruptive sharing models predicated on emotional reward.

Postmates has also thrown its hat into the ring with a Super Bowl Squares community football pool which promises collaborative fun and food delivery discounts for the winners.

While many of the benefits of the sharing economy will be felt off the big screen, the impact our new environment has had on increasingly emotional experiences will be felt in some of the top ads anticipated this year. With a push on emotional levers from tugging heartstrings (Pokemon “I can do that” ad) to empathy (Colgate’s “Every drop counts spot) to the much buzzed about humorous show stealer (Steve Harvey’s Miss Universe flub in a possible Snickers bit), it is clear that both traditional companies and sharing economy players are aiming to create deeply emotional experiences that transcend product and service to win with consumers.

While the winner of the big game is still in question, what is most clear is that empathy and emotion hold the key to victory for brands in our new passion charged WE-Conomy.

Billee Howard is Founder + Chief Engagement Officer of Brandthropologie, a cutting edge communications consulting firm specializing in helping organizations and individuals to produce innovative, creative and passionate dialogues with target communities, consumers and employees, while blazing a trail toward new models of artful, responsible, and sustainable business success. Billee is a veteran communications executive in brand development, trend forecasting, strategic media relations, and C-suite executive positioning. She has a book dedicated to the study of the sharing economy called WeCommerce released in December 2015 as well as a blog entitled the #HouseofWe dedicated to curating the trends driving our economy forward. You can read more about “WE-Commerce: How to Create, Collaborate, and Succeed in the Sharing Economy” right here!

Wecommerce book Sharing Economy

Sharing Economy

Singular Focused Innovation

This week Proctor & Gamble sold off 43 beauty brands to Coty for 12.5 billion. This comes on the heels of them disposing of their pet and soap brands as well as Duracell batteries earlier this year.

GE made a similar move divesting of all of its financial services assets a few months back, leaving just their industrial focused business engines in place to power the behemoth forward.

What’s with all the dumping of assets by two of the world’s leading companies? It’s certainly not about financial failings, but rather about one of the key driving forces of the sharing economy and world of we, singular focus.

When Steve Jobs helped pioneer the age of total experience management we are living in today, not only did he flip the script on the age of total quality management that came before it, he also changed the game in the realm of niche focus. The new Apple went against the GE prevailing notion of doing as many things well as possible, to being driven by the idea of being the best in the world at one thing and one thing only.

In Steve’s world, doing one thing and doing that one thing better than anyone else, was the guiding mantra, and the key to much of Apple’s second act success. For example, Jonny Ives had a laser focus on design only, which is probably why the elegant white ear buds he invented for the iPod not only helped ushered in a new era of fortune for Apple, but also helped launch the 8.5 billion headphone industry of today and the audio Renaissance that is upon us.

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This is the reason GE shed its financially focused skin to go back to “its industrial core” as Jeff Immelt put it and likely why AG Lafley has decided to focus P&G on a portfolio of just 65 consumer focused household brands, all sharing a common thread and focus, to drive the company’s growth in the future.

If you look at the companies driving our new world forward you will see the very same niche focus driving their success. Uber does just transportation, Postmates does just on demand delivery, Fancy Hands does just all things administrative, Handy just does all things home repair and so on.

In the sharing economy, brand experience is critical and in order to not just succeed but lead, a singular and niche focus on innovation is the must have strategic imperative, and it’s clearly not just a guiding mantra for startups any more.

Billee Howard is Founder + Chief Engagement Officer of Brandthropologie, a cutting edge communications consulting firm specializing in helping organizations and individuals to produce innovative, creative and passionate dialogues with target communities, consumers and employees, while blazing a trail toward new models of artful, responsible, and sustainable business success. Billee is a veteran communications executive in brand development, trend forecasting, strategic media relations, and C-suite executive positioning. She has a book dedicated to the study of the sharing economy called WeCommerce due out in Fall 2015 as well as a blog entitled the #HouseofWe dedicated to curating the trends driving our economy forward. You can read more about “WE-Commerce: How to Create, Collaborate, and Succeed in the Sharing Economy” right here!

 

 

Sharing Economy Tips

4 Tips For Startups In Weconomy

In the sharing economy the idea of creating businesses that harness the notion of “we” has never been hotter. By creating innovations that leverage technology and the unique passions and expertise of individuals, new successful businesses are cropping up at a blistering pace with the ability to change daily life.

Whether it is Postmates, the delivery app that blends the best of Task Rabbit and Seamless to reimagine on demand delivery, or zTailors which marries the best of the Uber model and my suit.com to extend the possibilities of bespoke tailoring, the sharing economy holds no limits on who can become an artist of business and a successful entrepreneur.

By following just a few quick guidelines, anyone with a unique passion that has scale, can share it with the world in ways that create new innovations and pockets of profitability.

1) Create a clear and unique story.

In today’s environment storytelling must become a business competency. Develop a concept and transform it into a story that immerses consumers in the idea. For example, Whistlepig is not just a whiskey, it’s the dream of two guys who moved to Vermont to fulfill their destiny of making bespoke spirits in a way that helped launch a renaissance for dark liquor. Clearly the brand is far more than a beverage.

Sharing Economy & Storytelling

Photo Credit: Pexels

2) Combine your passion + the power of we

Develop an idea that seeks to follow the winning formula of passion + the power of we. Postmates would not be nearly as successful as it is of it didn’t have a legion of businesses participating, and “Postmates” signed up to make the on demand deliveries they imagined a reality.

3) Small is the new Big

Remember that in today’s environment small is the new big. Success today is predicated on the idea of not being all things to all people, but rather finding one thing, and doing that one thing better than anyone else. For example Airbnb is a lodging company only. It has bridged over to media to help deepen and expand the experiences they offer, but they have not extended into travel transportation or travel booking agent in an attempt to create new profit centers. Keep your focus niche to survive and thrive.

Sharing Economy Tips

4) Act global but think local

In today’s environment the flip side of the original act local think global mantra is true. Today, if you have a winning idea, the democratizing power of technology can easily catapult your business globally. However, remembering that local communities both online and off are the spark for growing any business is critical. Most successful sharing economy businesses such as Uber, TaskRabbit and Neighborgoods started in target cities to perfect their offerings before becoming global powerhouses. Hone your idea, customize it in ways that can be scalable on a local level, and then view the entire globe as your canvas of creation!

Sharing Economy

In the world of the sharing economy the most critical point is that if we remember that today’s innovations are powered by the we and not the me, there is nothing that we cannot imagine and create together.

Billee Howard is Founder + Chief Engagement Officer of Brandthropologie, a cutting edge communications consulting firm specializing in helping organizations and individuals to produce innovative, creative and passionate dialogues with target communities, consumers and employees, while blazing a trail toward new models of artful, responsible, and sustainable business success. Billee is a veteran communications executive in brand development, trend forecasting, strategic media relations, and C-suite executive positioning. She has a book dedicated to the study of the sharing economy called WeCommerce due out in Fall 2015 as well as a blog entitled the #HouseofWe dedicated to curating the trends driving our economy forward. You can read more about “WE-Commerce: How to Create, Collaborate, and Succeed in the Sharing Economy” right here!