It’s all about the people, stupid.

Sharing has become the new norm. Hundred of companies are sprouting all over filling in the need using local resources that can be borrowed, shared or bought easily. And the driving force behind this is everyday people like you and me.

For every new technology that disrupts existing traditional businesses or mindset, creates a controversy so this is nothing out of the norm. Uber has been around since 2009 and this Christopher Mims from WSJ on May 24 is ironically titled how everyone gets the ‘sharing’ economy wrong.

This is like de ja vu for me. Back in last 80s when computers started making their way in offices, many employees revolted and did not want to use them for it replaced their jobs. Few those that were willing to change and learn computers were able to survive and thrive.

Fast forward, people are complaining that Uber/Lyft are taking jobs from working people. The people that are driving Uber/Lyft are real people who are willing to work and so can any other working people that are threatened do so. The amount of rides given, room rented through AirBnB and many other sharing businesses services that are used by its end consumers is the biggest testament that consumers are seeking better alternatives and when made available, they use it. In a democracy, the traditional businesses have to compete with these new sharing startups for their survival. Having said that finding a balance between these two needs: disrupting the status quo and preserving rights and safeguards, should be the task of government.

What is driving this phenomenon?

The obvious reasons we hear is technology is enabling this change and to a large extend its true. Logistically speaking without technology, it would be hard to drive this massive change in such a short amount of time. But there is more than technology and that is people. As humans we are social creatures and thrive better in communities. With all our differences, ideas and beliefs, we all crave for those human connections. 20th century corporate business made the consumers feel like ‘customers’ with its cold and emotionless customer service and limited options. Fast forward 21st century sharing economy’s foundation is build upon trust, reputation and direct human connection that care and empathize. Rachel Botsman, an industry leader and writer on the topic believes that these personal interactions go beyond the simple transaction model of traditional business and build a long-term bond and add value to that experience.

Case in point when DeSoto rebranded itself in an effort to reclaim its market share in San Francisco, it hardly made a dent in Uber’s share. DeSoto failed to understand the underlying reason why customers moved to Uber. It was not the technology but its customer services experience that inspired customer to love and be loyal with Uber.

In an article on Forbes by Denise Lee Yohn, it outlines how sharing economy is creating customer experience that is worth noticing and learning from. In comparison to traditional corporates these young agile startups are using technology to cultivate a culture through strong, shared value with its customers. They are actively listening and responding to customers.

With all its differences, sharing economy is here to stay and will continue to grow. A lot can be learned from this young industry that is powered by the everyday people and is compassionate towards its fellow human being. Just like any other business to be successful, it’s has to solve real need that is better than existing options. Sharing economy tends to offer a better, cheaper and convenient option and looking at the numbers of people using these services, it clearly makes a huge business sense as well.


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