Entire sectors are being shaken up by digitally-supported business models that radically re-organise how value is delivered. These models provide an opportunity to respond to customer demand while creating positive impact.

What is the “Access Economy”

The confluence of digital technology, the rise of social networks, and a revival of the sharing ethos, in part prompted by the financial crisis in 2007–8, has resulted in the emergence of what has been dubbed “the sharing economy”.

There are many facets to this new economy. In her book, What’s mine is yours: The rise of collaborative consumption, Rachel Botsman outlines three key models:

1. Product service systems; 2. Redistribution markets; 3. Collaborative lifestyles.

Collaborative Consumption models <http://collaborativeconsumption.com>

These new ways of delivering value have been described using a variety of terms. All are predicated on the idea that access to the usefulness of a thing is more important (and valuable) than owning the thing itself.

This is most easily illustrated by example: car sharing delivers the value of mobility (the “usefulness” or utility) via a “car as a service” rather than owning the car, which has a lot of ancillary costs—financial, social and environmental.

There are a variety of models and use cases that are emerging, each of which holds potential in reducing resource consumption, or increasing the value in use of existing resources, which improves the efficiency of the materials and energy embodied in a finished product. Product service systems also create incentives for making more durable products, addressing challenges such as the split-incentives problem and pushing against the “planned obsolescence” syndrome.

The challenge

Platform for social innovation-full/complete

Capitalising on the opportunities in this new economy requires a rethinking of how value is generated. Often, value is something that is co-created, such as is the case with headline businesses in this space such as AirBNB. Rather than thinking in terms of “products” and “customers”, instead successful businesses are platforms for shared value creation.

Our approach is built upon the principles for success we have identified through our experience of delivering digitally-led experiences and social media strategy.

We’ve outlined the key elements of this concept in presentations such as Creating platforms for social innovation, presented at Web Directions South 2010—a good place to start for more information on this concept.

How we can help

We can apply our capabilities to help you:

  • build understanding within your organisation as to how the access economy might emerge in/shape your market space, and how you can strategically adapt to take advantage any inherent opportunities
  • seek out stakeholder insights to identify patterns of behaviour that would be suitable for building a platform approach around
  • facilitate dialogue within your team as to how a platform approach might manifest in your organisation, and how to put the appropriate supporting structures and culture in place to support it
  • design effective approaches for incorporating social network and online community engagement into your operations
  • identify and engage with existing communities of practice that are strategically aligned
  • design and build the digital supporting infrastructure to support your own community of practice
  • employ robust evaluation methods to avoid negative rebound effects and unintentional consequences