Collaborative Consumption: What’s Next for the Sharing Economy in 2016?

Business.com / Technology / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

From new apps to new employment models, learn what's next as the Sharing Economy 2.0 continues to disrupt traditional business models.

Heading out of town for a weekend getaway?

In 2016, you’ll board Fido with the local pet sitter you found via Rover, take an Uber from the airport to your Airbnb flat, and when you’re back, hire a local handyman via TaskRabbit to hang all those framed vacation photos on your wall.

Oh, you’ll pay for the entire trip thanks to the rental income you earned by renting out your parking space while you’re out of town with YourParkingSpace. And if you happen to live in a college town, a Shark Tank favorite Rent Like a Champion can help you list your home to be rented by out of town fans for weekend games.

Related Article: The Sharing Economy Takes Over: Pooling Resources as a Community

Welcome to Sharing Economy 2.0, where collaborative consumption is upending traditional commerce much the same way that eCommerce shook up the retail business a decade ago.

It’s been a busy few years for the Sharing Economy. With Airbnb’s $10 billion valuation surpassing Hyatt Hotels and Uber’s $18.2 billion valuation surpassing rental car giants Hertz and Avis, 2014 marked the year that the Sharing Economy officially graduated from couch surfing startups to major businesses.

In 2015, however, the Sharing Economy hit serious legal and political snags. San Francisco’s Proposition F (aka the “Airbnb Initiative”) aimed to put serious restrictions on private, short-term rentals and the company waged a tone-deaf public relations battle with the city. Uber is battling a class action lawsuit in California, regulation push back in cities from London to New Delhi, and a public relations nightmare as Uber drivers are convicted of raping their passengers.

While Airbnb and Uber aren’t the only businesses in the Sharing Economy, they are two of the best known and for many analysts and consumers, have become the public face of this industry. So, after the Sharing Economy’s meteoric rise and its inevitable growing pains, what’s next for 2016?

Top Sharing Economy 2.0 trends in 2016:

Same Service, Multiple Apps: Separating Professional and Personal Use.

In the last year, both Uber and Airbnb have unveiled new apps designed for business use, which will make it easier for businesses to differentiate between personal and professional expenses. While there’s no corporate rate or discount on Uber for Business, the app does make it easier for employees to book travel and charge the cost of their rides directly back to the company, no expense report required.

As of September 2015, more than 50,000 businesses had enrolled in Uber for Business. Expect more companies, including those that offer same-day personal delivery services for urban markets, to launch professional-expense apps in the coming year.

New Regulations May Complicate Expansion.

Airbnb’s standoff with New York City and San Francisco regulators is just the opening salvo in an ongoing regulation battle. With peer-to-peer companies, service providers are not formal employees, which has led to questions over background and safety checks. That’s slowly changing.

In 2014, the National League of Cities (NLC) formed a task force to help city leaders and lawmakers address safety and regulation issues stemming from the sharing economy, prompting a host of new rules in 2015 and beyond.

Uber Delhi’s head of marketing, Saad Ahmed, has said that the “safety of our riders and drivers is the highest priority for us.” The importance of safety is also recognized by other sharing economy companies.

Harrison Woods, the Managing Director for YourParkingSpace, which rents parking spaces near airports, concert venues, and business centers throughout the UK, says, “While there may be little in-person interaction when renting out an outdoor parking space, we still want to ensure that the transaction is secure and provide an experience where all participants feel safe at every stage of the process.” Companies that choose to add self-regulation and safety/security measures stand to benefit the most by gaining consumer trust.

Related Article: 5 Emerging Business Trends You Should Know About

More Independent Workers Upend Traditional Employment Models.

For many workers, especially Millennials, freelancing is now a way of life. While some were forced into freelance jobs due to the economic instability following 2008’s Great Recession, many are now opting for freelance gigs as a lifestyle choice for better professional and personal flexibility.

This move towards freelancing means greater flexibility for small business owners, who can now tap into expert workers on an ad-hoc basis, without the burdensome carrying costs associated with full-time employees.

And in urban communities, in particular, it also means there are more service providers for part-time gigs from Lyft drivers and Task Rabbits to Rover pet sitters and parking space leasers. On the flip side, the growing preference for freelance employment may also make it more difficult for businesses to recruit and retain the best Millennial hires.

Bottom Line

As we move into 2016, the Sharing Economy remains poised for strong growth, especially in industries with significant inefficiencies and high costs, like health care. Could an app that brings doctors or nurses directly to your home for a house call be next?

What direction do you think Sharing Economy 2.0 is headed next year? I welcome your predictions below!

Image via Wikipedia

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