Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Crowdfunded public transport - line six in Toronto

Here's an interesting version of crowd funding: A group of Toronto citizens crowdfunding a bus line, which the public transportation company is unwilling to establish. 
In the collaborative economy it seems that political activism and business entrepreneurship are blurring. 

Here's more from the Canadian Broadcast company's article about the initiative: 
"In a move to alleviate the cattle-car conditions transit riders in the west-end neighbourhood endure almost daily, Scollon has co-founded a service that will attempt to operate — at least on a trial basis — a private, crowd-funded bus service with daily trips into downtown during rush hour from the fast-growing neighbourhood along King Street West.
Here's how it will work. For a minimum donation of $25, riders are guaranteed five seats on the bus. Scollon's company will charter the bus using a private company. Line 6 has a $2,500 funding goal before they will launch the pilot. So far, they have raised $1,450"

Friday, October 10, 2014

The incredibly shrinking time horizon of stock market investments

Just stumbled upon this very illustrative graph from LPL Financial research showing how the average holding period of stock has fallen from years to days. Long term thinking is over, it seems. 

Here's part of their analysis: 
"The time horizon of the average investor’s investment perspective has changed dramatically over the years, as you can see in Figure 1. According to data from the New York Stock Exchange, the average holding period for stocks in 1960 was about eight years. By 1970, it had slid to a little over five years. By 1980, it had fallen to just under three years, by 1990 to two years, by 2000 to just one year, and in 2010 it reached a mere six months. In 2012, the ETF that tracks the S&P 500 turns over its full market capitalization in trading volume about once every five days".

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

How to thrive in the we-economy

Thriving in a we-economy

The products that drove the industrial economy are becoming commodities: They have matured to the point where it’s hard and expensive to squeeze additional value from them. Instead, new value and growth now comes from connecting and combining technologies to create broader solutions, starting from the customer’s perspective.

Industrial products were mass-produced, one-size-fits-all. Now, value is increasingly created for specific customers in a specific context, here and now.
Rather than thinking in terms of standalone products, customers will buy devices and services that fit together with all the other stuff they are using – and the value they derive emerges from the interaction between large numbers of companies, often from very different sectors. Just consider how many providers are involved and coordinated to enable the services that are available on a smartphone.  

In the global market place, pressure to deliver more for less is as high as ever, and as we go forward, the demand for efficiency will only increase because of growing concerns about the environment and the tightening supplies of natural resources and energy.

Computers and connectivity are making it cheaper to coordinate and orchestrate transactions widely, with great precision and efficiency.
In all industries, products are digitized, networked, and equipped with sensors. They are exchanging data and coordinating, to compose solutions that are adapted to individual and local demands – but drawing on global networks and a wide variety of resources – including input from users themselves.

A new approach to meet new conditions

To thrive under these new conditions, companies need a new approach to business and value creation.
The main characteristic is a shift from a ME perspective towards a WE perspective.
This means seeing yourself as part of a much wider set of stakeholders, and understanding that your success depends on the success of all others involved in creating a common solution.
Taking a we-perspective means realizing that you cannot create complex solutions alone, and that opening to co-creation with other stakeholders, including users, will give you access to greater insight at a lower cost.
Thus, the we-approach is one of interaction, collaboration and interdependence.

This in turns implies that businesses need to rethink the way they organize value creation.         

- Focus shifts towards processes and applications, rather than providing finished products. Design is largely about creating and contributing to tools, services, platforms and systems that make it easy for a wide range of participants to join and contribute to creating the results they each want.
- It’s a participatory economy, based on a much deeper interaction action between producers and consumers. The traditional, industrial-era division of roles and responsibilities between suppliers, manufacturers, users, and customers are blurred. 
- Openness and sharing is a prerequisite for developing and operating a We- economy business concept. However, when knowledge and resources are shared, the ownership, rights and profits from activities are not so straightforward.
- The motivation to contribute knowledge, effort and other resources is not purely economic. Participants may equally be driven by the desire for recognition, by professional interest, social interaction or a wish to help others. Concerns about sustainability, minimizing the waste of resources and the environment in general are also important as motivation.
- Leadership and decision-making happens across organizational boundaries in networks, that can include not only the individual company's own employees, but also workers from other enterprises, volunteers, public servants, users, suppliers and customers.
- With less central authority or ownership, control of the process is replaced by influence.
- The connection between efforts and pay-off is less direct, and investments must be seen in a wider and longer-term perspective when you are contributing to make the ecosystem, which you are ultimately dependent on, thrive.
- A different set of skills is required. The traditional, rather passive and reproducing role of workers and consumers in the industrial age, need to change towards more personal initiative, assuming responsibility, sharing, communicating and creating. 

Elements of a new normal.

Interestingly, these characteristics are very visible in a number of new and often overlapping approaches to business, which have had considerable success and attention recently.

The sharing economy matches idle resources with needs. Access to use is more important the individual ownership Instead.
The maker movement is democratizing innovation and making it possible for virtually anyone to develop, manufacture and sell products.
Co-creation and broader participation in the development and production of solutions is possible in digital networks
The circular economy sees business as an ecosystem where everything and everyone are ultimately interrelated and interdependent.
Social enterprises work to make services and goods accessible to as many people as possible – rather than maximizing profits.

A lot of experimentation is going on, and not all companies and business models will have staying power. However, looking at the big picture, it’s hard to imagine that elements of these approaches will not become part of the new normal way of doing business.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Changing roles in the We-economy

The main characteristic of the We-economy is that value creation takes place in an ongoing interaction with a much broader set of stakeholders than what companies and organizations usually consider.

It’s a different way of collaborating and organizing value creation, and it requires all involved to reconsider their roles in the process.

Consumers are usually thought of as passive and free of responsibility. As a consumer, you can choose from the menu, pay what’s required, use what you bought and discard it afterwards.
In the We-economy, the people formerly known as consumers become co-creators.  Co-creators can actively participate in defining the product, configuring it, and contributing ideas, data and labor to the process.
A co-creator operates with a different mindset than a consumer. Consumers are the classic homo economicus. Consumers think short-term and personal. They want the best deal for themselves, and they don’t care about the consequences of their choices for others.

In contrast, co-creators see they will get better value by engaging with others, and they understand that thriving in the long-term requires that others will also thrive. They realize that their choices have positive and negative consequences in a far-reaching system, and that they have responsibilities beyond simply paying for the right to ”consume”.

Manufacturers usually create finished products that are sold to consumers in transactions, which rarely extend beyond the sale and a bit of follow-up for repair and warranty issues.
In the We-economy, the finished physical product is less important relative to the process, which allows users to make the most of the product. An increasing part of overall value is created through interactions on a platform, that allows many stakeholders – including other companies and end-users – to contribute to a solution, which fits the user’s needs and demands in the specific, current context.
This requires that manufacturers open up to input from other companies and users, and this in turns means that they lose some of their control of the finished product.

Public services are usually provided to taxpayers, who are seen as clients that are entitled to a service. In the We-economy, public institutions see themselves as enablers, that create systems and platforms, which allow citizens, civil servants and private companies to co-create common goods such as health, security, mobility or education.
Citizens are given opportunities and responsibilities to improve the value of the services by co-creating.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Waves innovation exhibition opens in Paris - 5 currents of the new economy

The Waves innovation exhibition has opened in La Villette in Paris. It presents 5 currents, which are changing the economy and opening up new types of value creation: Sharing, co-creation, the maker movement, Social enterprise and the circular economy – in my opinion, a set of approaches, which are hard NOT to see as parts of the normal future economy. It's exactly the topic of the We-economy project here in Denmark.
The main content are 20 case-stories from around the world, illustrated with wonderful photographic artwork. The exhibition is housed in an elegant and organic purpose-built 500 square meter pavilion.

For me it has been a great pleasure to work with the team at BNP, to contribute ideas, research and texts – and the result is fabulous, IMHO!
The exhibition will stay in Paris till October 5, and will then travel on around the world, and in France. There is a comprehensive website for the exhibition as well. 

Monday, September 08, 2014

Airbnb co-founder discusses the nuts and bolts of the company on Econ-talk

Nathan Blecharczyk, the CTO and co-founder of Airbnb is interviewed by Russ Roberts of Econtalk. It’s a great interview with lots of insight into the nuts and bolts of Airbnb.
Also, there are some amazing recent facts: There are now 800.000 properties on the platform, and recently 375.000 rooms were rented out in one night. It’s big.

I’ve picked a sequence, where Blecharczyk talks about the turning point of the company, when the founders, at the suggestion from their Y-combinator mentor Paul Graham, went to New York and visited the people who were using Airbnb to rent their flats:

“So, we went to New York, and before we showed up, we called every single user, every single host.
Russ: How many were there?
Guest: About 30.
Russ: Okay. That's 30.
Guest: It was not a monumental task by any means. And we said, How would you like a professional photographer to come by your home and take some pictures? And I think that question was a little bit out of the blue, but people were curious and they said, It's free? Yes. And they said, Okay, sure, why not. And, you have to remember, at this time camera phones weren't that great. They were lower resolution, poorly lit. So we noticed the photos could be better. So we offered to take them, have a professional take them, for free. What ended up happening was that Joe and Brian would go to the camera store, rent the camera for the weekend, and show up themselves, knocking on the door. So the host would open the door expecting the professional photographer, and it was Joe and Brian, the founders of the company. But they let them in anyways, and Joe and Brian took the photos. And while they are in there, sat with them at the computer, showed them how to use the website, got product feedback, as well as invited them to share beers later on. And so we'd get together anywhere from 5-8 people in the evening, have a beer, tell them our story over the last year. And once people had heard the story and gotten to meet us, they became our advantage list. They wanted us to succeed at that point. So much so that even once we came back to San Francisco, we could call them up and give them advice, such as: you really have a beautiful apartment but you've only written a paragraph describing it; could we add a few more paragraphs? Could we perhaps start with your price being lower, and then raise it if you are getting too many inquiries? And so once we had great pictures, lower prices, more complete profiles, and cooperative hosts, that was the special combination. It was then that those properties started getting booked by travelers coming from all around the world. The travelers had great experiences and then would go home to their home cities--Paris, Berlin, Hong Kong--and the guests would oftentimes say, Hey, I want to do this, too. And the guests would become hosts. And so, within months there was a global cross-pollination of the idea in a way that might not be true of other businesses”.

Another quote:
So events are a great catalyst for Airbnb. And just recently during the World Cup down in Brazil, we hosted about 150,000 guests in Brazil. It was actually about 20% of all international visitors, stayed on an Airbnb property. We now have 20,000 properties in the city of Rio. So, Airbnb is a great solution when there's an event that brings an influx of people and there's a lack of the existing hotel capacity to kind of flux and accompany all that”.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Mobilizing small un-used resource - like your car's trunk

It's amazing how the sharing economy can mobilize the smallest idle capacity. Check Cardrop, which offers to deliver package to your car's trunk. So you don't have to worry about staying home to receive that package.