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The Agile Marketer by Roland Smart

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Chapter 16Lessons from the Collaborative Economy

In Chapter 12, I discussed how connecting external and internal communities can support ideation and drive innovation. Now let's look at companies that have externalized much of the work that internal communities—that is, their employees—do.

Traditional businesses across a wide swath of industries are being disrupted by a new breed of company that leverages communities as the foundation of its business. You've probably guessed I'm talking about companies such as Airbnb, Uber, Etsy, Instacart, Upwork, Lending Club, Indiegogo, Instructables, and many others. These companies are creating new business models in which one community—providers (formerly employees)—serves another community—customers. Most people refer to this phenomenon as the rise of the sharing economy. Others call it the collaborative economy, a term I prefer because of its broader implications. (Sharing economy is confusing, because it suggests free exchange or bartering, when, in fact, this economy, for the most part, involves exchanging money to make a profit.)

Jeremiah Owyang of Crowd Companies offers what might be the best definition of the collaborative economy: “an economic movement where common (i.e., everyday) technologies enable people to get what they want from each other.” Look up Owyang's infographic, the Collaborative Economy Honeycomb, online to see just how far and wide the movement has spread. (Incidentally, this infographic, which has been updated ...

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