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Collaborative consumption: The future of disruption

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Posted by Octopus Group

Many disruptive businesses are using a collaborative model to not only reinvent markets but radically change the way customers interact and consume products and services – think Airbnb and Uber, which have had a huge impact on their respective industries.

This collaborative model is slowly but surely surfacing in many different industries right here on our doorstep. In the automotive industry, for example, previous Everline Future 50 winner, Innoverne, is changing the paradigm – from product ownership to access, facilitating collaborative consumption. 

Innoverne enables car dealerships to access specialist tools and equipment, on demand, on a hire, loan or subscription basis, instead of having to buy them outright. When a tool has been used to satisfaction it is then returned, inspected, and made available again.

Because the parts, materials and components of a product have been tracked they can ultimately be refurbished, remanufactured or re-used in some other way at the end of a tools service life.

This economic model is not only beneficial to the end-user but it also has a significant environmental impact too. Traditional businesses typically use resources from the Earth to make products which ultimately end up in landfill. This is a highly unsustainable “linear” flow and means businesses can only really be successful by making and selling more products. 

With Innoverne’s “circular” business model, business itself becomes more sustainable, as a product is accessed and used multiple times, by many different users, until finally its elements are reused (and re-monetised) as opposed to thrown away.

Innoverne describes this model as a shift to the “circular economy”, and its founder, Julian Thomas, envisages a future in which one day every single product will be provided as a service, rather than a possession. People will trade on the performance, result or impact of a product rather than the product itself. 

Innoverne is not the only business embracing collaboration. As more and more industries are being disrupted by this kind of innovation, does a new company’s success now depend on its ability to adapt to this way of working? If so, how can a business become a “collaborative” disruptor?

What service is the business providing?

Having worked for large corporations whose entire corporate DNA was organised around the concepts of making and selling more each day, month, quarter and year, company founder Julian Thomas began to rethink the traditional notions of making, buying and selling products. 

His “lightbulb moment” came when he realised there are better ways to provide stakeholder value – out popped the idea of using technology to facilitate access over ownership.

This mode of thought can be applied to any leader. They need to ask themselves: what service do they provide? Where and what is the value? And, importantly, how can you abandon traditional ways of providing a service to facilitate a less expensive, more customer-centred exchange of goods and services?

Read more about the Everline Future 50:

Assemble the best team

It is crucial that businesses aiming to disrupt understand the industry they are working in. Knowing the marketplace and how it will react to collaborative commerce models make all the difference when it comes to launch. The whole leadership team needs to share this understanding in order to effectively take the business further. 

By knowing the market inside and out, innovators can more effectively and intelligently provide solutions to problems others haven’t even identified yet, which is at the essence of disruption.

Overcome the challenges

All businesses encounter challenges, particularly disruptive ones. For instance, companies that have previously operated inside traditional confines and cumbersome decision-making structures are often systemically reluctant to adapt to new commercial models, let alone new business models. 

The best advice Innoverne has for companies in these situations is to simply start – use trials or pilots and all the technological resources at your disposal to empower customers and allow them to decide which models they prefer. Let customers shine a light on the potential impact your disruption may have, and simply track, measure and optimise. 

With technology, businesses can reach a huge audience of people that are open to new business models. Technology also enables entrepreneurs to connect things that have not previously been connected. 

For example, Airbnb has connected thousands of travellers around the world with the people that are open to renting part or all of their home. Innoverne, with tools-as-a-service are providing a platform to connect excess capacity in specialist tools and equipment with a distributed network of car dealerships. The biggest disruptors today have all used technology to overhaul the status quo.

In the years ahead it will be the companies that take these steps and manage to tap into this collaborative market that will become the biggest disruptors.

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