Access trumps ownership in 2011
Disturbed by the sight of dead Christmas trees lying on the curb after the holiday, Los Angeles-based landscaper Scott Martin had an idea. Why not rent people living Christmas trees?
He set up a website and offered different types of live trees in a variety of sizes. Customers specified which tree, what size and on which day it would be delivered and where. Scott and his team also offered decorations for the trees they rented. After the holiday, each customer selected a day for the tree to be picked-up and Scott and his team even recycled the gift wrap and packaging. The trees were either returned to the nursery to be cared for and sold later or donated. An all around joyful holiday win for the customers, Scott and team, the community and the environment.
Like Scott’s company, many will increasingly focus on sharing as a core part of their offering in the New Year. So here are some to watch out for in 2011:
1. Propel peer-to-peer. Our peers are our customers and our purveyors. The mobile Web, location-based services, inexpensive and pervasive mobile apps, and new sorts of opportunities to access cars, bikes, tools, talent, and more from our neighbors and colleagues will propel peer-to-peer access services into market. I expect we’ll see many new offerings from popup general stores to car-, bike- and home-sharing services. These peer-to-peer structures will inevitably challenge the ‘fleet’ ownership structure of companies like ZipCar and Bcycle. Will they hedge their bets or massage their offerings?
2. Greasing the wheels. Insurance and funding traditionally drive capital investment. But in a world based on access, not ownership, the duration, value, cost and extent of financial services is distinctly different. RelayRides and WhipCar, AirBnB, Roomorama and One Fine Stay are all stellar examples of how new, access-based offers entice and provoke insurance companies and banks to re-think risk, value, customers and deal terms. Stay tuned: 2011 is going to be a year of early winners here.
3. Big brands. Brands with global audiences will get meshy in 2011. We have already seen Daimler, Hertz, Patagonia, Citroen, Virgin, and more enter their markets with access-based offerings.
4. Trying on new words. We are on the verge of creating a whole new language and policies designed for living and working in a world of access. Credit scores ruled the day in an economy driven by ownership; 2011 will kick off focus on players who attempt to define and distribute their flavor of trust proxies. Consider: Quora, Honestly, Namesake and for real estate, Homethinking. We are only at the beginning of creating functional tools and symbols to assess trust and risk.
5. Embrace the waste. Much of the Mesh is about squeezing more real value out of what we already have and designing for sharing by choosing materials with real longevity. Coca-Cola, ZeroWaste New Zealand, Saintsbury, Nike, Henkel, Skansa, Gap are bellwethers. In 2011, countries, companies, communities and households will continue to uncover the joy of waste.
6. Cloudy cities. Cities are ripe for redesign, and many are already well on that path. Cloud-based networks that provide easy and inexpensive access to and tracking of services like transportation, energy, waste management, bill pay, citizen engagement and more are testing and enriching their services. CEOs for Cities, C40, Cool Cities, and other groups are working to share strategies, scar tissue and talent for the sake of improving city life for all.
Photo caption: Christmas trees await recycling in a skip at the Lount Recycling and Household Waste Site in Leicestershire, central England, January 5, 2007. REUTERS/Darren Staples