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2016 trends series: Increased friction in the competitive sharing economy

Written by: Lizzy Barker

Published on: April 22, 2016

We have collated 10 trends that we think are reshaping digital in 2016. This is the eighth installment of our series which looks at things that are happening now in Q1, whilst identifying trends to look out for in the rest of the year.

You may already be familiar with many of the trends we highlight in this series, but the cycle of innovation and iteration that our industry is known for means existing concepts can suddenly find radically new trajectories. In this series, we highlight ten ideas that are gaining rapid traction today, and which will reshape how we digitally interact with the world around us.

To help you organize your priorities for the trends in this series, we have sorted them as “trends to prepare for now” and “trends to start thinking about”.

Our eighth installment is a trend to prepare for now:

Increased friction in the sharing economy


The connecting power of the internet and the rise of digital platforms that leverage a ‘sharing economy’ business model enable professionals to monetize specific skills they have or resources they own.

New businesses like Uber, Mechanical Turk and MyClean successfully exploit the advantages of a light-weight, low investment, internet-based set-up: a reduced need for physical offices; a reduced need for full time, contracted employees; the use of computers to repackage consumer needs into another set of users tasks; and an ability to access spare time and cognitive capacity all across the world.

Although this new generation of businesses are fulfilling unmet consumer needs, 
they fail to offer sustainable employment to their part-time staff.

As these businesses scale up from challenger brands to industry leaders, they will struggle to hire, train, manage and motivate employees who have little loyalty to their part-time employer – and they will also face more regulatory scrutiny.

Brands like Uber are focusing on retaining their customer base by slashing prices but as a result, they’re losing drivers to their competitors, who pay better. These companies need to strike the balance between customer and resource retention. As seen with Uber in France and Germany, new markets, competitors and regulators will respond to the cannibalization of established brands and industries by these digital alternatives. Better value to the customer may not save new digital upstarts from being politically outmanoeuvred by established players.

You can find the whole series here: