The new collaborative, zero infrastructure economy demands a different way of thinking about what a business really is. Although many have tried to define this seismic mindshift, the best summation came from Tom Goodwin, SVP at Havas Media:
“Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.”
Zero infrastructure has allowed game-changing global startups like WhatsApp to operate with just 55 employees at the time they were purchased for US$19 billion.
Profits in this new economy derive not from production but coordination -- using digital innovation to broker connections between supply and demand. The goods and services being sold are offered up by the public and revenues are shared across massively distributed population centers. The supply chain and the customer base are often the same people.
The millennial connection
The collaborative economy was developed by and for millennials and their desire to live in a collaborative, sustainable world. Instead of possessions and assets, millennials believe in sharing resources within their networks.
Millennials don't like to waste their time so they reward efficiency. They live their lives on their phones so they treat them like universal remotes that bring the world to them. Strangers are fine for most transactions, even previously intimate ones like riding in their cars or staying in a spare bedroom. They don't trust institutions so they would rather deal peer-to-peer with people who share their values.
The world has changed shape, from a hierarchical pyramid to an inclusive sphere. Decentralized tech like 3D printers and video-based education have followed the same trajectory as broadcast media and retail -- a transformation from push to pull delivery mechanisms.
The collaborative economy, enabled by zero infrastructure and on-demand resource access, has digitally transformed how businesses generate goods and services, as well as where their customers consume them.
One aspect of this that surprise many business owners is that you don't have to be an innovative, tech-centered startup to take advantage of these trends. Traditional industries like home repair, professional services, healthcare, local retailers and even insurance agencies can deploy some of these new ideas to open up new lines of business.
Here are some suggestions on making the most of zero infrastructure and digital sharing networks.
- Simplify – This is where some of the most disruptive concepts have come from, like Uber and many similar business models. Smartphones allow businesses to come to customers anywhere and for customers to track the progress of field service agents. Those two ideas alone will revolutionize any business.
- Set up a peer-to-peer community – There are many places where barter is coming back, where customers trade skill for skill or item for item. Peer-to-peer currency transfers are built into many chatbots as well. Applications of blockchain are making the collaborative economy easier for companies all over the world.
- Provide services on-demand – Amazon’s AWS made massive computer power available to everyone by the microsecond. Customers don’t pay for any time they don’t use. Just a simple change in how you bill customers can make your business futuristic and flexible, two factors that add up to an unbeatable competitive advantage.
- Identify all idle assets – How many hours per week does your office go unoccupied? You could share office space with other local businesses or get out of your lease entirely and use a coworking space. What percentage of the time do your servers sit unused? Rent out processing time on service like Google-funded Storj. Or get rid of your servers entirely and rent out processing time by the microsecond.
The zero infrastructure phone system
Speed and agility are essential to the modern business. In the old world of physical stores, location meant everything. In the digital world, timing is the new location. The accelerating speed of business is driven both by volatile supply dynamics and rapidly changing consumer tastes.
Acting quickly and exiting fast when conditions change means agile companies come out ahead. Agility is both a mindset and a technological framework, requiring a culture that isn’t bogged down by top-heavy command chains as well as one that works in real time. Agile businesses scale up quickly to meet a need and equip workers with the information they need to act decisively and smartly.
Spoke Phone is the phone system designed for the 100% mobile future of work. Traditional office phone systems tied you down financially and frustrated workers daily. Spoke is a platform that can be downloaded onto employee mobile phones in a matter of minutes and provide all the essential features of a virtual PBX, like simple transfers, free calling team-to-team, call log data reporting, simple touch screen interface to add/delete team members, DDI numbers in 56 countries and HD Voice for excellence in customer service.
Cloud-enabled, mobile-first platforms like Spoke Phone are a critical component of a smart growth strategy -- empowering every team member to create their own ideal working conditions. Companies aren’t limited by geography or time. They can attract talent from around the world access new markets everywhere on the planet for their products and services.
To learn more about Spoke and the next generation of voice communications, we welcome you to claim your own free trial or interactive demo.