The Sharing Economy and Its Implication for Training

The Fast Company had published an article titled “The Sharing Economy” early last year. The article was about how the Internet is revolutionizing the way people consume products and services. Just as we saw cloud computing take the center stage with its model of shared computing power, delivered as a utility, in the last couple of years we have seen innovative ways services are being rendered. GroupOn created quite a stir with its “democratized deal” model and we now have a number of clones, the most prominent among them being Living Social, gaining traction. So what are the key reasons for the sudden spurt in interest in the idea of “sharing economy”? There are two primary drivers:

  1. The growth in Internet and social network penetration and Smartphone adoption
  2. The Millenials or Gen Y graduating to become wage earners and thus wielding spending power

Services like ZipCar or GroupOn would have been difficult to imagine even 10 years ago. The idea of social networks really took hold only in the early 2000 with the growth of MySpace and subsequently Facebook. Social Networks allowed collaborative information sharing, consumption, and tilted the power-balance in favor of the crowd. The growth of social networks was also powered by the young millenials that were still in schools. The early adopters of MySpace and Facebook were school kids and college students respectively. So why did they embrace social media?

Marketers have defined the key traits of The Millenials or Gen Y. Some of the key traits they display include:

Crowd-Sourcing: Millennials rely on their friends and peers to validate their choices, be it their local circle or their online contacts, such as Facebook friends and Twitter followers. Crowdsourcing drives their rapid adoption of content and trends, internet memes and must-have technologies.

Experience Driven: Millennials value experience over materialistic goals and treat discovery of cool things as a form of currency, to be shared with friends. Millennials are willing to live a simple, frugal life if it is rich with experience.

For a complete list of all the key traits of Millenials, check out this article

As it is obvious the internet, and smartphones are the primary platforms that allowed the Millenials to express themselves and hence the popularity of Facebook and Twitter.

The propensity to value their peer’s likes and dislikes, willingness to share ideas with friends, and their obvious comfort with technology and tools point to a significant change in the way training will be delivered and consumed. As I had reiterated in my earlier post, in a sharing economy the power equation has shifted to those that can share information as opposed to those hoarding information. Training departments must take stock of the state of their learning infrastructure and content to ensure that they remain effective in this day and age.

Enjoy this Stephen Colbert’s interview with Steve Case on the sharing economy.

Srinivas Krishnaswamy


I love to read and share thoughts on technology, enterprise learning, mobile and any thing cool that impacts enterprises.

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Posted in Crowdsourcing, Social Learning, Training

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