With the rise of connectivity, we are creating new forms of organization within our economies, both on the institutional and physical level. Institutionally we are seeing the rise of networked organizations that harness the mass of people’s productive capacities, through on-demand networks. On the physical level, networks are proliferating with the development of the services economy, where the function of products becomes virtualized and delivered as-a-service which again can be aggregated through networks on-demand, in a world that is centered around the end user. This rise of networks and hyperconnectivity is one of the most radical and powerful forces shaping our world today. The advent of information technology and the internet has resulted in a massive reduction in collaboration costs, and the possibility for people to set up their own networks of collaboration, giving presence to a mass of new networked organizations as they increasingly become the organizational structure of post-industrial economies.
This new economy, driven by connectivity is very different to the industrial age economy. Instead of being about the familiar products and ownership paradigm that we are so used to, it is about services and access. This is the so- called access economy also called the services economy or sharing economy. The access economy is a business model where goods and services are traded on the basis of access rather than ownership: it refers to renting things temporarily rather than selling them permanently. As one person describes it – “The access economy is what emerges when access to (x) becomes cheap, satisfactory, convenient and reliable enough that the premium on ownership of (x) disappears.” So instead of owning your music on CDs you have access to a music service that streams them, or instead of owning movies you have access to them on demand via an online streaming service. Instead of owning a car you have access to transportation via a car sharing service. And the list goes on ever expanding as new businesses emerge with new access based services to disrupt the existing product based incumbents.
This model uses a technology platform, often accessed via a mobile device, to connect suppliers willing to rent assets, for example, apartments for rent or cars for transportation, with end users. This may reduce the need for intermediaries – for example, centrally organized businesses such as taxi companies – between the supplier and consumer. Such platforms may also be used to connect employers and workers for employment opportunities, bypassing traditional employment service firms and traditional fixed employer-employee relationships.