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Mobile World Congress: Sharing Economy As A Platform For Long Term Growth

Between the Ford news at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona introducing an entirely autonomous vehicle called the Kuga SUV to better compete in the sharing economy and Tech Republic writing a feature on the new “time banking” movement which is putting peer to peer sharing at the heart of communities worldwide, it seems clear that the age of collaborative consumption shows no signs of abating any time soon as it continues to achieve a global footprint.

Don Butler, Ford’s executive director of connected vehicle and services, told the AP in reference to the Kuga “we like to think about it as the transition from just a hardware company to a software and mobility services company as well.”

“Mobility” as tied to the sharing economy was a major buzzword at the Mobile World Congress show. For Ford customers, it means a wide range of innovations from further integration of the Internet in cars, to ride-sharing and even the use of other modes of transport in conjunction with cars, like bicycles.

With ride-sharing platforms like Uber reshaping driving for many young would-be consumers, Ford is clearly looking to get a piece of the so-called sharing economy.

“Across the world when you see growth of these megacities, with 10 million or more folks, people want mobility solutions, they want options,” said Ford CEO Mark Fields. That can include car-sharing, ride-sharing or the use of multiple modes of transportation linked into one service — such as the use of a train and bike. He said Ford is testing some programs in this field, which he sees as “a big revenue opportunity.” Those projects include car-sharing in London and across Germany. Ford is also working on an experimental e-bikes program that Butler said it could one day mesh with car-sharing.

Further evidence of the weconomy’s growing influence across all aspects of business and society is the global time banking movement. Tech Republic a major media influencer did a profile on the concept this week validating the trend.

Timebanking lets you swap good deeds with neighbors and creates community by making everyone’s time worth the same amount and then swapping the value of those deeds. The phenomenon is exploding in regions across the world. In the US, St. Louis is a hotbed for this type of disruptive innovation. On the Louisville TimeBank Facebook page, a member who has come down with a cold extends a plea for homemade soup. The request is answered in minutes. “Thank you TB family!” she posted. “I’m good to go.” Other posts involve requests for plywood, borrowing a dog crate, offers to donate a propane tank and an old dryer.

Time banking is a global phenomenon that is taking shape from the US to Tokyo with the idea of peer-to-peer collaboration at its core. In fact there is even a time banking global directory. As no one makes a profit with this permutation of the sharing economy, it’s hard for skeptics to sneer at the sharing model when something of this level of authenticity serves as concrete proof of the permanence and long-term viability of collaborative consumption. Throw in one of the world’s leading companies touting the sharing economy as a platform for long term growth at Mobile World Congress and you clearly have not a fad but a phenomenon.

Billee Howard is Founder + Chief Engagement Officer of Brandthropologie, a cutting edge communications consulting firm specializing in helping organizations and individuals to produce innovative, creative and passionate dialogues with target communities, consumers and employees, while blazing a trail toward new models of artful, responsible, and sustainable business success. Billee is a veteran communications executive in brand development, trend forecasting, strategic media relations, and C-suite executive positioning. She has a book dedicated to the study of the sharing economy called WeCommerce released in December 2015 as well as a blog entitled the #HouseofWe dedicated to curating the trends driving our economy forward. You can read more about “WE-Commerce: How to Create, Collaborate, and Succeed in the Sharing Economy” right here!

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