“The physical world is becoming democratised,” says Jeremiah Owyang, Chief Catalyst & Founder of the newly launched Crowd Companies.
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Addressing the audience at the 10th edition of the tech conference Le Web, Owyang’s illuminating talk aimed to contextualise the direction in which the world is moving thanks to innovations such as 3D-printing, Bitcoin, crowd funding and social sharing. Examples of this new, shared economy have disrupted both governments (Wikileaks), and media (Napster), going back as far as the mid 1990s.
Owyang argues that because of the impact of social media, people — the ‘crowd’ — have become increasingly empowered, so much so that people can now get the things they want and need from their friends (and greater network), rather than through brands.
For example, social networks like Twitter changed the way we receive and engage with news and information, for Owyang, the next phase — the next ten years — will see the same thing happen to the physical world. With something like 3D-printing, people are now empowered to get the physical world from each other.
As the prevalence of 3D-printing and its accompanying ‘Maker Culture’ evolves over the next decade not only will the market mature and stablise — making the cost of manufacturing goods cheaper for the maker — but so will the ease of sharing those ‘made goods’. Think of a 3D fax machine, sending 3D printed goods between two people.
Here’s the kicker though, things are accelerating extremely quickly, so how do corporations adapt? What role does your company play when people can get everything they want and need from each other?
In a sentence: “the crowd is going to become a part of your company,” says Owyang.
By incorporating the crowd, companies can seek ‘purposeful profit’ — not just monetary, but social (impact) profit — as well as maximise their resources, and harness the power of crowd innovation.
Furthermore, Owyang argues that if your brand is to be resilient, you need to not only accept the crowd, but you need to collaborate with it. Just as companies needed time to adjust to social media, it will take time to adjust to the social shared world, but the same strategies can be used to create or regain relevancy. If you partner with the empowered, then you will become resilient.
With this in mind Owyang believes that the next ten years will be defined by the crowd and companies working together. He believes this so strongly that his newly launched (it literally went live during the Le Web talk) Crowd Companies operates as a platform to connect startups to corporates. His hope is that Crowd Companies can serve as a ‘brand council’ for the shared economy, maker movement, and co-innovation.