Welcome to the Sharing Economy: Rent Is the New Own

Celia Brown

My husband fantasizes about driving a Lamborghini. A Chanel handbag is on my own wish list. With price tags starting at  $200,000 and $2000 respectively, we don’t have realistic aspirations of shopping for a car in the sharing economybuying either one. But with the rising popularity of services that offer access to shared resources,  we can “rent” a luxury car hourly or daily from a service like Getaround and luxury bags are readily available at reasonable monthly rates at BagBorrowSteal.

Why own when you can rent something better? Welcome to the new sharing economy, where rent is truly the new own.

Fashion for rent

I am sure I’m not the only woman who wears an evening gown once or twice and then lets it sit in the closet unworn for years. Rent The Runway (RTR) launched in 2009 to help women expand their wardrobes in a budget-friendly way. It was founded by Jennifer Hyman and Jenny Fleiss and has raised $54.4 million from Conde Nast and various venture capital firms. Instead of buying a new dress and paying top dollar, RTR offers a selection of designer brands and new styles that can be rented for a quarter of the cost.

The end of storage wars

No need for a war thanks to the new service StowThat. For those with empty closets, sheds, and garages- you can now rent that space to neighbors in search of some additional storage. StowThat won a prize in a recent TechCrunch meetup so we can expect to hear more buzz about this great start-up company later this fall.

 Share a car or just a ride

ZipCar, a car-sharing services that has been hugely successful in urban areas and college campuses, enables to access to a car rental for an hour or even a day without the hassles and high fees associated with traditional rental car services. ZipCar offers its own line of cars but other services have been popping up that offer access to rides only.  RedRide aggregates data from car sharing services like Uber, Sidecar, and Lyft and presents which cars are closest and the cost of the ride. They call it a for ridersharing and we will probably see more cost comparison services like this in the near future.

The corner office: Yours for the day

Although the SAP Americas campus where I work has upwards of 2000 work areas, there is still a waiting list for desks. Many of my colleagues carry their personal technology with them each day and grab an available desk wherever they can find one. With the increasing size of the entrepreneurial and freelance workforce, it seems that “desks” are another commodity that can be shared for optimal utilization. Co-working, the sharing of workspace on the basis of a desire for community, offers both workers many of the benefits of an office environment – from office supplies and coffee to that invaluable exchange of ideas and inspiration that happens around the “water cooler.”  No need to commit to the financial risk and burden of buying office space when you can “pay by the drink” for only the space and time you need.

What other goods or services do you anticipate we will be leveraging technology to “rent” or share in the future?

Original post on Business Trends

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This Leadership Framework Helped Lincoln Save the Union. You Should Try It.

Ted Coine

Leaders are leaders, regardless of their area of endeavor: business, the military, politics, charity, Lincoln leadershipclubs; even family.

The lessons we learn from leaders in one arena are often at least as valuable as those from our own, because of the outside perspective they lend.

Take Abraham Lincoln, for example. To our knowledge, Switch and Shift has few politicians who are readers. But the lessons of this great politician span any field, including business.

There exists a wide consensus that Lincoln was America’s greatest President. He was inspirational, a surprisingly savvy politician, and above all humble (something most leaders in any realm could emulate). But more importantly than any personal characteristics, he got it – he understood how to achieve the mission he was called upon to perform.

How did Lincoln do it? He mastered what I call the “principles-to-practices framework”. It goes like this:

  • Principles – The view from space
  • Strategies – The view from 30,000 feet up
  • Tactics – The view from a second-story balcony
  • Practices – The view if you lie on your stomach and look down

Most leaders have a tough enough time with the second level of this framework, (strategy), not to mention the first (principles). Indeed, once you get comfortable viewing the world through the lens of “principles to practices”, you see again and again how organizations and their leaders clearly don’t get it.

Let’s dive into “principles to practices” with Lincoln’s presidency, and you’ll quickly see how effective it is.

Principle: Save the union

That’s it. Abraham Lincoln was a very active man as President, but he did not have two principles he stood for, or three, or ten. He realized from the day the South began to clamor for succession that only one thing mattered. Everything he did as President he measured against this single question: Will it, or will it not, help me save the Union?

What about your company? What are your principles? Better yet, can you name just one, and measure everything you do by your own version of Lincoln’s litmus test?

From here, staying with Lincoln’s example, we’ll focus on just one of each of the next three items in the framework. In real life, please understand that any one principle will spawn one, two, or even a dozen strategies simultaneously, and each of those will have many tactics under it, etc. I like to think of a tree, with one trunk branching into a few big roots, to ever-more-numerous small roots.

So to continue with Lincoln…

Strategy: Wear the confederacy down until they surrender

Lincoln had a tremendous amount of trouble finding the right commanding general, it’s true, but he always knew what he needed his generals to do: fight, and fight, and fight, until the South was exhausted into capitulation. He knew the superior economy and larger population of the North would eventually prevail, if he could just keep his own people from giving up on him.

Tactic: Charge head-on, and don’t let up until the enemy is driven to flee

This is where General Grant took over from Lincoln in the execution of the war. His job was to do exactly what his President expected of him, which was to fight until he won. How he did that was up to him. We can second-guess the tremendous loss of Union life this head-on approach took versus a more agile general such as Lee, but that is for another post (probably on a history blog).

Practice: Give the soldiers 50 rounds of ammunition each, and resupply them as needed

Practices can – and often should – be changed daily, if need be. Are 50 bullets too heavy, and not necessary? Lower it to 20. Are 50 too few? Raise it to 100. Who cares? Experiment at lot, and do what works. When that stops working, change it.

Most companies are really good at measuring minutia, at determining an optimum number of bullets…or number of minutes a call center operator should be on the line, to bring this back to a business context. But as we go from the easy metrics to the less-quantifiable stuff – like “Why do we have a call center in the first place?” or “Why are so many of our customers calling with complaints?” – companies have trouble.

Worse, many have no idea there even is trouble, until it bites them in the butt with mass defection to a more customer-centric competitor.

That’s a shame. And it’s completely unnecessary. A little work higher on this framework can transform your business.

For my first post on the Principles-to-Practices Framework, read This Trumps Strategy. You Need More of This.


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The Persuasion – and Politics – of Big Data

Zachary Tumin

colleagues try persuasion techniques when talking to executiveSuccess with data-driven decision-making requires moving the right people toward a non-debatable goal, business-driven, with a feasible plan, well-incented, and operating over strong platforms. That takes negotiation and persuasion, the twin arts of political management.

There are two common fronts on which the political battle will be fought.

Data acquisition

Whether for a supply chain, omnichannel marketing, or health records exchange, you may not own much of the data you need and will use. Data will be stuck inside systems you don’t control, in strange formats, and with legal strictures attached.  Provenance may be unclear.

To free up others’ data and bring it onto your platform, you’ll need to negotiate and persuade, then deliver on the promises you made to get the data in the first place.

One issue will be governance. Who owns the data you will be sharing? Agencies and business owners can square off on this, for example. How will the data be used once it is shared? There will need to be agreements around purposes and uses.  Who will be responsible for security and confidentiality? No one wants any eyeballs but those authorized to view highly confidential data.

These are some of the critical issues that sound governance must address.

Shifting gears from finger-in-the-wind to data-driven

“Getting people to take the medications that they know are good for them is still a challenge,” Michael Palmer, the head of innovation at Aetna, recently told an interviewer. The same is true for corporations. Think of data-driven decision-making as the new “medicine” for firms.

How to get this done?

At EMI, David Boyle called upon his own empathic skills for persuasion. His data replacing experienced scouts’ gut feel? That was a powerful headwind. The key was a slow process of negotiation and persuasion, backed by clear business wins, all the while shifting to new, data-driven business models. The shift, which was huge, appeared to be quite small to start, with the wins still owned by others, same as it ever was.


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McKinsey Says CEOs Are Bullish on Technology

Norman Marks

Employees using technology such as a digital tabletsI use the word “technology”, but McKinsey prefers “digital” No matter, the consulting firm’s global survey indicates that not only can new technology enable increased revenue, customer satisfaction, and improved processes, but CEOs are stepping up to lead such efforts.

Why? McKinsey found that 65 percent of the C-level executives they surveyed expect new technology will increase their companies’ operating income over the next three years, and are among their top ten priorities.

Here are some key points

  • Companies are using digital technology more and more to engage with customers and reach them through new channels. What’s more, growing shares [i.e., a growing number of respondents] report that their companies are making digital marketing and customer engagement a high-strategic priority. Nevertheless, there is more work to do: most executives estimate that at best, their companies are one-quarter of the way toward realizing the end-state vision for their digital programs.
  • Executives say each of the five digital trends we asked about [Big Data and advanced analytics, digital engagement of customers, digital engagement of employees and external partners, automation, and digital innovation] is a strategic priority for their companies. Of these, the trend that ranks highest is customer engagement: 56 percent say digital engagement of customers is at least a top-ten company priority, and on the whole respondents report notable progress since 2012 in deploying practices related to this trend. Companies have made particularly big gains in their use of digital to position material consistently across channels and to make personalized or targeted offers available online.
  • By comparison, companies have been slower to adopt digital approaches to engaging their own employees, suppliers, and external partners. Here, executives say their companies most often use online tools for employee evaluations and feedback or knowledge management. Smaller shares report more advanced uses, such as collaborative product design or knowledge sharing across the supply chain.
  • Responses also indicate growth in the company-wide use of Big Data and advanced analytics, matching our experience with companies of all stripes, where we are seeing executives consider analytics a critical priority and dedicate increasing attention to the deployment of new analytic tools. Notably, respondents report increased use of data to improve decision making, R&D processes, and budgeting and forecasting. What’s more, executives say their companies are using analytics to grow: the largest shares report focusing their analytics efforts on either increasing revenue or improving process quality; reducing costs tends to rank as a lower-level priority.
  • When asked about the next wave of business-process automation, respondents say their companies are automating a wide range of functions to improve the overall quality of processes.
  • When asked about innovation practices, more than 40 percent of respondents say their companies are either incorporating digital technology into existing products or improving their technology operating models (for instance, using cloud computing). Just 23 percent say they are creating digital-only products.
  • Across most of the C-suite, larger shares of respondents report that their companies’ senior executives are now supporting and getting involved in digital initiatives. This year, 31 percent say their CEOs personally sponsor these initiatives, up from 23 percent who said so in 2012. This growth illustrates the importance of these new digital programs to corporate performance, as well as the conundrum that many organizations face: often, the CEO is the only executive who has the mandate and ability to drive such a cross-cutting program.
  • Despite the host of technical challenges in implementing digital, respondents say the success (or failure) of these programs ultimately relies on organization and leadership, rather than technology considerations.

McKinsey identifies 3 factors in an organization’s success using technology effectively

  1. Finding the right digital leaders (They point to C-level involvement and the appointment of a chief digital officer)
  2. Managing expectations
  3. Prioritizing talent

I would add to that:

  1. A willingness to take intelligent risks with technology: While it can be dangerous to be on the bleeding edge, it can be equally dangerous to be left behind by the competition
  2. Agility: There is no point trying to layer new technology on the top of a legacy infrastructure that is old and immobile, or on an organization that has equally stale and stubborn attitudes towards change
  3. Reliable processes for identifying and adopting new technologies

I welcome your views.


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How Predictive Analytics Is Changing Hollywood

Sponsor Post

hollywood sign

Hollywood film executives often wrestle with the decision of whether or not to back a film with blockbuster potential. It may seem promising if hot directors love the script and major stars are interested in it, too. But in Hollywood, there are no guarantees. That project you’re thinking of green lighting could wind up being a hit – or it could be a career-destroying flop.

With films often costing $150 million and up, film studios need a better way than gut feelings to ensure they get their money back. Just look at last year’s “John Carter” (which lost some $200 million for its investors) and it’s easy to understand why. That’s the reason many producers are moving beyond intuition and focus-group research and starting to turn to predictive analytics.

Predictive analytics identifies patterns in past data. For example, if a proposed script is a raucous comedy about a wedding aboard a cruise ship, the data process can take into account information on how well recent comedies have done, while adding in box office receipts for previous wedding films. Programmers would also include information on movies that took place aboard cruise ships, along with the track records of the potential stars and the director. The more data that’s added, the more accurate the predictions will be. Analysts may even include data taken from user comments on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.

So-called script evaluators can also suggest changes to a script, such as that cruise ship comedy not including a scene set in a bowling alley – movies with bowling alley scenes tend not to do well, script evaluator Vinny Bruzzese told the New York Times. Entire characters can also be rewritten to reflect the latest data. Are vampires still a good bet? Look to predictive analytics to find out.

Ultimately, predictive analytics can give filmmakers the ability to make smarter decisions and have a better idea of how much money their films will make well before they’re released. That could mean fewer bombs and more films that audiences would actually want to see.

In the meantime, though, we may still have to slog through long Saturday nights watching films that should never have been made.


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