What Is The Big Picture Idea Of The Mesh

What If what we’re calling the recession is actually an emergence of a whole new economy? Can sharing models breathe new life Into our companies, communities, tools, technologies, teams and brands?

What if you could have convenient, 24/7 access to the goods and services you need and want, but without the expense and burden of owning them? There are already thousands of businesses and organizations that are forging new ways of doing just that. Some are big businesses like Amazon, Twitter, Facebook and Spotify. Others are local, like pop-up shops, marketplace exchanges and peer-to-peer lending communities.

Additionally, mobile services like Foursquare, live bookings, and Groupon are driving new customers towards local merchants, urban farms and markets. These businesses are saving some customers money, and, in some cases, even helping their customers make additional income. These businesses are helping to increase the utility from items which we already own. That’s the Mesh. And the Mesh will increasingly shape how businesses design products, partner, define markets, delight their customers and manage their brands.

Sharing has been central to many of the services that we regularly use. Think “share platforms” such as hotels, office buildings, public markets and of course, airlines. These all provide services that we essentially pay for use as they are needed or desired. Despite the wealth of these platforms, the historical value of a business or a brand has often been based largely on what was owned. Today, to be responsive to new markets, changing economic and cultural conditions, and new laws, companies and their customers are increasingly embracing the idea that access to goods, often trumps ownership of them.

Take Ofoto, (now Kodak Gallery), a company I co-founded in 1999 and raised nearly $60M to fund. We needed to own our equipment and develop our own photo-sharing and printing platform anew. Today, with cloud computing services, personal publishing platforms and Business to-Business fulfillment services like Amazon Web Services and payment systems like Paypal, Today, we could build Ofoto for five percent (5%), of the money we raised a decade ago. Going forward, we can use these services, experience, tools and teams only when we need them, and pay for only what we use. If your business already owns these systems and services, providing them to business customers rather than selling the equipment also reaps handsome benefits.

This is the perfect moment for businesses to re-assess their core business model and consider how their products might be shared, rather than sold outright. To do so, they need to fully embrace the next information revolution. Take Netflix versus Blockbuster as an example. Blockbuster rented rather than sold movies, yet today Netflix and Lovefilm have each conspicuously won over the market. They fully embrace the Mesh by effectively using data about its customers and their friends to hone its offers. They have more than kept pace with advances in video technologies, sought innovative partners and consistently reward their customers for sharing their opinions and recommendations to the growing community of happy Netflix and Lovefilm customers.

Here Are 5 Tips That Business People Can Implement Immediately. 
Squeeze more goodness from existing assets. UK’s Whipcar, for example, takes advantage of the fact that most cars now sit for an average of over 92%!!. By creating a secure and convenient way for people to rent their cars to their neighbors, Whipcar (UK) and RelayRides (U.S.), and deWays (France) are leveraging a hugely under-utilized asset. Existing businesses can focus on the service their product provides, rather than just the product itself. When they do, the business will have greater opportunities to interact with customers, extend their brands, collect valuable permission-based information, and customize its offers.

Learn to be boldly honest. Say what you do and acknowledge what you did. Open, transparent and responsive communication is essential. In a world where so many people are connected to each other and vocal with sharing their opinions, companies cannot afford to spin and massage their message as they attempt to win the hearts and minds of their customers. Talk candidly to people. Promise what you can really deliver – don’t over-reach or attempt to hide policy changes in fine print. And, when hiccups happen, and they will, simply come forward, make good, apologize and restore the faith. In a mesh world, there is real success in sharing failures, honestly.

Test. Learn. Tweak. WIn. Use market trials. One of the more valuable aspects of Mesh services is that products can be tested inexpensively, before being rolled out broadly. Trials are a wonderful way to learn early, tweak the business model and refine it before a major rollout. In a data driven world and with the tools, platforms and partnerships available, Mesh businesses happily collect, digest and convert the data from these trials to real value.

StrIve to perpetually delIght customers. Social networks and services like Twitter create buzz. They also generate more attention. As your company’s reach and exposure grows, so too does the challenge to being responsive. The success of these things depends on how well your team understands snf embraces the core values. We are really just at the beginning of this era. Experiment early and make the inevitable mistakes quickly and learn. Convert those valuable experiences into a winning strategy, team and brand.

Demand value from waste. For the natural world, there’s an expression “waste equals food.” What that means is that waste from one system becomes food for another, and in an overall balanced system, there is no waste. Many companies are discovering that by more efficiently using what they have they can boost their profits. For example, emeco furniture partnered with Coca Cola to create the 111 Navy chair. The chair is made from 111 used plastic bottles. The chair is beautiful, widely sold, appreciated and is an embodiment of the value captured in what we have historically called waste. This “reverse value chain,” where companies engineer the recovery of their product through re-use, up-cycling, and recycling is another significant way to stay close to your customer, enrich the brand and profit from waste. If access, convenience, openness and personalization are the bywords of the future, Mesh businesses are poised to win and sustain their lead.