The Sharing Economy Helps Firms Make—or Save—Money

By Tony Kontzer Print this article Print
Sharing Economy

Companies need to monetize their excess capacity, including their excess data center, warehouse or trucking capacity. Name it, and you can probably share it.

"Millennials are acting different from any other generation in terms of the workplace," says Erik Day, Dell's head of small business, and the person who oversees the company's WeWork spaces. "They want to be uber flexible. If they can do their job from anywhere, that is their preference."

For instance, Day says Dell is adding the Austin WeWork space specifically to attract Millennial call center employees, many of whom live in downtown Austin and don't want to commute to Round Rock. Giving them the option of working downtown—near public transit, abundant dining options and hip after-work hangouts—is expected to aid in recruitment efforts, as it has in Chicago, New York and South Beach.

"It's important to provide that type of environment so you can recruit the very best talent out there," he explains. "We need to [do] that so we can keep up with the changing workplace."

Day acknowledges that sharing economy security has been a significant area of focus as it has embraced these new business models. He says that safeguarding data—both its customers' and its own—is the most important preparation the company makes before opening a new WeWork space. Verifying that each facility's Internet connection is secure, as well as being fast and resilient, is a key part of that process.

While ensuring that data and network security are up to snuff is critical, there are other IT components that need to be in place to take advantage of more complex shared resources, such as vehicles, warehouses or other asset-oriented resources.

Along those lines, Gartner's de Silva Leon says that whether companies are looking to resell their excess capacity or tap into someone else's, they'll need a modern and highly automated supply chain platform if they want to make the most of the sharing economy. "If you're a company that's been around forever and is running on very old systems, you're probably not going to be able to take advantage," he points out.

Also, given the growing prominence of the sharing economy, sitting on the sidelines won't be a sustainable model for much longer.

This article was originally published on 2016-06-02

Tony Kontzer has been writing about the intersection of technology and business for more than 20 years and has been a regular contributor to Baseline since 2007.

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