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Sharing economy: Using is the new having

What are the implications, challenges and potential of sharing for industry?

The sharing economy has arrived, but what has it brought with it? It is too early to tell what impact changing consumer patterns will have on mainstream industry, and how this in turn will affect the demand for products and services. Fraunhofer IAO’s newly formed Shared Systems Design competence team is helping companies tackle the challenges posed by the sharing economy.

More and more of us are seeing the virtues of “using” rather than “buying.” While individuals are taking advantage above all of the chance to share such things as cars, holiday homes or consumer goods, the attraction for companies lies in sharing infrastructure, facilities or high-end equipment. Not only do these sharing trends make sense as an efficient use of resources, they also open up a vast array of new operator and business models.

There is already a wide range of offers out there, borne out of greater awareness for sustainable development and based on information and communication technology systems with advanced functions. Whereas to begin with, most ideas were worked up by end users, now a raft of new companies is offering sharing as a service.

Chief among them are newly formed companies such as accommodation portal airbnb and lending community whyownit, as well as offshoots of established companies such as Car2Go.

Even though the bulk of sharing opportunities available today are still improvised and aimed at a very specific audience, the market for sharing already boasts significant turnover. Recent studies are predicting not only strong growth, but also that sharing will spread to new areas of application. To tap this potential, Fraunhofer IAO has formed the Shared Systems Design competence team. The team brings together experts in technology and innovation management and pools their know-how to work with companies to develop concepts and solutions for the sharing economy. The business-to-business (B2B) segment is taking center stage, with B2B infrastructure in particular offering plenty of opportunity to make more efficient and effective use of resources.

Strategic development of technological and organizational solutions for the sharing of resources is one key aspect of this work. But before established industry companies can successfully position themselves amid changing consumer patterns, they have to understand what is motivating people to share products in the first place.

The new Fraunhofer IAO team engages in trend analyses, works up scenarios and creates sharing systems with a focus on their organization, business models and platforms. The experts also determine which products are suitable for sharing and the technologies required to make sharing them a success.


Michael Bucher
Shared Systems' Design
Fraunhofer IAO
Nobelstraße 12
70569 Stuttgart, Germany
Phone +49 711 970-2297

Juliane Segedi | Fraunhofer-Institut
Further information:

Further reports about: B2B Design Thinking IAO Shared Care business models

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