The Internet of Things: The Catalyst Behind the Sharing Economy

By Ludovico Fassati, Head of IoT, Vodafone Americas

Ludovico Fassati, Head of IoT, Vodafone Americas

In today’s world, the Internet of Things (IoT) impacts numerous industries and the way we work overall. No longer are we stuck in siloed divisions within a company or organization. Almost everything is connected, from our phones, laptops, cars, cloud-based drives, and more. As a result, we’ve seen the evolution of a new economy around sharing. From sharing photos to sharing experiences, an entire sharing economy has developed as technology advancements continues to connect us.

IoT has ultimately become a key to the growth of the sharing economy. In general, the sharing economy is slated to grow immensely in the near future, thanks to massive tech companies such as Airbnb, Uber, and Lyft, but it spans across a multitude of industries. According to the Brookings Institution, the sharing economy is estimated to grow from $14 billion in 2014 to $335 billion by 2025. The sharing economy has also proven to significantly improve pollution, traffic, waste, and more, making IoT key for each. The introduction of new processes is extremely disruptive to traditional businesses. In this regard, the introduction of IoT to the already powerful growth of the sharing economy also brings about major changes to existing processes.

In my opinion, there is no such thing as the sharing economy without IoT, as it enables the sharing economy by acting as a connecter of different components to people who want to use them. When owners and users of a certain thing are not the same individual, IoT is key to get information on how the thing is used: damages, usage time, asset conditions, etc. One example of this is connected scooters, as they continue to gain traction in the U.S., especially in San Francisco Bay Area. Similarly, bike sharing continues to sweep across the nation and ride sharing continues to expand both in the U.S. and around the world. Each of these options require connection through IoT in order to come into fruition. Without the connectivity of hundreds of thousands of devices, each of which are transferring information, the sharing economy would have minimal effects to today’s economy. Connected devices through IoT allows for more efficient peer-to-peer activity.

IoT also enables the micro mobility component of the sharing economy. An example of this is placing a standard SIM card on a connected scooter, and using said SIM card to configure secure payment channels directly from the scooter to a rider’s phone payment source. One basic use of using this payment channel is to charge a rider for the length of his or her ride. The distance of a ride can easily be tracked, which allows for accurate charge amounts based on the scooter’s use.

On the topic of transportation, IoT is also changing the way consumers buy cars. We are in an era where individual car ownership is slowly beginning to dwindle. As an alternative, consumers can now share an owned car, which in turn is a more efficient use of a vehicle. Car manufacturer Porsche recently put this idea to the test by implementing Vodafone Automotive telematics and IoT network to its “Share a Porsche” service, which allowed for service reliability and reporting accuracy.

The introduction of IoT becomes more important as the sharing economy grows. As traditional industries begin to transform and utilize the latest technology, our economies also begin to shift, which is how the shared economy was brought upon. Some of the world’s largest companies utilize the shared economy, and at the heart of that growth is IoT, acting as one of the main catalysts for its growth.

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