B2B Sharing: The next step for the Sharing Economy?
The Sharing Economy is booming. More and more private customers are discovering the trend towards "using instead of owning". While P2P sharing, such as overnight stays in Airbnb private apartments or car sharing, is becoming increasingly popular, B2B sharing models are still rare. The classic industry seems to be waiting to see this trend. However, the importance of the B2B Sharing Economy will increase in the future.
Critical factors for B2B Sharing Economy
Sharing resources is not a matter of course for companies, even if it brings benefits. After all, companies have been competitors for decades, not collaborators. It is therefore understandable if there are reservations about sharing with direct competitors. If the potentially shared hard asset is industry-specific, B2B sharing is certainly a problem.
Excess capacity could also be interpreted as a sign of a company's poor economic situation and viewed critically with regard to cooperation. Trust as a basis for sharing resources is therefore very important. But building good business relationships takes time.
One obstacle for large companies can be the complex processes that make it difficult to intervene in well-established processes with a sharing concept. Then there are also legal gaps, such as insurance problems, which many P2P or B2C sharing initiatives are still solving. These uncertainties pose a risk and are understandably more serious in business relationships between companies.
Finally, the quality and user experience of the sharing services also play a role. For example, while a disappointing experience with an Airbnb apartment usually does not prevent a customer from trying again with another apartment, it is less likely that a company will pay for shared services if a bad experience could have greater consequences than an unmaintained Airbnb apartment.
Advantages of B2B sharing could tip the scales
However, the above obstacles to B2B exchange may become less relevant in the future, as the economic environment forces companies of all types and sectors to take advantage of them. In addition, there are many reasons for the principle of sharing in industry:
- Additional resources:Enterprises, in particular SMEs, will have access to resources to which they will not have access if they are not shared.
- Faster response to market changes:By using external sharing resources, companies become more efficient and can work faster. They pay for what they need when they need it, instead of making expensive investments. This enables them to respond more quickly and cost-effectively to market changes.
- Competitive advantages: The development of growth potential in new business areas as "compensation" for saturated markets, competitive differentiation from existing competitors, cost optimization of the value chain and the more flexible design of business processes through sharing offers (on-demand) are further advantages of B2B sharing.
B2B sharing thus leads to more flexibility and agility. Companies can focus on their strengths and outsource the rest. They have more resources to develop better products and can offer the same experience as a more traditional organization.
Marketplaces for B2B Sharing
For many companies, the B2B sharing approach is not really new. Airlines share their jets and services in alliances, the construction industry traditionally relies on the rental of equipment, technology and start-up centers use a common infrastructure and machinery rings have a long tradition in agriculture.
What is new, however, are the possible applications resulting from the innovative communication technologies. Digital change makes it possible to design completely new models of collaboration based on digital platforms and marketplaces. Fast and efficient access to various resources via mobile devices, apps and cloud platforms will become indispensable
But what about marketplaces for B2B exchange at the moment? The number of B2B Sharing Economy platforms is still low compared to the B2C and P2P counterparts. However, some B2B players already allow companies to share access to assets such as unused machinery or commercial space.
B2B sharing in production
Not all companies work 24-hour shifts. In many factories there are always standstill times that can be shared with other companies. In addition, flexible manufacturing technologies today offer companies the opportunity to share their production facilities and equipment much more easily than before.
This is exactly where the V-INDUSTRY online platform comes in. The company provides a marketplace where companies can share their machines. Another provider in this area is fabrikado. The platform enables the linking of customer orders with free production capacities of original equipment manufacturers. A total of twelve manufacturing processes can be selected. As a customer, you can calculate and order a desired metal or plastic component on the platform. From the time of the order fabrikado selects the suppliers and places the order.
Klickrent is a marketplace for the rental of machines and equipment for the construction industry. The Yard Club platform, recently acquired by Caterpillar, also offers construction companies the opportunity to share their equipment by renting it out when it is not used by their own companies.
For the companies involved, B2B sharing makes production more efficient, machines are better utilized and the ecological footprint is reduced at the same time. The supplier benefits from the flexible utilization of his production capacities and the customer can have production carried out at comparatively low investment costs.
B2B Sharing Models in Logistics
Empty runs make up a not inconsiderable part of all truck runs. Within the framework of B2B sharing, the empty loading areas can be brokered in freight exchanges and thus used sensibly. An example of this is the German ELVIS AG. The forwarding agents of the cooperative association save storage costs, rest periods, detours and, of course, resources with the partial loading system, which is based on a complex software.
Via the Flexe platform, companies can rent additional or unused storage space. It provides warehouse networks that can be scaled as needed by connecting companies that need storage space with companies that can offer additional storage space.
The Floow2 platform is about exchanging all aspects of the supply chain between companies. Asset overcapacity can be shared with other companies, within a corporate network or within a (healthcare) organization between departments or entities - from trucks and equipment to equipment, materials, services, facilities and personnel.
B2B sharing of medical resources
B2B sharing also works in the healthcare sector. One example of sharing medical technology resources is the Cohealo platform. The underlying software combines analysis and logistics, enabling hospitals to track and manage costly medical devices in real time. This, coupled with Cohealo's collaboration with logistics partners, enables hospitals to share capital-intensive equipment with each other according to demand, thus reducing investment costs.
Conclusio: B2B sharing has great potential
In Europe, the B2B Sharing Economy is still in its infancy across all industries, especially if the US market is taken as a reference. Of course, in many places you already work closely with selected partners, for example in the supply chain. In B2B, on the other hand, there is still little real collaboration in the sense of the sharing principle. However, B2B sharing offers immense but still largely untapped potential for growth and efficiency. In the wake of Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things, this assessment is slowly gaining a foothold in established industries as well.
Born in Lower Austria. At LEAD Innovation she works as Head of Innovation and focuses on agile innovation management via SCRUM.