It’s no secret that today’s generation of adults, old or young, are the most tech savvy consumers that the modern world has ever seen. Information technology has increased the speed and efficiency of business operations in nearly every market of products and services. Concerning the idea of shared consumption becoming integrated into modern society, information technology becomes an even more valuable and useful tool for the success of future businesses. The problem however is that though the internet is now 21 years old, it has expanded (and still is) to amazing levels that need regulating in order for efficient sharing to occur in day to day transactions.
Take the example of RelayRides, a car rental service that was designed to be interactive instantaneously with the use of a mobile application. The idea was to create a service that would allow users to quickly look up cars that are available for rental based on their immediate location. The goal was to achieve “instant mobility”. The problem was that in order to attain a service that was truly “instant”, a lot of expensive equipment was needed to be able to use information technology to make cars accessible from virtually anywhere. The specific technology needed involved having a system where customers of RelayRides could unlock cars with their smartphones to avoid forcing the owner to be present with their car at any given time.
While I do believe that the shared economy poses a much more efficient method of consumption in the long run, there still remains a vast amount of improvement to regulation and monitoring of information technology before such an economy can work. With the example of RelayRides, I would imagine that it would be a fairly unsettling feeling for the car owners to allow strangers to both unlock and use their property without them even being present to hand over the keys, let alone even see the person’s face. This is only one example of potential issues with a truly “instant” sharing mechanism for consumptions. IT makes it harder to hold people accountable when things go bad creating a large demand for computer science professionals in the near future.
All in all, I firmly believe that a shared economy can significantly reduce the negative impacts of mass consumption (environmental, economic impacts), however the true integration of shared products and services that use IT will require much more cyber regulation and monitoring than what already exists today.