Mark Gilbreath: Sharing Economy at Work: The Consumerization of Enterprise – The Accelerators – WSJ

Via Wall Street Journal:

— Caroline Woodham

Most of the now household names in the sharing economy seeded their explosive popularity by providing consumers with convenience and an irresistible end-to-end experience. Night out on the town? Tap Uber. Wanna go native on that weekend in Paris?  Tap Airbnb. Bloodied your knuckles trying to assemble that new desk? Tap TaskRabbit.

However, for many of these addictive services their greatest impact may yet be the disruption they drive within large enterprises.

Mobility and Choice: the New Corporate Change Masters

Look inside most big companies and you will find digitally literate professionals dissatisfied with the solutions provided by their in-house IT organizations.

Ubiquitous connectivity, portable computing and the cloud have spawned two powerful change masters — mobility and choice. They’ve put employees in charge. We can now work however and wherever we want and we do. The shift started somewhat benignly with bring your own device (BYOD) and then spread next to the apps populating our smartphones and tablets and shaping our workday.

The Sharing Economy at Work

A large and growing supply of business-capable sharing economy apps are now competing with internal corporate-supplied services. They are low-cost, easy to use and viral by design. Waiting on your marketing department to finish the graphics for that critical customer proposal? Tap oDesk and get it done on time and under budget. Off to the airport for the customer meeting? Tap Lyft to get there without the hassle and uncertainty of snaring a taxi. Headed to unfamiliar ground for your customer meeting? Tap LiquidSpace and book a great meeting space in real time. Care to impress your guests with a catered lunch? Tap Postmates.

Sharing at work is not a new disruption — rather, it’s just the next chapter in a continuing consumerization trend that last brought us the consumerization of IT. In 1996, as a sales exec at a large tech company, I was a member of the 50+ person interdepartmental team tasked with planning for the deployment of a new customer relations management (CRM) system. I recall it being a 12-month project with a million dollar price tag. Only four years later at my next company, acting alone, I clicked “Buy” on to authorize the $39 charge to my credit card and was operational in minutes.

Pioneers like Salesforce popularized SaaS, web-based business applications that were easy to use and even easier to purchase, with a click. With that, they took one of the first swings at the command-and-control business culture that has defined the Industrial Age. A $40 billion SaaS industry followed.

What lies ahead? Sharing at work will be massive. Some sharing at work services will focus their energies on feeding the hunger for mobility and choice that now guides us as consumers and as employees. Other services will direct their value propositions to the corporate managers desperate for flexibility, resiliency and capital efficiency.  The best in breed sharing at work solutions will do both, delighting end-users with simplicity and convenience and engaging the enterprise with cost savings and flexibility.

Real estate/workplace, business travel and staffing are three corporate functions well primed for disruption by sharing at work. My company LiquidSpace has its sights set squarely on the consumerization of workplace. We are attacking a $12 trillion commercial real estate industrythat brought us the soulless cube farms that now sit idle most of the work day and that contributes to over half of our carbon footprint globally.

Mobility and choice will prevail, and the planet will smile.

Mr. Gilbreath is CEO of LiquidSpace, a marketplace of workspaces and meeting rooms.