IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - June 2021 - 26

Commentary
for electrical power generation and distribution
throughout the developing world, highlighting the
present status, opportunities, and challenges. The
final section concludes the article with a consideration
of future directions.
Sharing Economy Components
The idea behind the sharing economy, the sharing
of private resources for public consumption is not
new. In earlier phases of human evolution or some
present tribal societies, people have always shared
the resources [18], even when there is no equal participation
or contribution. Before the smartphone
era, there were " bandit cabs " running exclusively
for Korean immigrants by the same ethnic group in
the United States [7]. What makes a huge difference
in today's world is the use of information and communication
technologies (ICTs) to produce physical
realities. Baskerville et al. [6] call this " ontological
reversal, " wherein physical goods or tangible things
are converted into digital goods for further transactions
or trading. For instance, air ticket booking data
can result in different revenue-generating business
processes like local transport, food, and associated
services. This reversal forms the backbone of the
sharing economy businesses. An unutilized physical
car or a spare room in the house can become a digital
good and is available for trading or commercial
use. The barriers to entry, flexibility in scheduling,
and relative autonomy in choosing the load of work
are enablers of the sharing economy [7]. However,
sharing economy should not be confused with conventional
e-commerce platforms like Amazon.
The definition of sharing economy is contested
[1] and discussed under different labels [9], [29],
[49], [56]: collaborative consumption, collaborative
economy, on-demand economy, and peer-to-peer
economy. The main differences with the traditional
firms are asset ownership and the use of online platforms.
Frenken and Schor [18] offer a clear definition-consumers
granting each other temporary
access to under-utilized physical assets idle capacity,
possibly for money (p. 5) and highlight three clear
features-consumer-to-consumer interaction (c2c),
temporary access, and physical goods. The sharing
economy is different from the on-demand economy
(customer creates demand by ordering), second-hand
economy (customers selling the old thing
to others), and product-service economy (goods and
services are sold online). Using this definition, a car
26
that was bought only for listing in Uber is part of the
on-demand economy. A car becomes part of sharing
economy when it is idle, but in use by consumers
otherwise. From a purist view, this is a clear differentiator
from other digital platforms which have some
variation of sharing. In the popular bike-sharing
platforms like Didi or Bluegogo, a user can access a
dockless motorcycle for a fee and leave it anywhere
in the city after the use [11], [62]. The bikes are
owned by the commercial service provider or the
platform, not the individuals.
The sharing economy is a complex dynamic
system with multiple components influencing
each other's behaviors [26]. Hannon et al. [32] list
nine building blocks while analyzing the business
model-partners, resources, activities, customer
relationships, customer segments, customer value
proposition, revenue stream, channels, and cost
structure. The present article uses the same with
minor changes. The key partners are referred to
as suppliers/service providers. The key activities,
value proposition, customer relationships, and
channels are bundled together as the (electronic)
platform. The key resources are presented as infrastructure
facilities. The cost structure and revenue
stream are bundled together as a pricing structure.
An additional component of public policy/regulation
is added, considering the importance of the
government for the power distribution. Accordingly,
the following components of the sharing
economy are presented to explore the feasibility
for the power sector.
* Suppliers/Service Providers: The people who are
willing to share the unutilized resources with others
for a fee, facilitated by an electronic platform.
complementary
* Infrastructure Facilities: The
assets that facilitate the functioning of the sharing
economy-use of smartphones, telecom access,
availability of automobiles for shared mobility,
and better roads.
* Customers: The people who pay or willing to pay
to use the goods being offered by the service
providers.
* Platform: The electronic intermediary through
which suppliers and customer transact for which
a fee is levied.
* Pricing Structure: The quantity of the fee
exchanged between the suppliers and customers,
and the fee charged by the platform. The
market and the state can mediate this.
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