Participant / co-creator

The main characteristic of the We-economy is that value creation takes place in an ongoing interaction with a much broader set of stakeholders than what companies and organizations usually consider. 

This requires all involved to reconsider their roles in the process.

In the linear value chain of the industrial economy consumers were placed at the end of the value chain. Consumers simply bought finished products, used them, and discarded them when they had lost value.  Consumers were passive. They had little or no influence on the menu of choices they chose from.

Conversely, producers delivered finished goods to consumers, broadcasting identical products from the center to the masses. It was a one-way process, controlled by specialists.

But now, a different type of actor appears in the market: The participant and co-creator.

- A homeowner with solar panels on the roof is no longer just consuming energy, but produces and sells electricity to the grid.

- A customer sends her 3D file to the company Shapeways to have them print out the object in high quallity. But she also creates her own little shop on Shapeways’ website, where others can order 3D prints of her design.

- A person with a nice car can switch to being a chauffeur, or a small car-rental enterprise.  Someone with a spare room can operate like a hotel. A student can become a tutor. A video blogger becomes an overnight media star…

The lines are blurring
You can be both consumer and creator. Both professional and amateur. Both seller and buyer. Old categories are misleading, and both companies and the people, formerly known solely as consumers, should realize the opportunities that this presents.