It’s not Uber, but emer­gence of plat­form econ­omy

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

THIS MONTH marked a deeply sad episode in the #UberWar (bat­tle be­tween taxi cabs and Uber driv­ers). Lin­de­lani Mashau was caught up in a fiery in­ferno when a petrol bomb was thrown at his Uber-reg­is­tered ve­hi­cle. He died on July 17.

Mashau was sit­ting in­side the car out­side Lof­tus Vers­feld when he was at­tacked, with a petrol bomb thrown at his car on the week­end of June 10. His car burst into flames with him in­side, leav­ing him with se­ri­ous in­juries. He was rushed to the in­ten­sive care unit of a lo­cal hos­pi­tal and was re­port­edly re­spond­ing well to treat­ment, but he suc­cumbed to his in­juries.

Mashau’s death comes as the feud be­tween me­tered taxis and Uber con­tin­ues over the le­gal­ity of the app-based ser­vice from hav­ing ve­hi­cles po­si­tioned across the city and prov­ince to trans­port pas­sen­gers.

The com­plaint by taxi cab driv­ers about Uber misses some­thing more im­por­tant than what has been re­vealed.

The gov­ern­ment’s re­sponse to the is­sue also misses the real point about this eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. Uber sig­nals some­thing big­ger than just a sin­gle com­pany en­try to mar­ket, it re­flects a shift in the way the global econ­omy is or­gan­ised.

There’s a cre­ation of new mar­ket­place that is tak­ing place. It’s not just Uber, it’s the econ­omy – the emer­gence of the plat­form econ­omy. Com­pa­nies that com­bine the char­ac­ter­is­tics of firms and mar­kets – known as plat­form com­pa­nies are re­plac­ing the old econ­omy.

An Uber for ev­ery­thing

There’s now an Uber for ev­ery­thing, there’s an Uber for Ho­tels (Airbnb), Ed­u­ca­tion (Udemy) and Clean­ing (Sweep­South).

Re­sis­tance to these eco­nomic de­vel­op­ments by in­dus­try play­ers and gov­ern­ments is not an ideal re­sponse. There’s a need to adapt to the change that is tak­ing place in­stead of throw­ing a protest and rule book to change.

A part­ner­ship be­tween tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies to­gether with prod­uct de­vel­op­ers and ser­vice providers needs to emerge to re­spond to any form of threats to these in­dus­tries. Taxi cabs, health providers and others need to form an al­liance with tech­nol­o­gists to de­velop their own so­lu­tions or re­sponse to tech­no­log­i­cal de­vel­op­ments pre­sented to them.

Gov­ern­ments and law mak­ers need to get a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of tech­nol­ogy trends and align them­selves with changes and stop to stand in the way of change with old rules for new economies.

In De­cem­ber, the Paris City Coun­cil in France de­cided to make it manda­tory for peo­ple rent­ing their flats on short-term web­sites such as Airbnb to reg­is­ter their prop­erty. This was just an­other re­ac­tionary ap­proach to leg­is­late this emerg­ing econ­omy. In South Africa, it has re­cently been re­ported that Fed­er­ated Hos­pi­tal­ity As­so­ci­a­tion of South Africa (Fed­hasa) has called on the gov­ern­ment to in­ter­vene to en­sure Airbnb be­comes in­dus­try-com­pli­ant and reg­u­lated.

Short-term stays

Airbnb is an on­line book­ing plat­form that en­ables home­own­ers to rent space in their homes to guests for short-term stays. The con­cept has grown in pop­u­lar­ity as trav­ellers seek cost-ef­fec­tive al­ter­na­tives to ho­tels.

Fed­hasa has raised the is­sue of com­pli­ance as the bone of con­tention. They have high­lighted lack of com­pli­ance with the South African Liquour Act as one of their ma­jor con­cern. They have in­di­cated that fail­ure to ver­ify com­pli­ance with the South African Liquor Act cre­ates a sit­u­a­tion that al­lows an in­for­mal renter to sup­ply a com­pli­men­tary bot­tle of wine, which, light as it may seem, can un­fairly tip the scales in Airbnb’s favour.

To­day it’s Uber in the taxi cab in­dus­try; in the ho­tel in­dus­try it’s Airbnb; to­mor­row it will be doc­tors and an­other app com­pany. Are med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als, health in­dus­try and min­istries ready?

There’s a need to plan for the emer­gence of the plat­form econ­omy to avoid un­nec­es­sary con­flicts. As part of The In­fonomist work in shar­ing im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion us­ing data, pos­si­ble in­dus­tries to be im­pacted by tech­nol­ogy will be doc­u­mented. This will al­low plan­ners and leg­is­la­tors to be aware of fu­ture dis­rup­tions in the econ­omy and de­velop laws in line with the fu­ture.

Wes­ley Diphoko is the head of In­de­pen­dent Me­dia’s Dig­i­tal Lab.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.