Group buying is becoming more and more popular today. It’s about a large number of buyers who aggregate to make a purchase of great amounts of products or services, so they can get them (often directly from Producers) at significantly reduced prices. This is also known as collective buying (in Italian, Gruppi di Acqusito Solidali).
They say that the diffusion of group buying is simply a consequence of the crisis. Well, that might surely be true, but I would add that this is a very concrete sign that economy is changing thanks to technology progresses towards new more sustainable models, emerging from the bottom. Plenty of web sites are offering group buying services, combined with social networking tools. That’s a way how the Internet in the hands of millions of people can change radically the economy. So, I like more to see this phenomenon as the use of collective intelligence in buying products or services, a collective intelligence which is enabled by the web2.0.
In a sentence, it’s about collective intelligence (of millions of Users) using the collective information (emerging from the Internet).
Group buying has already reached not only products but also a lot of services, for example energy services allowing the consumers joining the communities to save on the electricity bills. And for Producers or Providers this is seen often as a way to recover lost margins through extra volumes. Imagine tomorrow large groups buying negotiating with Network and Service Provider for the purchase of virtual networks, functions and services.
I believe that the technology advances (e.g. standard h/w performance, embedded communications, device miniaturization, etc.) and the costs reductions are enabling this “economy of collective intelligence”: an incredible amount of processing, storage, communications-networking capabilities are accumulating at the edge of traditional networks, i.e., very close to the end Users. The edge is likely to become like a Data Centre fabric ! As a matter of fact, models such as SDN and NFV are steps towards networks where all L3-L7 functions and service will be developed in software, virtualized and eventually decoupled from underneath hardware.
This is coming change of paradigm: I think it’s just a matter of “when” not “if”: it will be when software networks performance will be good enough (according perhaps to new QoS models in the upper layers) to meet Users’ need and application performance requirements. This “softwarization” is lowering the entry threashold of many other Providers, thus increasing competition and opening the huge impact of “collective intelligence” also in the Telco-ICT ecosystems. Eventually, in contrast to today, incentives, cooperation and competition will boost the long-term value of the network: this is just like in ecosystems, where evolution select the winning species, while losing species will fade away. It’s collective intelligence optimizing the economy of the ecosystem.
I’m sure that Operators and Providers capable of riding this industrial r-evolution (for example, by exploiting these “virtual fabrics” at the edge, operated with very lightweight management processes and capable of supporting these new fast and dynamical transactions) will be able to take huge biz benefits.
We are presenting this vision (Manifesto of Edge ICT Fabric), with a number of Partners, at the Conference ICIN2013.