Pay for use, not for ownership. That’s a trend we have seen happening over the last years in virtually any industry. Last year, we gave a presentation at the Service Design Drinks Mexico, that covers this topic to some extent. ‘servitized products‘ and ‘productized services‘ are often heard credos in the innovation industry, hinting to the fact that organizations understand they need to be relevant and catering to the right user needs.

The 1% drill

Owning a drill is great but on average it gets used less than 1% of the time. And what is the actual need behind it? Being the owner of a drill? Or getting a whole in the wall? We would guess it’s the latter. As such, the actual ownership is not important, it’s about the usage. Boeing is not selling engines, it’s selling ‘flight hours’. Philips is not selling lighting, but ‘connected offices’. Peerby is a service that lets people exchange tools, when and where they are needed. Customers want their pain to be taken away (whatever that may be), ownership is not the primary necessity to accomplish that.

That brings us to this great article about an Amish man starting an ‘horse Uber’. This man too, understands that it’s not about owning the actual horse, but about moving people from A to B. Whether that transport means is a car, bike, train or boat, doesn’t matter. Even a horse can get you to your destination. With the advancement of technology and Silicon Valley dominating our lives, it’s refreshing to see that in a non-techy world (and I think the Amish are the definition of that), pay for use vs pay for ownership finds its way in local society.

What can we learn from this?

It’s simple: throughout many layers of society and technological advancements, customer centricity becomes increasingly important and companies start realizing that ‘being the proud owner of X’, is not sufficient anymore. Solving the problem at hand, i.e. ‘fixing the need’, is what matters. And for this, ownership is of less importance than valuable, affordable and contextual action.