Nowadays, apartments, cars, shared rides as well as products and services of various types are rented, traded, gifted, or sold between private persons (peer to peer) via Internet platforms. While some people expect the sharing economy to be a global mega trend in which resources are preserved and interpersonal relationships are turned into (economical) capital, others describe the sharing economy as a mere transmission of the “flea market principle” into the age of information and mobile technology, in which prices rule. Besides many obvious benefits of the sharing economy, social risks (e.g., the creation of precarious working conditions, circumvention of sovereign regulation, and commercialization of formerly social actions) need to be considered. The term "sharing economy" itself is already misleading as most successful concepts and markets mainly deal with selling and renting. On such peer-to-peer platforms, trust between users is an essential aspect. Our research team analyses offers, concepts, mechanisms, challenges, and current developments in the sharing economy from a theoretical and practical point of view, by means of models, empirical data analyses, surveys, and economic experiments.
Crowdworking, crowdsourcing and crowdfunding are concepts, which have gained in importance in recent years due to the development of the Internet and which will become even more important in the future. All concepts share that Internet users participate in the creation of projects, either through paid workforce (crowdworking), unpaid workforce (crowdsourcing, e.g. Wikipedia) or through investments (crowdfunding). Crowdworking is known from platforms such as Amazon Mechanical Turk (AMT), Clickworker or Task Rabbit, on which thousands of people worldwide accomplish so-called micro tasks for low wages. Providers as for example Streetspotr apply this principle to mobile devices. Other platforms such as InnoCentive or 99designs specifically contact creative people which compete against each other with design-ideas to get the contract for a project. Indeed, well-structured and separable tasks can be accomplished cost-effectively, fast and with high quality through crowdworking platforms. In the area of crowdfunding, we both examine platforms in which it is about to supply interest-free micro loans (e.g. KIVA) and platforms on which investors either receive interests or rewards (e.g. kickstarter). A reward could for example be that one's name is listed in the credits of a movie. Our research team investigates the cohesion between the factors motivation, achieved quality, users' risk aversion, and decision-making processes as well as the design of platforms and processes itself.
The energy revolution covers the social and technological change in shaping the future energy system. Decentralized electricity production (based on photovoltaic, wind power and biomass) and e-mobility become increasingly important. Appropriate organizational, economical, and technical solutions, are required for a successful decentralization of the energy system. Local, energy markets are an implementation of successful decentralization.
The Internet of things (IoT) arises from digitization and the technological interconnectedness which enables the management and controllability of complex systems and structures (Industry 4.0). Industry 4.0 is characterized not only by individualization and hybridization of products but also by the integration of customers and business partners in the business processes. Embedded systems as well as (semi-)autonomous machines, moving around in their environments without human control and making individual decisions, only represent the tip of the iceberg. Blockchain technology provides a new way to manage such systems without the need for a trusted central integration point. For a wide range of applications, digitization, the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 enable an evolutionary improvement and automation of business and production processes and therefore an increase in efficiency.
The blockchain is a distributed ledger that enables the storage of a tamper-free and non-reversible data record and provides a way to reach a consensus on the order of the stored data between agents with conflicting interests. The data is time-stamped and structured in interconnected blocks which, can contain either raw data or sophisticated computer programs, called smart contracts. Since its introduction in 2008, the concept emerged from its use as a verification mechanism for cryptocurrencies and now heads to a broader field of economic and market-based applications. In total, blockchain solutions enable new forms of decentralized markets and distributed software architectures, that allow conflicting market participants, components, or subsystems to find an agreement on a shared state of the system without the need for a trusted central party or institution. In addition, smart contracts facilitate the execution of complex computer programs operating on a distributed world computer. In the context of financial markets, visions of decentralized stock markets or clearing and settlement of securities transactions without the involvement of a central counterparty call disruptive changes and challenge the prevalent structure of financial markets. Other potential applications of distributed ledger technologies are digital currencies, digital records of ownership, decentralized market platforms, as well as digital proof of identity and recommender systems.
Data science deals with the extraction of knowledge from data. Therefore, methods from statistics, machine learning, information theory, visualization, artificial intelligence, and further disciplines are used. The objective is to create predictive models which are able to illustrate interdependences with a high prediction accuracy. In addition to the modeling of interdependences, concrete recommendations for actions should be provided.
User experience describes the total experience persons gain while interacting with products and services. Our research takes a broader view on this term and additionally considers changes in the user experience caused by market regulations. Mostly, the term user experience is used in the area of human-machine interactions, especially when people interact with websites or applications. User experience goes beyond user acceptance which refers to perceived utility and user friendliness and therefore only concentrates on cognitive experiences. In contrast, user experience also covers feelings such as happiness and frustration or reactions as for example trust or the creation of a 'flow'. Such facets of user experience can be examined using methods from the area of neurological information systems (Neuro-IS), as for instance by measuring neurophysiological parameters and eye movements with eye-tracking systems.