A great article in the New York Times this weekend reported on the enormous rise of the “sharing economy” and the impact that its applications are having on workers around the country.

By now you’ve heard of some of these applications: There’s Uber and Lyft and Sidecar where people can share their cars to provide rides. There’s Airbnb (sharing rooms), TaskRabbit (sharing tasks), Fiverr (sharing services), Postmates and Favor (sharing couriers) as well as Instacart (sharing grocery deliveries). The sharing economy is real and growing.

But there’s another sharing economy that’s not yet getting the same kind of attention. But it will. Because this sharing economy is going to change the world. It’s not cars or tasks or rooms or groceries. It’s data. Today’s cloud based software companies are building enormous troves of data. And the smarter ones are doing this because they see the future. And their future is sharing.

Your location is being tracked. Your purchase history is being stored. Your user profile has been collected. You are prompted to save your passwords. You are asked to confirm your personal details. You must submit an email address. You are required to provide your mother’s maiden name. Every hour more bits of data about you are being gathered, stored, categorized, and archived.

For the forward thinking software service, it’s not just about user licenses. It’s not just about selling boxes or books or tablets or shoes. It’s not merely a mobile app that lets you just buy concert tickets, listen to music or take a note. It’s about the data that’s being collected. It’s why Facebook purchased What’sApp or why Amazon recently announced it was going into the mobile payments business to compete with the likes of Square and PayPal. The current fees from these services are not what’s important. In the long term, the data is what’s important.

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