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Much of the free market and capitalism as we know it have been based on the model of competition. But as a new economy emerges from the abundance of 1’s and 0’s we use to create this new, digital world, a new model of collaboration is on the rise. The way corporations work with the government, the way customers work with companies, and the way entrepreneurs are working together are all taking on new methods to find the win/win outcomes of collaboration over the win/lose methodology of old-school competition.

For example: Although Apple wasn’t necessarily willing to collaborate with the FBI when the feds asked for help in getting information from a suspected terrorist’s iPhone, the Department of Homeland Security is starting to work more closely with other corporations to create a more secure Internet. Based on a law passed last year, the DHS has started to share cyberthreats with private businesses and other government agencies in hopes of decreasing digital threats for all.

As the Internet has democratized communication and access to information, consumers are growing much more savvy, and businesses are less likely to reach them by talking at them. As Brandon Evans wrote for Fast Company, in order to reach today’s consumers, businesses must speak with them, collaborating on their product or service and how it will be provided.

Now that consumers are using what Clay Shirky calls “cognitive surplus” to create more than 80% of the content on the Internet, the nature of the conversation between brand and consumer is changing drastically. Given their power to create videos, write reviews, comment, share, and build networks of influence, consumers are now viable partners for brands looking to the future of marketing.

Gone are the days when brands can simply screen commercials and put up billboards telling consumers what they should purchase. Brands must now compete with crowdfunders’ expansive followings and instant distribution, and a market pool now fashioned with their own 3D printers that can make whatever brands don’t provide. These days, consumers are aware that if brands don’t meet them where they are with what they want, it can be found somewhere else. Now there seems to be plenty of businesses and brands who are looking to collaborate on delivering what consumers want next.

Of course, as more commerce takes place online and more digital infrastructure is created, entrepreneurs are finding they don’t face the same limitations of the brick-and-mortar market, opening up a greater ability to collaborate instead of competing for the crumbs of yesteryear. As I wrote last month, in a digital age where inbound marketing is a critical component to success—in the new economy where consumers have choice, content is king, curation cures information overload, and convergence is revolutionizing human communication—collaboration is key.

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