Uber from Consumer Disruptor to Consumer Disaster (and it didn’t take long)!

One word I detest in my world of marketing is the word “digital disruption”, exactly what does that mean? What the mobile phone all of a sudden wakes up and changes your world? It’s like saying guns kill, when in fact it’s people that kill!

So in the world of “consumer disruption” (the actual “geek” word every digital expert is meaning to say), there can be no one more disruptive than Uber and Lyft et.al! Within a very short period Uber created a consumer experience, that connected with the consumer, an easy to use mobile driven experience to get us from A to B from almost anywhere, the world’s largest taxi company that owns no taxis . . . I could go on.

So, what went wrong?

In the initial days, it was a great consumer experience. Open an app, enter your location and destination and within a fairly quick moment, there was a car waiting for you.

Now generally, it was a great consumer experience, you knew what you were paying for, the driver was usually an interesting person doing another job, the car was perfection, water-bottles, phone chargers, massive amounts of leg space and well enough groomed to be able to eat your lunch off the seats. All in all – a “great consumer experience”, that you thought was built around you, it just worked!

But, as all strategically and greed led aggressive growth strategies go, they have let go of their differentiator, the “consumer experience.”

You see, there’s nothing new, innovative or differentiating about Uber, lots of other “venture” money realized that it’s not that difficult to build a competitive set (when you don’t own anything but an app and the ability to employ anyone)!

So where does this leave Uber?

In Chicago (where I live), they are a total disaster, the cars are dirty, beaten up, clueless drivers are mesmerized by “Waze” leaving the common-sense of direction well at home. With the inaccuracies of the navigation downtown in Chicago and the hyper inflated “surge-pricing”, the whole concept becomes an inept, expensive waste of time, that just makes you angry!

So, will big-money win over consumer experience, will this “joke” of a concept finally float and repay some $’s to the speculators of nations bank-accounts. I think not!

But as Forbes pointed out recently, many of the top 500 companies of today will not exist by 2025, will Uber, be the Blockbuster of the “car-pool” world, or will it get it’s head out of it’s ass and realize that their consumers (experiences) are beginning not to give a crap about their business?

Lets wait and see, however in the meantime, I do hope that my “Ubereats” doesn’t take a wrong turn!

Treat your technology like your top-talent and you will be successful!

The above statement may sound simple, but in reality there is not much in common with the way we treat both in our organizations. I fundamentally believe the reason that most technologies don’t deliver the measured ROI, is because we see technology as a “necessary evil” instead of a “absolute for success.”

Organizations invest large amounts of capital in acquiring, developing, managing talent and similarly they do the same with technology, but why does it appear that we get more value over the longer term with our people than our technology? Well here are my insights to why and how to avoid some of the common pitfalls.

Top talent, make “the complex simple”, do the same with your technology. As an example emerging technologies like Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC) can simplify the complexities of your business by outsourcing not just the technology stack but much of the operational overhead of your business. So use it, start with a hybrid solution off/on-premise, then migrate, it will help your business become more effective and efficient and conserve valuable cash for other more important investments.

Top talent, are great “communicators and leaders” and inspire others to achieve. Do the same with your technology, get out of linear/closed technologies that don’t communicate the principles and culture of your business. In technology terms Social Enterprise technologies are the great communicators of business innovation, ideation, thought, competitive advantage and insights and they do it 24 hours a day and never leave. Social technologies are business technologies that improve communication, collaboration and breakdown internal political and geographical boundaries.

Top talent, need constant mentoring to be successful, so does your technology. Once you select a technology, don’t just leave it and expect it to change your world, it will not! Technology needs to be constantly reviewed, as when your business environment changes it will effect the performance of your business technology. Do not neglect your technology and make sure your technology leaders are capable business people (invite them into your strategy meetings) who can adapt and adopt technology for the future.

¬†Top talent is there to grow your business, so do the same with your biz. tech. Anyone can reduce technology costs, just don’t spend. So when looking at business technology look for the positive growth affects on your business first, because this is the real upside. Tech guys will talk about cost reduction and as technology innovation always reduces costs anyway, it’s not a game changer. Think of technology as a 24 hr business partner, leverage it, expose it and use it!

Be prepared to remove what you have just recruited if your top talent ¬†doesn’t work out. Biz Tech. is the same, so always have a fall back plan, make sure you have an equally capable “hot-swap” technology ready to hand, contracts in place, data migration in place, go-live business continuity strategy in place. So when the unforeseen happens (and it will), your business is covered. I am shocked how many times I see just one key technology hanging out there carrying far too much expectation on it’s shoulders. Remember in business you always have someone else you can promote, so think the same with your technology.

In the end your top talent will leave if you don’t progress. Stagnation, dead-ends, no new challenges and your top people will leave, the same can be said for your biz. tech. The business must have a keen eye on “what’s coming” from the vendor, new updates may assist us in leveraging what we have to increase performance, API’s and data extractions are key marks of software agility and maturity. Don’t be fooled into just the front-end (the interview) get under the technology to see what it’s really made of.

If your CEO is ignoring you it’s time to go. If you are reading this article and you cannot get your CEO to read it too. The writing is on the wall for you and your technologies future. If your CEO has scant regard for technology and doesn’t include a “technology assessment” around your business strategies, future and daily business, then you are doomed. Hit the restart button.

Successful Business Continuity is about “people and processes” not technology!

Don’t be surprised when technology goes wrong, because it’s developed and written by people, who by their nature are not perfect.

So when we have a catastrophic disaster in our business relating to technology, it’s the technology which is the last visual evidence of the failure of “the people and processes” within the business.

Good business continuity (BC) is a huge task in itself, it goes way beyond technology weakness, it involves all the processes and values of the business. How many businesses have a “business continuity strategy” around their key staff, what happens if a disaster takes your key people out, how do you react, what processes do you have in place, how quick will the succession be and how do you handle the corporate communications strategy?

We often look at technology being the disaster, it’s not, it’s the people. So if you are CEO looking at technology “business continuity” look much deeper into the critical support processes, procedures and people you need to have in place. Your CIO can be your technical guide, but Business Continuity is best served through external providers, because of scale, accessibility, location and time zones.

Remember when a business continuity plan kicks in, it is generally associated with chaos, so to provide good business continuity apply a little chaos to the key steps and plans in your process so that those involved in the process of recovery are familiar with the environment that they will find themselves in. This is like training for survival, “there is no point in learning to survive in a normal swimming pool, if in reality the water is so cold you will survive 3 minutes!”

Business continuity is an absolute critical element to strategic business technology and is critically important as we disperse more and more information across social silos. However, the likes of E&Y and providers like Sungard (amongst others) can help considerably, it is the onus of the c-level business executives to ensure that Business Continuity involves “people, processes and technology.”

So if you want to motivate your staff, here’s an idea, give them a disaster to handle in your business instead of sending them out on “outward bound or personal development courses”, for a bit of fun get them to attack your business, prepare a cyber attack, or take a buildings power down, go on try it, you will learn much about your people, processes and technology way beyond what you ever imagined.

And you will also realize just how important continual strategic business continuity planning is to your business long term success.