When it comes to innovation, business success is historically borne from providing a fix for a need or improving on a current solution. Rarely does a company dominate and disrupt a long-established market in the blink of an eye but in 2010 that is exactly what tech company Uber did.
Since their launch in San Francisco in 2010, Uber has changed the landscape for the way business owners think about service-based operations. The perfect marriage of convenience and technology, Uber has spliced age old transportation trends with edgy accessibility to come out on top in less than a decade.
How Uber became uber successful!
Cutting the cost to the consumer was just part of the equation that saw millions of users hail Uber as the greatest service to ever hit the streets. The strongest advantage Uber had was in their approach to fixing a problem that the average person didn’t even know was a problem.
What Uber did was simplify a system that didn’t believe it needed to change. Their point of difference was understanding the modern consumer’s expectations for a market that had stagnated. The old system was oddly skewed in the favour of the supplier rather than the demander and focusing on this particular issue has allowed Uber to change the landscape forever.
Before Uber, catching a cab went a little something like this:
Depending on your city, you either hailed a cab (hoping they stop), called a local company you knew or, if in a bar or unfamiliar place, asked someone else to call one for you. Now here’s where the power imbalance occurred; if the taxi company said the wait was 40 minutes then you waited 40 minutes (or wasted 20 searching for a quicker pickup). Paying for your ride with cash or Eftpos was the clumsy finale to the already laborious process.
Uber simplified the ordering process, removed the uncertainty of when the taxi would arrive, increased safety for users with driver names and car models, made it a cashless service and created a single, global app. And in doing so they created a user-friendly service that we were all desperate for, despite not knowing it!
How it is changing us
Taxi industry aside, Uber has also had an impact on the wider economy. During their inception Uber looked at two problems in underutilised assets and ease of access to the traditional taxi service and sought to apply a thoroughly modern solution.
Uber created software that fixed the latter problem and engaged car-owners looking to become sole traders to address the former – thus causing a huge boom in the supply and demand of gig economy style jobs.
The effect of ‘Uberisation’ is two-fold. Firstly, it has increased people’s appetite for the sharing economy as an alternative to traditional markets; ironically this style is becoming quite mainstream. Secondly, it normalised the idea of working as and hiring freelancers.
Now we have people in their millions using Airbnb instead of hotels, Uber instead of taxis, Airtaskering solo-preneurs earning big bucks plus hundreds of other sharing companies from parking spaces to grocery shopping dominating day to day solutions.
What it means for business
You might think traditional small businesses fear on-demand services that are changing the economy as they know it but enterprise thrives on change.
Many people have found that disruptors are more of a benefit than a threat as they find smart ways to increase the bottom line. Using gig contractors to reduce overheads or to cope with flux means that needs across the board are being met with efficiency and ease.
Businesses are now thinking about how they can disrupt their own markets and simplify their propositions to their customers so rather than being put out of business they become their industry’s Uber. And that shift in thinking will pay dividends as customers search for better consumer experiences.