How to Keep Your Business from Being Uberized

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Are you afraid of being Uberized? You should be.

Uber, Airbnb and Lyft aren’t just the poster children for the Sharing Economy; they represent the continuation of a truth that is as old as civilization: active thinking about how to leverage technology to disrupt your industry.

This isn’t the first round of disruptors. Amazon changed the book industry. Netflix revolutionized the video industry. If you want to extend the examples, the telegraph destroyed the Pony Express industry.

This time it is different, however. The disruptive companies of today are transforming from an idea existing on the bleeding-edge fringe into the mainstream at record speed. Uber, for example, has grown from a single location to providing service to 300 cities worldwide in six short years.

What This Means for You

The exponential growth of computing power has created an environment of unbridled possibilities. The question isn’t IF your business and profession will experience dramatic change, but WHEN.

If it can be transformed, it will. Today it is entertainment, taxis, hotel rooms and retail. Transportation and trucking will not be far behind thanks to driverless automobiles, robotic delivery capabilities and drones. It is not a leap to imagine accounting, law and medicine Uberized to put the right person in the right place at the right time. Routine jobs performed by robots are not far off. Nanotechnology will eventually repair the plumbing in your home and your body without any human involvement.

Here’s How You Win

Sadly, many of the businesses and occupations accepted as relevant today won’t exist in the future. There are no guarantees, but you can take action today to increase your chances of succeeding tomorrow. Here are four ideas to adopt now.

  1. Re-think how you acquire and deploy technology. Are your technology decisions based on what you need today or with an eye toward what could be possible tomorrow? Is technology a cost to be managed or an investment to be leveraged and exploited? Are you locking yourself in to applications that will limit your opportunities or those that provide the highest degree of flexibility? This should be obvious, but start-up disruptors aren’t using outdated technology. They are developing and deploying based on what’s new and what’s next to give them an advantage. You should do the same by fully integrating technology into every business decision. It also means being relentless in your search for new ways to leverage every dollar you spend.
  2. Leverage your advantage. You have what every disruptor wants – customers. Do they love you so much that they are selling for you? Are you engaging them in on-going conversation about what would make them more successful? The competitor coming after your industry will serve customers in ways that you haven’t yet recognized. Learning from complaints is the minimum. You must go further to turn good customers into partners who will provide ideas about what they need in the future.
  3. Give yourself time to think and explore. The idea that will disrupt your industry came into being because an individual or team invested the time to think and explore. Unfortunately, you are so busy working in your business that you aren’t devoting the time and resources to think strategically about your business. Keeping up with today’s demands makes exploring the future a luxury you don’t believe you can afford. It isn’t a luxury, however. It is a business necessity to ensure your long-term viability.
  4. Create a culture that loves change and seeks to disrupt. The best way to keep from being Uberized is to be the disruptor in your industry. You can add love for innovation and continual improvement to the culture of service, accountability, and execution you have worked so hard to build. Balancing the freedom required for innovation with the discipline you need for consistent execution can be challenging, but it is not impossible. It requires intentional effort to create and sustain the new habits you need to discover the future while executing today.

The present should be guided more by the future than the past, and your future is destined to include a heavy dose of disruption and change. What are you doing today to ensure your success tomorrow?

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