Does your business need to be Uberfied?

February 2, 2017

 

david darmstandler

David Darmstandler

Time has an exasperating tendency to change things. One day you’re something, and then 10 years later – bam – that something is completely different.  And in all likelihood, that something is a little less toned, a little less firm and a whole lot plumper.

But time doesn’t just change people; it changes how we do business, too. How people interact, work, eat, commute— it will continue to change until life itself is over. If there’s one thing to credit for all this perpetual change, it would have to be technology.

Technology changes everything, usually for the better, often without any conscious recognition, and typically with a buildup. It’s not as if the transition from poorly lit caves to data-infused smart homes occurred overnight or that the leap from horse-drawn carriages to a Tesla Model S was a change most could predict.

Changes are accepted by society, then gradually become the norm.  That integration is so gradual, people don’t even realize what’s happening or that they even accepted it to begin with.

However, this might not always be the case. With the rise of the Gig Economy and the introduction of millennials into the workforce, the “Uberfication” of life as we know it has begun. Not only are we recognizing this shift in how society does things as it’s occurring, it’s not as gradual as we’re accustomed to.

With Uberfication, many companies have started to think more like the ride hailing company Uber. Thus, society is starting to do things differently — from how we make and spend money to the way we manage our work and personal lives.

Thinking more like Uber means that to own a successful transportation company, you don’t need to own any cars.  To have a flourishing culture, you don’t really need employees.  And to have a big enterprise, you don’t need a physical business.

For example, Airbnb owns no property, but it’s quickly becoming one of the most popular sources to rent a place while traveling. And Etsy doesn’t make any products, but it’s overflowing with unique, handcrafted items.

People don’t like these companies just because they can make extra money from them; they also like them because their platforms allow for lower costs, less hassle and on-demand services.  For instance, Uber has cut down on both the wait times and the cost of a traditional taxi.

But what about a run-of-the-mill business that isn’t looking to Uberify its dental practice, law firm or coffee shop? Here is what you can learn from the sensational leap that companies like Uber and Airbnb have made:

Don’t fight it

Never fight the way technology is going. Don’t try to sidestep it or delay your acceptance of it. The longer you avoid new technologies, the further behind your business will be —behind the times, behind the competition and behind the needs of consumers.

Find a good outlet

These companies know the business world well. They also know technology. They’ve each created an international business that operates within one central app or website without hiring a single person to produce the actual product.

While your business might not have the capital to hire internal IT people or the need to build your business around one central technology, it is still important to partner with people who know technology.

Keep up with it

Technology is not stagnant.  It never will be done changing. So, part of your job is to make sure your business never falls too far behind innovations.  You can look at this negatively: that your business will always have to change to compensate for new technologies.  Or you can look at this positively: that your business will always have the opportunity to change into something better, bigger and more valuable.

David Darmstandler is CEO of Datapath, an IT services company with headquarters in Modesto. You can reach him at david@mydatapath.com.

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