At Christmas time every year we hold an Optimum staff party and enjoy a night of drinks, team achievements, dinner and dancing – partners included. Just before the clock struck 12 at our event last year, we decided to head off and hopefully catch a pumpkin (yellow cab) home. One hour, three phone calls, a walk in the rain and queuing in a taxi rank later, we were still waiting. And then we came up with a solution – UBER! Both my partner and I were relatively new to the concept and figured we’d jump onto the App and see what was available. Less than five minutes and we were on our way home, provided with cold bottled water, Minties, a fresh towel and a personable driver by the name of Steve.
Since that night we were converts; using Uber over the Christmas break and late nights was a breeze – Uber provides a service that is affordable, transparent, quick and simple. We regularly ask our personal drivers how they have found working for the San Francisco-based company and they offer glowing reviews; the hours, the pay, the interesting people they meet, the security and the simplicity of it all. However, the one area that continuously gives them grief is understandably, the taxi-drivers. Instead of considering Uber a relief during busy periods (rewind to our Christmas Party and a wait on a standard taxi was well over an hour), the private-driver steered company is treated as unfair competition and illegal by both the taxi industry and State Governments, despite Uber denying that they are breaking any laws. To quote one of our personal drivers “they’re just angry because they didn’t think of this concept first”; Uber saw the importance of staying relevant and unlike taxi companies who hold monopolies throughout the country, they adapted to the constantly moving technology (the App) and provided a service that was cheap and easy.
Over the years we have witnessed the extinction of significant businesses like Kodak, HMV and Borders bookstores, and what do these three collapses have in common? Technology – Kodak with digital photography, HMV with online music platforms like iTunes, Spotify and SoundCloud, and Borders with the rise of e-book readers. In some instances, evolving with and embracing technology can improve the bottom line, like in the case of large organisations like Flight Centre and IBM who have adapted to the low (but ethical) cost of the remote workforce model which utilises technology to keep track of work hours and communicate efficiently.
Despite there still being a niche for film photography, vinyl records and more obviously paper books, and while not all businesses are largely affected by technology in the same way these three services were, the unprecedented accelerated changes in technology shouldn’t be overlooked when running a business. There are a couple of things you can take into account to ensure your business evolves and remains relevant:
Know your market. Stay ahead of the curve and read about developments in your industry. Allow your employees the opportunity to offer personal perspectives on the business and keep your mind open to new ideas.
Listen to the needs of your clients and customers – both internal and external. They are the basis of your brand and moving forward, can grant you the upper hand in your industry; after all, they engage your services.
And finally, Innovate/Adapt
Don’t try and reinvent the wheel, stick to what you know and apply what you have learnt, constantly improving on and delivering an uncompromising level of quality.
Believing in your brand, its capability and making the conscious effort to improve and not become complacent can prevent a “why didn’t we think of that?!” disaster.
Bianca Jovicic – Corporate Services Co-ordinator