A killer app does not save the taxi company Uber


2015-08-05, 08:00 Posted by: Timo Oksa, Business Unit Director

NO BUSINESS CAN TAKE OFF with a killer app alone, not even taxi company Uber, which was landing in Finland last year.

The application only takes the business forward if it is backed with an idea of a service that the application supports and improves – making the service experience better or saving time, for instance.

In the cases of Uber and another ride service, Lyft, the operators were motivated by a will to respond to an existing need in a new format: people must be taken from one place to another when they want it and in a manner that is easy for them. That is, customers are served in their terms, not on the service provider's terms, and the service is supported with suitable technology.

This entails bringing an adaptable way of thinking to the everyday life of people and organisations with the help of technology.

Digitisation is not just about inventing new things, but finding new purposes and seeing existing needs and processes from a new perspective. It is all based on people who make others think about things in a fresh way. They are punk rockers walking their own path, which we could take some advice from (regardless of how the Eurovision song contest turns out).

WE ARE SPENDING TOO MUCH TIME thinking about the word digitisation. The Finnish mentality emphasises analysing concepts and attempting to find an absolute and socially correct meaning and purpose for them.

Without a precise definition, it seems difficult to start work on anything.

After having defined our digitisation strategy with great effort, it can be documented in the format "replacing our outdated customer relationship management system with a new and more versatile solution that enables us to communicate more efficiently with our customers and answer their needs".

That sounds a bit like Scott Adams's Dilbert, doesn't it? When we are focusing on the properties of the application, we are also focusing on our own problem and forgetting the customer.

As a word, 'digitisation' does not take us anywhere, but if it makes us re-think about our ways of working with our stakeholders, the first step has been taken.

As odd as it may appear, technology needs to be initially set aside in the digitisation process and the focus must be on what we can and want to do otherwise when developing our operations for the benefit of our customers. Only after this has been thought through should we start planning a solution for implementing our idea.

THINKING ABOUT BIG ISSUES IS EXHAUSTING. Seeing and implementing a new way of operating is like creating a new start-up inside your organisation.

It must be built and, in particular, thought of as a separate business that is independent and disconnected from other operations. This makes it easier to see that there is nothing big and complicated about digitisation; it is small, simple and fast.

If you are harbouring an idea that a strong step towards digitisation is implementing a new application for a service that you already have, think again.

Do not turn digitisation into an application. Adapt to the environment, but do not submit to the conditions.

Do not submit, but adapt.


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