From Cambridge, Massachusetts to San Francisco, the Uber wars are underway. Riders love the app driven service, cabbies are screaming about the competition and tax evasion, cities are losing revenue, and public safety agencies are worried about riders. As a result, status quo constituents are throwing every rule in the book at Uber in the hopes of turning the clock back. How silly is that!
This is a lousy, wasteful, and unproductive reaction to innovation. Consider for a minute the wasted time and money being spent fighting what is inevitable. We are going to use our phone apps to find lodging and rides. That’s a given. The ability of the Internet to connect buyers to non-traditional providers is also a given. Pretending this is not the case is foolish.
So what should be happening?
- Taxis: Get with the program. If your taxis were as easy to book and as quick to respond as Uber drivers, there would be no Uber. As far as unfair competition and regulations go, I’ve got news for them. I pay more to ride with Uber, not less! Uber is expensive. Uber is about convenience and speed, not saving money.
- Regulators: Reexamine your mission. You can’t protect everyone from their choices. You can establish new safeguard mechanisms. You can inform the public. But you must be able to embrace change. Don’t waste your resources on maintaining the status quo. Innovate instead!
- Cities: You too must get with the program. Physical boundaries aren’t what they used to be. The fight over whether Amazon should collect sales taxes is no longer a new concept. You must reexamine the nature of what and how you tax business. You must innovate!
- Are you in denial about the change that is happening around you?
- Are you ignoring the shifts in your customers’ expectations whether those involve speed, convenience, quality, or sustainability?
- Are you relying on regulations and politicians to sustain your business?
- Are you so trapped by your current business model that you can’t imagine the app that will steal your customers overnight?
I hope not. But now would be a really good time to take a step back and ponder these questions and the change swirling around you. Talk to your customers and employees. Shop your own shop. Tune in to the customer experience. Find out what apps are capturing their attention. Increase your awareness of the doors technology is opening. If you don’t, you’ll be next the guy screaming about unfair advantages while your business evaporates.