Uberisation of business and taxisation of customer relations
Uberization is the word of the year 2015, and given recent events, it is not about to fall into disuse. If we can thank Maurice Levy for allowing the debate to arise through this linguistic innovation, the latter only imperfectly reflects the situation.
Uberization is the consequence, not the cause
The term “to be uberized” would imply a kind of attack from the outside when it is often not the case. Uber has not uberized anyone: it saw an unmet demand, a space and rushed into it. There is a difference between taking a fortress by force and re-entering it because the gates are open and a sign, “come in and help yourself”, stands at the entrance. These are the former leaders who uberized themselves by neglecting the reality of customer demand. If they had done their job nothing would have happened. Moreover, the bitter failure that Uber experienced in Japan shows that when the players in place operate in line with customer expectations, there is no space for new entrants.
Then uberization is not a uniform phenomenon and does not come only from start-ups. Finally, uberization is not inevitable: a traditional actor can “disuberise”.
So if Maurice Levy correctly named the symptom, he did not name the disease or the causes.
The disease has two causes: one internal, the other external to the company. One relating to its own functioning, the other with regard to its customers.
Kodakization or the refusal to exploit an asset
A business may have all the elements in hand to be successful but refuse to exploit them. This is the example of Kodak througha logic that Manuel Diaz called Kodakisation. Kodak did not miss the digital revolution: it was among the first to develop digital cameras and, moreover, quality products. Kodak failed on two points: fully playing the digital camera card required a real change of business model (films + development vs memory cards) and the development of a new distribution network to replace the current one. . And Kodak dared neither.
We know what we’re leaving, we don’t know what we’re going to find. Kodak thus decided to stay in his comfort zone instead of starting a crossing and burning his boat with no hope of returning. We know what happened to it. But contrary to popular belief, Kodak did see digital technology but did not dare to follow through on what it meant. Ditto for Sony besides which sank in front of the duo iPod + iTunes not because of a lack of innovation, not because they did not have the products but by refusal to endanger its traditional product lines to combine them in a new offer with a new economic model.
Taxization or the illusion of the preeminence of supply over demand
The second major disease is called Taxization and the comedy that is playing out before our eyes in France is the best example (hence its name). What makes an Uber different from a G7? Absolutely nothing insurmountable. Absolutely nothing that is not copiable, duplicable. Apart from one thing: the vision of the market.
On the one hand, we have a customer-oriented approach: there is a market of people who want to travel like that and we address it. On the other hand, a product-oriented vision: we have a product that has had its heyday and we will continue to impose it this way even if the customer asks for something else.
Taxization is a policy of supply which says that the customer must do with what is offered and that he has no say, as opposed to a policy of demand which aligns supply with market demand. The taxization of business and customer relations is to believe that the mediocrity of an offer formerly up to date but now outdated, can be set up as a model in a legitimate way, provided that the appropriate barriers to entry are put.
The strategy is not guided by the fact of gaining a competitive advantage in terms of customer experience but rather of not changing anything and leveling the offer at the bottom.
Uberisation = lack of courage + contempt for the customer
Uberization therefore has two root causes: lack of courage and contempt for the client. It will not be avoided by technology but by new behaviors and new corporate cultures.
Bertrand Duperrin is Digital Transformation Practice Leader in Emakina. He was previously Consulting Director at Nextmodernity, a firm in the field of business transformation and management through social business and the use of social technologies.
He regularly deals with social media news on his blog.