Put Yourself In Your Customer's Shoes To Disrupt Your Own Business
Ever wonder what digital disruption looks like up close? Take a peek at the tourism industry in major cities around the world. Instead of staying with established hotel brands like Hilton and Starwood, consumers are finding lodging via homeshare sites like Airbnb, Homeaway, or 9flats.com. Roughly 120,000 people stayed in Airbnb-rented rooms in Brazil during the World Cup. Instead of hailing taxis on the street, people are Uber-ing cars or calling a cab right to them with the Hailo app on their mobile phones. And upstart rental car companies like RelayRides and Silvercar are slowly starting to siphon customers away from traditional airport rental facilities.
Hotels, taxis, and car rentals are all well-established industries. How have they been disrupted by these startups? Simple. They became complacent. And tradition-bound. Meaning they didn’t do enough of the things Uber, Airbnb, RelayRides, and their disruptive counterparts have done. Like embrace a digital strategy. Or make sure they had a laser focus on the customer experience. Or take advantage of the three biggest digital trends shaping the future: mobile, personalization, and data.
Uber was founded by entrepreneurs Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick, who never bothered to try to improve the taxi experience. Instead, they reimagined it. They reimagined the industry from scratch using today’s technology and digital know-how. That’s how they figured out that standing on a curb hoping a cab comes by makes no sense, when mobile technology could let you hail a driver on-demand just about anywhere anytime nearly instantly.
RelayRides, while a smaller player for now, has similarly reimagined the car rental industry – twice. Launched in 2010 as a peer-to-peer competitor to Zipcar, it first enabled people to rent their cars out by the hour when they weren’t using them, then pivoted to offer longer-duration rentals. Their pricing is lower than traditional car rental companies, but where RelayRides differentiates is around experience. With more than 800 makes and models in their online marketplace and greater convenience in pick-up locations, RelayRides offers a personalized, often easier alternative to the airport car rental centers we all know and don’t love - the long lines, the byzantine rental terms, and the “sorry, we only have a compact available!” selection.
That’s how innovators and disruptors create value. It’s how they upend entrenched industries and surprise incumbents. It’s how they unlock new ways to make money, drive topline growth, and become leaders, not laggards, in the marketplace.
The next time you’re thinking about how your company should leverage technology put yourself squarely in your customer’s or your user’s shoes. Identify what you don’t like about the way your business meets customer needs and figure out how you can change the game by delivering a better experience, by creating a more powerful solution. Drive the disruption yourself before you become disrupted target for the disruptors. After all it’s much easier to lead when you aren’t focused on playing catch up against the new upstarts in your market.
This is the first in a series of three videos in which I explain how companies can win in the ever-evolving digital race.
Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.
- Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
- At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
- Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?
- Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
- The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
- If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
Research has shown that men today have less testosterone than they used to. What's happening?
- Several studies have confirmed that testosterone counts in men are lower than what they used to be just a few decades ago.
- While most men still have perfectly healthy testosterone levels, its reduction puts men at risk for many negative health outcomes.
- The cause of this drop in testosterone isn't entirely clear, but evidence suggests that it is a multifaceted result of modern, industrialized life.
Michael Dowling, Northwell Health's CEO, believes we're entering the age of smart medicine.
- The United States health care system has much room for improvement, and big tech may be laying the foundation for those improvements.
- Technological progress in medicine is coming from two fronts: medical technology and information technology.
- As information technology develops, patients will become active participants in their health care, and value-based care may become a reality.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.