Business has always been driven by innovation and providing new solutions to old problems. However, in the last few years, this concept has been pushed even further. With the rise in Internet technology, social media, and the start-up culture, it is no longer enough to just have a good idea. To really stand out, a business should challenge an existing industry – turn an old business model on its head.
Mobile technology has played a big part in driving much of the change, with new apps popping up in every industry – from takeaways to car boot sales. Out of all of these, the most disruptive app to emerge in the last few years is undoubtedly Uber. In its eight years of operating, Uber has seen debates about its safety and the effect its services have on existing taxi providers (particularly London’s Black Cab service), but none of that has stopped the company from amassing an estimated global net worth of more than $60 billion.
More than just helping millions of people get from A to B quickly and easily
The benefits of Uber model go beyond just helping millions of people get from A to B quickly and easily. While there is no shortage of articles written about the company’s growing success, many people still don’t understand Uber’s innovative business model. The company does not own any cars or employ any drivers directly. All it does is give drivers who register with the service access to passengers through its app. It has also given ordinary people with a driving license an income opportunity, and shown that a business can build itself up globally with very little initial investment, which has not only led to the creation of similar companies, like Kabbee and Gett, but also invited innovation in other markets, such as the meteoric rise of another disruptive business – Airbnb.
Where travelers and people with a ‘spare room’ meet
Airbnb was born in 2007 when three San-Francisco entrepreneurs came up with the brilliantly simple idea of building a website that matches travelers looking for accommodation with people who have a spare room to rent out. Fast forward a decade, and Airbnb has completely transformed the way people travel. Also no stranger to controversy, Airbnb has often been blamed for creating a shortage in the rental market and pushing up prices for long-term rentals. However, it has also helped millions of people around the world find affordable accommodation in cities like New York and Washington, where hotels prices can be high.
Like Uber, Airbnb does not own any of the properties and does not employ the owners. All the company does is act as a mediator between service users and providers. But, also like Uber, it has caught people’s imagination and the service, like its profit margin, has been expanding rapidly and is not showing signs of slowing down.
Both Uber and Airbnb are businesses that have been made possible by the internet, mobile technolo, y and social media. Developments in recent years have meant that technology itself has become a disruptive force in business. With the wide range of online tools available these days (for everything from task management, file sharing and project management), pretty much anyone can work from anywhere.
End to endless business travel
Another significant technological advancement that has helped create flexible working conditions is the emergence of companies providing unlimited conference calling online. Gone are the days when companies had to shell out thousands on fuel costs, airplane tickets or hiring fancy meeting rooms, now all everyone needs is a computer with an internet connection and access to a conference call provider.
Whether it’s a local or international conference call, the quality of sound is crystal clear, and, best of all, none of the participants have to leave the comfort of their office. This means small companies can easily trade with countries on the other side of the world, while keeping their overheads low. The ability to attend a meeting by online conference call has also made it easier for workers to work remotely, increasing that all important work-life balance.
Ultimately, all of the businesses mentioned in this article work because they provide their users with a service which saves them money and makes their life easier. Well-established industries can become stagnant and, as a result, much less consumer focused. It is important for a young, innovative company to turn up every now and again and shake things up. It not only creates new opportunities, but reminds the more established players in the field that their success is never guaranteed, leading to healthy competition that inevitably benefits everyone.
Innovation in business is always exciting and it will be interesting to see what business model gets the disruption treatment next!