It shouldn’t be ‘game over’ for traditional taxi companies, if they reinvent themselves and take their customer experience to a new level, that is.
Luckily this week’s taxi strike was announced in time, so I could relocate my morning appointment on 27/03/2018 from Brussels to the virtual world. A meeting with four people, each in a different location. So 2018. What if, from now on, a meeting location would be ‘online’ by default? Oh, not really what you were aiming for, dear taxi drivers? And those short videos explaining ‘What is Uber and how do I use it’ in the primetime newscasts were a bit unfortunate too?
Uber is not perfect. And I do not agree with every decision the company makes. But Uber does, just like many popular start- and scale-ups today, understand perfectly that success lies in applying digital technology to drastically improve the customer experience. And if we’re being frank, a traditional taxi ride rarely results in an ear-to-ear smile.
When I’m traveling from La Défense in Paris to Gare du Nord, the Uber-app tells me exactly when I will be arriving. So, if needed, I can reschedule my Thalys back to Brussels. Upon leaving the Uber, the payment is automatically processed via our company account and the receipt is already back in Gent when I enter the train station. The only thing I should worry about is catching my train. I booked my ride while I was saying goodbye to my client. I only leave the building when my driver has already arrived. I know exactly who my driver is, what his name is, what type of car he’s driving, what his license plate is. And what other customers think about him.
A superior customer experience: easy, transparent, no stress, no worries. And the price? In Paris it’s mostly in line with a traditional taxi. I would even be prepared to pay more for this kind of service, that so perfectly caters to my needs and expectations.
‘Game over’ for the traditional taxi companies? No. On the condition that they reinvent their service and boost their customer experience to a higher level. And not this one time, but continuously. Today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. You can’t stop the waves of digital transformation, but you can learn how to surf.
How? Continuously scan for new innovations that can solve current issues, reverse-engineer and copy the success model of Uber, Lyft and others (there’s more to it than just building an app), look for solutions that go further than ‘driving from A to B’, become a partner with other mobility providers and build your future starting from your own strengths. But go further. Much further.
Connected taxis that map traffic congestion in real-time and provide smarter routes than Waze? A multi-lingual Alexa in every taxi that makes interaction with tourists possible? VR-glasses that recognize the landmarks while you’re driving by them?
Legislation should provide a level playing field. But then it is up to the taxi industry to take their (digital) future into their own hands. A lack of energy or passion will not be the issue. That too, we have been able to witness on March 27th 2018.
Last year, in Zürich there was the Product Management Festival, a conference aimed at anyone involved with the management of (primarily digital) products.
What’s intriguing is to see that many of the major digital players we know today (Facebook, Google, Flipkart, …) have similar beliefs in how product teams should operate. I’ve collected some of my favourite take-aways.
When we look at the future, we strongly believe that a new disruptive force will occur which will affect companies globally.
Within tech, we see tremendous amount of innovation primarily because of organisations embracing to be product-driven. This means that unlike having a single product, like your traditional e-commerce or retail business, major players own a number of different products and verticals and continue investments in these and new products or services.
This to capture either more market value, for example AirBnB has now also included experiences and restaurants to their offering beyond just providing a place to stay.
Google is another great example of this. A lot of their original products built beyond their search and advertisement business were built to support their advertisement business by collecting more insightful data. For example: Using Google Maps for navigation-purposes means you’re giving a lot of information about your own habits (and travel location) to Google, which improves their advertising business.
A Portfolio of Products
Hence, I strongly believe that organisations of the future will have a portfolio of different products. Either to support their main source(s) of revenue, or to partially prepare for waves of innovation. For example, for Apple Music it’s totally fine that their subscription service cannibalises iTunes. It’s preparing for the incoming wave of innovation which will sharply reduce the revenue from purchasing music anyhow.
With other words, investing to be a product-driven organisation will help you to become future-proof and tackle areas of growth heads-on.
How do I become a Product Organisation?
The Product Process
Luckily, within product (value) creation, most of the process is pretty clear:
- Data – What do we know today?
- Analyse – What do we conclude today?
- Hypothesis – What new product are we building?
- Experiment – What are the minimum viable product(s)?
- Iterate – How can we mature the minimum viable product?
The above process can be quite useful to internally communicate with your team how to approach building a new product.
Beliefs over Vision
One of the misconceptions within product management is that your product vision is crucial to guide your team. The reality is that your product vision comes only after your belief as a company is crystal clear.
A product vision often changes over time and that hurts your team and corresponding processes while scaling up. Especially as your organisation grows and you house multiple product teams.
Beliefs on the other hand is something shared company-wide and remains solid, despite which direction a product might take.
While your product vision might be to build a platform which connects people, portraying the belief that a connected world is a better world will build a grander perspective for employees (and can drive multiple ideas for products). Now, the best type of products don’t just come from ideas though. They start with clear, validated people problems. Something to keep in mind!
Start with your belief, your product vision will follow (and evolve!) naturally.
Speed of Learning
Anyone who works within digital products will tell you that the creation of minimum viable products are important and that your assumptions should be tested with experiments.
What can be an incredible differentiator is speed. Upfront you know that 90% of your tests will fail (VWO, 2016). The question is how you can get to that 10% of learnings in the shortest amount of time?
Now, even smaller changes count for an experiment. Did you know that booking.com has 1000 running experiments at the same time? Continuously improving your product produces the best results, bottom-line.
This is why so many products see the light of day in tech organisations: Building a minimum viable product is quick, the success of a new product provides tremendous amount of value and the insuccess of a product provides value in the form of data and insight as well. With other words, there’s little to lose when starting a new product experiment, as long as you can contain the resources invested (people, time, money).
An important lessons as well: Quantitative data is not a substitute for qualitative insight.
DATA IN LEARNING
There are many ways to collect and handle data while working with digital products. A common trap is to focus purely on revenue as KPI.
Metrics should be taken more broadly. It should be defined as something which has impact and is time-bound (eg. 7 days, a month, …). This can go beyond the traditional revenue such as understanding your user’s retention rates or general engagement rates. I like to think about value per user. Where the definition of value can change depending on the type of product.
Sometimes, it’s also not the goal of a singular product to provide revenue, but rather to provide data and/or traffic to your main product(s). For example: Unsplash started as a free photography site, primarily to attract attention to the freelance marketplace Crew. Funny enough, Unsplash is it’s own separate business now. Sometimes supporting products can grow larger than the product they were supposed to support.
Digital Disruption in the retail industry
As is true for any traditional retailer today, AVA too is seeing the impact of digital disruption in their industry.
Pure online players are entering their market while introducing new conditions.
Smaller local shops are using the power of online to expand their territory.
Competition is becoming more fierce as the market becomes more saturated and price comparison becomes the norm.
Loyalty is becoming more important, yet harder to nurture.
The identity of shops is transforming from point of sales to experience centers.
Consumers’ preferences are changing as they are switching from paper to digital and quantity over quality. Where they previously depended on their direct network and store expertise, they are now influenced by a wide range of actors from all over the world.
AVA has always been able to build its brand on a strong local presence and mainly mouth-to-mouth advertising. Today, AVA understands that to maintain their position in a digital world, a new strategy will become necessary.
The impact of Digital for AVA
Inspired by our book on Digital Transformation, AVA reached out to Duval Union Consulting to guide them on this new but interesting journey.
Together we held an intense 2 day workshop session to increase insight into the impact of digital disruption and create a north star vision and strategy for the future of AVA.
We discussed AVA’s ambitions with regard to their competition, the relationship with the customer, new products and business models and the change needed within the organization to make everything happen.
During these 2 days, DUC introduced the concept of the Hybrid Customer Journey. The hybrid journey is our vision to future proof traditional retailers to re-claim their position by investing in new retail real-estate only available to those with a great local presence.
We concluded the session with a North Star Vision for AVA to become empowered in a digital world and a digital agenda listing the different programs to tackle to make the transformation happen.
Today we are happy to see that the enthusiasm and sense for initiative is strong within AVA. We are proud to have been given the opportunity to be their partner in this journey and continue to closely follow their progress.
In this post and infographic, we want to explain one of the biggest financial breakthroughs in a century to you, built on top of Bitcoin. This innovation will eventually enable new, consumption-based business models, microtransactions and even the livestreaming of money. The implications of this are hard to overstate.
Why haven’t you heard about this before?
You’ve probably heard some things about the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, the global network that allows people to directly transfer value without middlemen.
The media has been talking a lot about the explosive price action over the past year, but they’re not doing a great job at educating people how all of it works and what amazing innovations are being created. Admittedly, explaining Bitcoin isn’t an easy job. Even the inventor struggled with it!
Writing a description for this thing for general audiences is bloody hard. There’s nothing to relate it to.
– Satoshi Nakamoto, 05/07/2010
Bitcoin is complex to understand, because it combines so many different fields. It’s like trying to understand how the Internet technically works. Most people don’t, but they still trust it with their sensitive information.
When it comes to money, we’re much more reluctant with our trust. Even though most people don’t have a clue how the existing financial system works either, we still want to understand this new thing. So let us explain!
The simple idea behind Bitcoin
In essence, Bitcoin allows you to be the absolute owner of your money, instead of trusting someone else to take care of it at a cost. Not everyone is interested in that or happy about it, which is fine. It can help a lot of people that don’t have access to financial services today.
Bitcoin was not invented to replace your bank, but to provide an alternative financial system that allows you to transfer value anytime, anywhere in the world. It consists of several components that make this possible.
One of them is the widely praised Blockchain technology. This is a database that permanently records ownership of the money and value on the network throughout time. Contrary to popular belief, it is an unattractive tool for criminals, because they don’t want to leave permanent evidence of their crimes.
Bitcoin’s popularity problem
Over the past years, this system has become more popular than the technology can handle. There are huge amounts of people that want to send near instant and near free transactions anywhere in the world, because they can’t do this with their banks.
To process so many transactions, you would eventually need a centralised system with a small amount of powerful computers, with the best Internet speeds in the world. Unfortunately, most of the world does not have that luxury, but we also don’t want a small amount of people to be in control of Bitcoin.
As a result, only a few hundred thousand transactions can be processed per day, and when there is a lot of demand, it can become slower or more expensive to do so.
So a bunch of developers have been spending a lot of time to create promising solutions for this scalability problem.
We created an infographic to explain their innovation to you in simple terms.
You can find it at the bottom of the post.
The Lightning Network
Lightning is a system that works on top of the Bitcoin blockchain, so it uses actual bitcoins. It is like a checking account to your savings account, which allows you to instantly transfer money at almost no cost.
On the blockchain, everyone who helps to secure the network needs to store all of the transactions, but on the Lightning Network this is not needed. This way bitcoin can be used cheaply, by far more people around the world.
The Lightning Network is already live today, but is still in its very early stages. On this site you can see all the connections people have already set up (About 1000 at the time of writing this).
This is what the early Internet looked like as well, hopefully the Lightning Network will become a global success as well.
How can you get started with the Lightning Network?
Later this year, more and more applications will allow you to use the Lightning Network yourself, keep an eye out for this! For now it is being tested by experts.
If you want to learn more about the Lightning Network, we highly recommend you to check out this megathread on Reddit.
If you’re interested in more simple explanations about Bitcoin, Cryptocurrencies and Blockchains, you can follow @SDWouters and @CnuddeLouis on Twitter, or hire them as speakers for your event or organisation. We can bring you an accessible story, tailored to the interests of the audience.
We also give workshops to work out the possibilities for your organisation to use blockchains and/or cryptocurrencies, and to set up new types of business models and revenue streams using innovations such as the Lightning Network. Contact us for more information.