Protecting Your Company From Being Uber-ized
September 30, 2015 Tom Taulli, Contributor Forbes

Protecting Your Company From Being Uber-ized

Disrupt or Be disrupted? That is the question. Read more on how to learn -and not fear- from successful companies transforming business models through digital technologies:

Disruption is certainly a common theme in capitalization, which goes back for several centuries. Hey, just look at the horse-and-buggy business, right?

But during the last few years, things have changed tremendously – driven by the relentless impact of converging technologies like mobile, social media, big data and the Internet-of-Things (IoT). The result is that a company like Uber can crush an industry – in just a few years.

This has definitely been a major wake-up call for many CEOs. “The big fear is that your company will get Uber-ized even before you know the threat,” said Tyler Prince, who is the Executive Vice President of WW Alliances & Channels at

But there are actions that CEOs can take. “It is important to first listen to your customers,” said Tyler. “You then need to understand how to engage with them in new ways.”

No doubt, this means having a top-notch digital strategy, which goes well beyond having a nice website. After all, with so many people spending time on their phones, companies really need to get serious about mobile.

Granted, this can be expensive and risky. But the good news is that companies like have been developing systems to help get on the right track. For example, the firm has a strong set of applications that cover strategic areas like sales, marketing and customer service. But there are also interesting offerings in emerging categories, such as predictive analytics and IoT (I’m at Dreamforce this week and have already taken a look at new cool apps from Salesforce and its many partners).

All this technology can get overwhelming, though. And this is why it is important to focus on where the customers are feeling the most pain.

So consider the interesting case of Dominoes Pizza. “The company leveraged technology to improve its delivery service,” said Kamal Ahluwalia, who is the Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Apttus.

“One way was to provide customers an app to track the order. It helped to lessen the customer angst, which greatly improved the overall experience.”

Yes, it was a very Uber-like approach.

But winning is more than just about technology. It’s really about taking risks and making mistakes.

Just look at While many e-commerce pioneers have died over the past 20 years, the company has been able to succeed because of its willingness to make lots of experiments and go well beyond its comfort zone. It’s meant some embarrassing moves but also has led to breakout businesses like AWS and the Kindle, which have propelled growth and staved off disrupters.

“When it comes to disruption, there are two parts,” said Sergio Monsalve, who is a partner at venture firm NVP.

“One is the structure of the industry. If it is dramatically inefficient, then there is a danger of disruption. This was the case with Uber’s success against the traditional taxi industry. Next, there will be macro waves that will magnify the effects of the disruption.”

According to Sergio, a company needs to be bold and nimble, which can be tough for many incumbents. “It’s really about disrupting yourself,” he said.

Of course, this can be an awkward topic for any CEO to bring up and get the troops fired-up about.  And this is why, in the end, the disrupters usually wind up being the winners.

Tom Taulli (@ttaulli) is the founder of, which offers both a free web and iPhone app to analyze your employee stock options.


This article was written by Tom Taulli from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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