Uberization, The next frontier for Innovation

Uberization is a metaphor for phenomena where mobile technologies are leveraged to connect a buyer and a seller by creating a digital marketplace for services; eliminating the traditional middlemen, who could be playing the role of an aggregator or capital provider or logistics/infrastructure provider etc.


I consider Uberization as Industrial Revolution 3.0 because of its disruptive ability and ability to drive next phase of productivity gains, which is now getting stagnant. It essentially eliminates the middlemen thereby creating more margin for seller and lesser price for buyer without any loss of quality to the service. The fact that the buyer and seller are closer also increases the ability of seller to customize product more by understanding their needs better. Also the digital marketplace is highly scalable and thus a proven model can be taken across geographies rather quickly. Online market place also provides benefits that an aggregator traditionally provides such as brand awareness and consistent and unique value proposition. It also could help meet compliance requirements and bring discipline to the market once it takes sufficient scale.

Are there flipside to it? Yes of course! Recent times I have seen some; Uberization empowers the buyer and the seller and it expects them to use the power judiciously. Also Uberization is a new phenomenon and Law and order is still catching up to protect the seller and the buyer. This makes the buyer and seller more vulnerable. A segment of buyers and sellers are still having change management challenges and have not adapted to the new ways of operating. This has led to multiple channels of order for seller; complicating the value chain.

Despite the challenges, Uberization is the way to go because dream of every nation is to create a society where there is minimum inefficiency between the seller and the buyer and Uberization delivers on this promise.

Designing for what?

Today I took a long walk in Paris. It was a wonderful evening walk and just after rain had cleaned the city and rejuvenated the river.

I saw many Monuments, different building designs, different looking cars… and I found them rather odd. I wondered why they were designed the way they were. I felt may be they were designed right way but they look odd to me because I am not used to seeing things that way; may be I am used to seeing things a particular way and those ways are the ‘right’ ways in my mind. May be I should get out of my concepts and change the definition of right more broadly.

Well then what’s a right design? How do I get away from my bias?

Design that meets a purpose is right design. So what is the purpose and should the purpose be right for design to be right? At the outset, it seems apparent that if the purpose is right, then perhaps the design that meets the purpose too is right!

Let me check my heuristic on what is the most common purpose in India?

  • Efficiency?
  • sabse kum may sabse jyaada?
  • Usne bola… woh samajh daar hai… (par mujhse kum)

I don’t have a very strong heuristic for what purpose drives Parisians but one thing is evident, there is a need to be ‘different’. May be sometimes, when there isnt much to ‘better’, ‘different’ is just fine.

How do you say if a company is rotting from inside?

Hastinapur was a great nation. It did not go down only because of Duriyodhana’s ills but also because its internal defence mechanisms were getting rotten. Same could happen to a company; here are some tell-tale signs:

Sl. No.

Characteristics of falling Hastinapur in Mahabharata

Corresponding symptoms of a Rotting Company

1 People in key position such as Bhishma Pitamaha, Dronachariya, Krupacharya … recognised the issues but none felt they were bound to fix the same; rather they convinced themselves that they cannot do anything about the issues and found solace in cribbing People in key position openly talk about the ills but continue to work their own way ignoring any new sign.
2 Everyone knew that Shakuni was culprit but no one could do anything about it Everyone knows who is spoiling the party but no one decides to do anything about him/her/them
3 It was Duryodhana’s way or highway In meetings, “Who said” becomes more important than “what was said”
4 Good deeds of Pandavas weren’t rewarded and bad deeds of Kauravas weren’t punished Above par work of individuals goes unseen and below par work if individuals is ignored
5 Duryodhana commanded the army and the sages while Pandavas had to go figure out theirs through alliance and prayers Some people seem to have more resources than they can chew and others are left with no resources to put their ideas to work

One could argue that every company has some level of challenge in above four. Perhaps its the level of challenge rather than presence or absence that determines how successful a company would be

WIN, Is that all that matters?

Kiwi lost the ICC World cup tournament to the Australians but why is everyone still praising the Kiwis in this part of the world?

Evidently, the ungentlemanly behaviour exhibited by the Australian players isn’t in the spirit of Cricket and this has swayed sympathy towards the Kiwis. If you want to read more on the article, click here

If WINNING the cup is all that matters then yes, Australia won the match. But Australia LOST in what really counts, because what counts can’t be counted.

It often happens in business relationships too. SLAs met, Business lost.

Thus its vital that Leadership gets a feel of what counts in a business and ensure those are not compromised.

BPO Industry Evolution and new Avatar of BPO

BPO industry started with offshoring basic data capturing and quickly moved the value chain from Rule based processing to Customer contact to now Full process outsourcing. This move up the value chain has been a result of increasing competition that threatened margins of BPOs; challenging them to move higher up the value chain in order to protect their margins. Every movement was a paradigm shift that resulted in vastly more value for clients. Increasing value for clients meant that outsourcing became a rule for the west and business grew phenomenally in BPO destinations creating a new Industry by itself. Establishment of a large industry in a short time frame meant new challenges for BPOs such as talent crunch, anti-outsourcing sentiments in the west but the equation is still working for both clients and BPO resulting in continuation of outsourcing.

However a new paradigm shift is staring at the BPO industry. This is caused by volatility in the market and accelerating change; forcing clients need to be more agile to keep their value chain optimum over a wide range of operations. This has resulted in clients negotiating transaction pricing with BPO companies putting the onus of creating an agile operations on BPO. This will result in a new AVATAR of BPO. Watch out for my next blog on how this Avatar will bring sea change in what BPOs do and why this will help BPOs survive despite reducing labour arbitrage!