A biz can't be "uberized." It can become more automated, more personalized, more mobile, etc. Stop using one biz's strategy to define yours.— Gabe Alonso (@gabealonso) November 3, 2014
It seems as though everyone is trying to "Uberize" their business right now. The fact that these conversations are happening in conference rooms and ideation sessions around the world doesn't surprise me. Uber is having a very long and bright moment in the sun. What I am surprised by though is that nearly all of these conversations focus on the wrong end of what Uber is doing.
Yes, Uber deployed mobile technology in a smart, elegant way. Yes, they eliminated some of the most awkward and frustrating parts of dealing with cab services. And yes, Uber is constantly expanding and looking for ways to improve their service. All of this adds up to the magical experience people have the first few times they use Uber and it's what makes people want to keep using them. But the smartest thing Uber did happened before all of those things came into existence—they found a really big problem to solve.
This is the key to their success. If there weren't a lot of people out there who already hated dealing with cab services, we wouldn't be talking about Uber in the way that we are. Their moment would have passed by now, if it ever happened in the first place. At best, they'd be in a position akin to Foursquare—trying to solve a problem that not many people have (letting their friends know where they are).
Instead, we're all talking about Uber because so many of us hate dealing with cab services and the way the whole cab experience plays out. Add to it that the cab services are working with their local governments to shut Uber down and it just pisses us off even more and makes us want Uber to succeed all the more. Now Uber isn't just a cool technology solution to a problem I have, they're an underdog challenger that "the man" is trying to keep down and that's not cool, man.
All this to say, the next time Uber comes up in a meeting as an example of "what we should be doing", don't roll your eyes and then join in on the new-ways-to-use-technology idea vomit session. Instead, agree and then get everyone to start pushing into the problems that need to be solved. Without a real and big problem to solve, you're wasting everyone's time.