Uber, Airbnb, WhatsApp: What can we learn from them
Current digital business scenario is demanding greater adaptability and innovation.
The changes we’ve gone through in recent years created the conditions for the emergence of companies like Uber, Airbnb and WhatsApp. These companies share some common characteristics. Firstly, their businesses are based on the cloud, enabling flexible and scalable support models at relatively low cost. Furthermore, they share the assumption that the interactions between people, companies and businesses are increasingly based on mobile devices. It is also important to highlight the highly competitive context in which they were born, after all, the competitor is just a click away.
There is no doubt that the growth of startups is a risk to traditional industries. Just remember the impact that WhatsApp is making in the revenues of mobile carriers. To minimize these risks and maximize new business opportunities is necessary to learn from the startups and collect the offered by the digital world. However, some changes are needed to enable that.
The first is related to the role of IT within companies and in particular the appreciation of the CIO. The reason is quite clear: the IT professionals are the ones with skills to deploy technologies like big data, machine learning and IoT and generate new business opportunities. We are talking here about a closer relationship between business areas and IT.
Another change required is linked to the IT´s own organization, which should be able to balance stability and flexibility. In this case, the best way is the adoption of Bimodal IT, enabled to maintain the operation of the company systems while stimulating innovation. In the first mode, which supports the business transaction systems, one should keep rhythmical steps and based on governance processes. At the same time, it is necessary to make room for the second mode of operation, innovation driven and based on agile methods. To succeed in the digital transformation, these two modes must coexist and work in a complementary manner.
Finally, there is another learning we can draw from this generation of startups: a more flexible idea of “finished product”. All Gmail users surely remember that Gmail was in beta for years, but very frequently new features were available to be used and tested. We are all familiar with the experience of constantly updating apps installed in our smartphones. These updates should be based on what people actually seek. Once they were always ready to listen to the wishes of customers, Uber, WhatsApp and Netflix managed to be the companies they are today.
Until recently, much of what was done in the companies was bounded by the evolution of what is already working with best practices and good governance. Now, you must imagine a future and seek the best ways to build that future. Every day, new technologies emerge and with them, the pressure to create a new reality within our companies is increased. Anyway, either to build the future or restructure the present, it is time for IT to take the lead.