The word “Uber” has quickly become the stand-in for the on-demand
economy, so if your industry has been impacted by uberization what does that all mean and what is next?
All the companies that are fundamentally similar to Uber have one thing in common, they connect two entities together, usually buyers and sellers in the most efficient way possible. So uberization could be described as the disruption of industries by companies that use technology to create a more effective way to connect a buyer with a seller.
The number of companies that are taking an Uber like approach to delivering new services keep growing. Caterpillar recently invested in Yardclub, a start-up that helps equipment owners rent out their equipment to other contractors when they aren’t using it. Another example is Rubicon Global who is connecting homes and businesses with trash hauling companies. Instead of putting out the trash for collection on scheduled days, residents simply request a trash pickup when they need one therefore reducing the cost of running these services. The list could go on and on and it will become larger over the next 12 months.
So if service based industries are being disrupted by uberization what about knowledge based industries where the wisdom or knowledge of a human in the delivery of a service is being disrupted by intelligent computers? As machines become smarter they will either do a better job at delivering a knowledge based service or dramatically change the role of the human. So we could use the word “roboization” to describe the rise of robo technology being used to disrupt knowledge based industries such as financial services or consulting.
But unlike uberization that is being mastered day by day as new solutions are being created that leverage existing technology, roboization will be difficult to master as knowledge is not achieved as a result of merely filtering information through sophisticated algorithms, it results from a far more complex process that is social, contextual and is wrong more often than right. So while technology is getting smarter and we are seeing more companies delivering robo solutions enter the market, we still have a little way to go until roboization achieves the same impact that we are currently seeing from the impact of uberization.