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Roll with technical disruption or risk being run over

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What is technical disruption?

Simply described I think of it as new innovations that constantly drive our society and economy in new and different directions, allowing us or in some instances forcing us to do things in a new way.

In the early 1900s my family’s business was rocked by the invention of the tractor. We were in the mule business (the mule pulled your plow for those needing a history lesson on farming) and the tractor ran the mule business right out of town.

Who would have thought Ozark, Ala., could be disrupted by technology? But it was.

Mules vs. tractors was just like Netflix vs. Blockbuster, and right now we are seeing the taxi industry brought to its knees by Uber.

I was out with some friends the other night in Gainesville, and my buddy Mike hit the Uber App and I called a cab. We wanted to do a late-night test to see who would win.

I lost.

Uber was there in about three minutes before the dispatcher of the cab company could even tell me when they could have someone available.

Cheaper and faster. That usually wins every time. Who remembers the business matrix: Cheaper, Faster, Good. The matrix dictates that you can only pick two, that you can never have all three. It is usually right on, but not in this case. As for most intents and purposes Uber has proven to be all three. Granted, the company has its issues with safety, lawsuits and digital security, but that’s for another discussion.

Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp started Uber in 2009. It’s estimated they will generate $10 billion in revenue by the end of the year.

Uber and similar services have rocked the taxi industry; lobbyists and lawmakers on both sides still are trying to make heads or tails of the situation. It reminds me of the disruption Napster caused to the traditional music industry, a disruption that continues as artists and record labels try to navigate the current landscape and actually make some money.

Uber is taking the disruption one step further by looking into a second wave of innovation. In February, Uber said it’s collaborating with Carnegie Mellon University to research automotive safety and self-driving cars. The first licenses for self-driving cars went to market in California this year and guess who bought the first 2,500? Uber.

So, sorry taxi companies. Next up, our apologies to Uber drivers: We don’t need you either.

Disruption is nothing new (see mule business) but it strikes fast and furious these days. Our business of technology is all over the place with disruptions (which I like to see as opportunities) around every corner. With every disruption there is something innovative and cool we can introduce to our clients.

Keep an eye on your industry as two out of three professionals believe their business will be disrupted severely in the next five years. It will be interesting to see where Uber is in 10 years with all the competitors popping up. Maybe down the road we will have Uberdrone for package service, so say goodbye to FedEx. Or maybe Ubercopter will take the place of regional air service.

Make sure your business is scalable and ninja quick or you might find yourself stuck in a cab rolling to Blockbuster.

Blake Dowling is chief business development officer at Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com or at www.aegisbiztech.com. 

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