Uber and the sharing economy

Because of my personal and professional habits I have been exposed to the sharing economy and its services, since the beginning. I have been using Uber in London, Paris and Milan; I have been watched airbnb, I have investigated other apps and services (the new parking apps).

Uber, my first experience and attempt to understand more. I am still using the service and I have been watching the protests raised all over the globe, so close to me, in Milan, Paris, now London in a few days, against the new service. Change always brings pain, and Uber represents change. And it’s not just Uber: there is a new plethora of smart-phone apps that will bring  a driver to your door in a few minutes. All tentative of resistances from old European super-regulated lobbies – taxies are just the most visible example – won’t change their fate. As Archie Bland commented, on his article on the Independent few days ago:

Uber argument that the regulation of most taxi markets is based on a model that smartphones have made irrelevant, seems credible. And it’s hard to escape the feeling that whatever bumps may be in the road, Uber is an idea that has fundamentally changed things, and that sooner or later, the black cab as we know it will be extinct.

It’s would be smarter, at this stage, to fight and compete on the same ground instead of preparing to fight useless battles.

Uber could be killed so easily from a so massive quantity of cabbies in London and taxis in Paris and Milan, re-adapting and using its same technology weapon, and making advantage of a better presence in the territory and a competitive price. But taxi drivers have chosen to fight using old tactics and weapons: strikes and protests. They are not focusing on customer satisfaction and benefits. They are instead putting all efforts in a desperate defence of their old (even if regulated by local laws) privileges.

At the very end, I am aware about Uber’s premium price but I am too aware about his tremendous efficiency. And I make my choice based on two main criteria: the ubiquitous use of credit cards, and the easy-to-use app with its stylish info-maps.

Only one cab over 6-7 (I’m personally making this statistic) accepts credit cards in London. Some of them state to accept cards and then apparently discover that the machine doesn’t work, once at destination. Same situation in Milan, where at least radio-taxis are starting to be equipped with card machines – emails and apps still represent the future.

It’s not just Uber. Still Mr. Bland on the subject:

They all (sharing services, my note) propose to remove the middle man, but even that’s sort of old hat: eBay and the like have been doing it for years. What’s new is the promise to exploit spare capacity with a structure that means that anyone can be a business (…). This is happening; it’s unstoppable. I guess the sharing economy, or a version of it, became inevitable from the moment that Steve Jobs presented the first iPhone.

Milano Design Week is coming. Day100 too.

The break is over. Two more days in Milan. Then back to Airworld. Paris first. Then London and Hannover. Back to Milan during Milano Design Week (I Saloni, @iSaloniOfficial), the world’s most important design fair, and it’s outdoor exhibition (Fuorisalone, @Fuorisalone) that will fill shops, streets and entire areas of the town with design exhibitions (photogallery from my old blog).

On the job front, we are close to Day 100 of the integration. Which is nothing more than an internal milestone to release communications and assets. Like the one below.

Brands

Two great days of meetings here in NY. Met our CMO and first class marketing partners. This is becoming very exciting.

Yesterday I had a dinner with a bunch of marketers and designers; had a chat with a designer who spent 11 yrs. in Microsoft and gave a lot of funny anecdotes on Steve Ballmer and the MS leadership. He’s currently working for the agency that has just redesigned the site of Corriere della Sera.

I also met the team who ten years ago created the fresh GE Ecomagination campaign. Same company refreshed McDonald’s, Samsung and Unicredit brands. So cool.

Try working from the café this week

Interesting collection of some of the best marketing promotions making advantage of the current Tube strike in London (last week, 2 days; and 2 days planned this week, but I am learning that Transport of London has just called the strike back).

Interesting to see, but not really a surprise, twitter and social are preferred channels for these real-time promotions, with few exceptions.

Humour is  broadly used across all campaigns. And so is sales discount, which is a good lever and works particularly well in situations like this.

Languages for communicating acquisitions

Once we started our comms plan for Day 1, the day of the public announcement of the acquisition, we had the challenge of the languages. Which languages should the assets (letters, social streams, newsletter and web contents, etc.) be localised to? Both companies are international and act in more than 50 countries around the globe.

So we decided to go with more than one language… and we ended up with 11 languages! Specifically: English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Italian, Dutch, Korean, Japanese and Russian.

Choice of the languages is dictated by existing presence and business potentiality of the territory for our specific field (Energy and Automation). So it might change, sector by sector.

The recommendation for critical communications as an acquisition could represent is always to go with several languages. This is what I call “reaching the last mile”. We are closer to the customers if we speak the same language.

Using social for M&A communications

We decided to use social media for both internal and external communications on Day 1, in addition to other channels. You might remember that “Day 1” is the way we call the day when the acquisition will be formally announced.

We use SocialCast, internally. VMWare SocialCast is a social network and collaboration tool for the enterprises. Few days ago I have created a group – it works like the LinkedIn groups – to answer all questions from employees and to post news about the acquisition/integration process.

Externally, we have created a full comms plan as you can expect from acquisitions of this magnitude (we agreed to be acquired for £3.4b). We will use social media as well, to communicate to customers, partners and external stakeholders. Joint plans (= from both companies) are already in place to secure consistency with the message and to align the communication streams on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook.

More to come.