Editor’s column: Losing my (Uber) virginity
It’s official. Since the last edition of BusinessCloud, I’ve lost my Uber virginity and I don’t know how I lived without the taxi firm for so long.
More about that later but in the last few months I’ve used Just Eat for the first time to deliver takeaway food straight to my home and today someone has recommended Waze, which is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app.
If a 44-year-old technophobe like me is embracing technology then something amazing is happening – and that’s the point.
Uber, Just Eat and Waze are great examples of how technology has come up with easy and quick solutions to long-standing problems that we’ve all moaned about. What’s not to like? As a consequence, using these types of technology becomes second nature.
Take the example of Uber. BusinessCloud is based on the very edge of Manchester city centre. A lot my meetings are in and around Spinningfields. To walk there takes 25 minutes and to drive involves dodging roadworks and paying a fortune in parking charges.
Calling a private hire company is a faff. Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp recognised this problem was being replicated all over the world and founded Uber in 2009. Today it has a valuation of $66bn.
I downloaded the Uber app, set up an account and gave it go. I typed in my pick-up and destination details and then requested an Uber. Six minutes later (Editor’s note: That’s six minutes!) the vehicle pulled up. I knew the name of my driver, what he looked like and the registration plate before it arrived. The fare was £3.20 and was debited from my account so no money changed hands. I was then sent a feedback form about the driver. It was so simple and quick even I got it. Now I can’t get enough of Uber.
The third edition of BusinessCloud – which you can read in digital form at the bottom of this post and subscribe to (free physical copy in the post!) at this link – is full of examples of how technology makes our lives easier and more efficient. Our cover story is a special report on the difference tech made to the victorious Team GB team at the Rio Olympics (p8).
One of my favourite stories in the magazine is also one of the scariest. Jenny Brookfield spoke to Artem Kuharenko, founder and chief executive of an app called FindFace (p5).
I have a problem remembering the names of everyone I meet – and this might be the solution. FindFace works by scanning users on Russian social network Vkontakte and comparing it with a photo the user uploads.
The app is currently about 70 per cent accurate but the implications are enormous and it can’t be long before it’s available here.
Social media is a massive part of our lives and it’s only going to get bigger.
Entrepreneur Steve Bartlett recognised that a few years ago and made a living out of it by launching marketing agency Social Chain (p14). Bartlett is an interesting character. Image is important to him both personally and for his business.
However, great technology will only get you so far. Your business can have all the bells and whistles going but the foundation has to be great customer service and products.
Rarely have I met anyone more inspirational than Iain Hennessey (p26). He’s a paediatric surgeon and director of innovation at Alder Hey children’s hospital in Liverpool. He wants to provide the best service to his patients and recognises that technology can make this happen.
Hennessey is one of those people that the Government needs to listen to. It’s crazy that the software he has to manage his music collection is better than the software available to manage his patients. Why do we spent billions of pounds on patient care but send them appointments in the post? It has to change.
It’s one of the reasons why BusinessCloud is holding a conference on technology in the healthcare sector on November 23. You can sign up to attend for free here.
It is just one of a number of events we’re organising. These are exciting times.
Chris Maguire, editor