Sitting at lunch reading this month’s, Fast Company, I spotted a phrase that made me angry. Not the flipping of a table angry, more the exasperated smiling through grinding teeth simmering anger. The phrase that set me off was uber-fication. It was used in a context to describe how innovate and disruptive a given a company was being.
Eh? What could they be talking about?
Are they talking about a company that has empowered the individual, by creating a network to bring two or more people together to execute a business transaction. Maybe instead they mean a company that is challenging the conventional wisdom of a given industry, turning it upside down through the use of connected technology. Or uber-fication is the empowerment of the individual to make a decision in real-time without prior complicated negotiation or contract commitment.
It seems to suggest there wasn’t innovation or disruption until Uber came along. Like we had to wait until Uber came along to give us a word to describe this business phenomena. I can’t help but feel we had a word that embodies this long before Uber was bastardized into a verb. Now what could that word be?
Oh I remember now … of course … the Internet.
The Internet has been the most disruptive and innovate vehicle in arguably the history of humankind, including the printed press and the telegraph. Where the Internet won over the printed press and telegraph was its accessibility to anyone; there are no barriers to someone to get online and have a presence.
Many dreamed big. Many failed big. But those that dreamed were mocked by the very industries they were taking on (Amazon, NetFlix, YouTube, Google, eBay to name some of the big disruptors).
Uber is merely another example to add to this list. They haven’t done anything these leaders haven’t done some 20 years prior. Uber has done to the personal on-demand transport industry what eBay did for classifieds, or Amazon for books, or YouTube for broadcast. They connected one user with another, to facilitate a transaction. Airbnb is another example in the hospitality sector. There are countless examples — many of them predate Uber.
So let us not forget and diminish the very spark that lit this fire that is fueling all this innovation and disruption, and allows Uber to exist. Stop trying to be trendy and make up words when we have all the right words already.
It is called the Internet. Pure and simple.