Let be clear from the beginning, this is not a new post on the « war » between the Taxi and private hire, which Uber is a symbol, but rather a come-back to the term uberisation made famous by the CEO of Publicis Maurice Levy and what we can learn from that in France.
Why a service that works so well
In a sake of transparency, I am a regular user of Uber in Paris (where the service is better than in many countries I think) or worldwide, if we except Sydney where the service is really bad compare to others countries. I find it convenient because I don’t need local currency or change when I arrive in a foreign country. So if I am a convinced customer, this does not prevent me from having a critical look at the company’s model. Although I think in this case, taxis thought they were untouchable, and they have dug their own graves ( the Uber concept came to the founders after taking taxis in Paris. In contrast in Japan, Uber fails to hack the market as the service provided by local taxis is excellent). Especially if we dig a little deeper the question, it’s primarily in France, a war between a French monopoly (G7 / Taxi Bleu) and a player from the new economy, whose drivers are / will eventually be the victims of the two camps. But back to our subject, and let’s focus on what Uber offers. Uber is only applying the basic of startups business. Answering to a need and be focused only on the added value for the end customer. In this, without doubt a model to follow : use technological opportunities in connection with the usage of customers to challenge/hack an existing market . And indeed, no industry can claim to be immuned from a new player that challenges the existing model and the place of the leading companies in their market.
UBER regularly cited as an example of sharing economy
Nice marketing work at the end, because Uber is not really based on a sharing model economy. This concept is trendy, both economically as ethically, that smells good CSR. To understand more clearly, here is the wikipedia definition of sharing economy.
Sharing economy can take a variety of forms, including using information technology to provide individuals, corporations, non-profits and governments with information that enables the optimization of resources through the redistribution, sharing and reuse of excess capacity in goods and services. A common premise is that when information about goods is shared (typically via an online marketplace), the value of those goods may increase for the business, for individuals, for the community and for society in general. Collaborative consumption as a phenomenon is a class of economic arrangements in which participants share access to products or services, rather than having individual ownership.
If Uber clearly offers an intermediation service, via an application, it’s the only ticked box. Everything else which are the foundations of the sharing economy are far from Uber values, quite the contrary.
And business model of French industry in all this?
Should the Uber model be followed by French companies. By using a self-entrepreneurship system Uber clearly goes against the French social model based on a number of social contributions for the funding of many social services through a distribution system. And clearly the French social system is one of the most powerful in the world. Sorry for my English friends, but for those who have a doubt I recommend you to go to the English subway or the British public health service, you will not be disappointed. If in recent times some french bashing was appropriate, particularly around the issue of charges, taxes, the social system, the reduction of working time … for now other stories can be listened (even if it’s far from a perfect model, starting with the administrative thousand layers), showing that the grass is not necessarily greener elsewhere. Already, and this is not a novelty, the French are more productive than English (if English is the index 100, we are at 125 relative to GDP and number of hours worked) to name a few, and the source it’s not a French newspaper, but the very liberal The Economist, usually more accustomed to french bashing. Moreover France is 6th in the World for hourly productivity and French employees work on average more than German. Moreover, studies increasingly show that working longer degrades the health of employees but also productivity and profits.
I strongly believe, and I am not the only one, that the French way of life is a strength and an attractiveness for many foreign executives. Up to us to simplify some of our administrative rules, enhance our strengths, and understand that there is a lot to learn from startups like Uber, without imagining an heaven that turns its back to our model of solidarity and way of life.