Facebook and Uber may not seem like the most likely bedfellows, however a recently announced partnership suggests they may have some chemistry.
The two tech firms are working together to give Facebook users the ability to hail Uber cabs directly from within Facebook’s Messenger app, with the latest version including the addition of an Uber button. From within Messenger, users can track their driver's location, communicate with them before they arrive and pay for the ride, all without leaving the Messenger app.
While the benefits for Facebook are clear; the opportunity to create a new revenue stream by taking a cut of each payment and offer a more convenient service to Messenger users, the benefits for Uber are less obvious; Uber already has a very popular app with much of this functionality built in.
So what’s in it for Uber? Chiefly, Uber gets access to Facebook’s massive audience, and the chance to grow its customer base exponentially by converting some of Facebook’s 1.5 billion users into Uber customers, with the ability to sign-up for an account without leaving the Messenger app.
But what’s more, this partnership is all about ease. Uber has thought carefully about how to make private hire even more convenient in its attempt to make it become the first choice for consumers looking to hire a cab, globally. This rationale was also behind its 2014 partnership with United Airlines, where United app users and e-ticket holders have the ability to hire a cab to take them to their airport or take them to their next destination after landing.
Find the perfect partner
Uber’s mission to integrate with other apps and services such as Facebook and United sets a good example to follow. The integration is powered by Uber's API, which the company is making available to app developers worldwide, paving the way for Uber to be added to other services, growing both its user base and revenues, and strengthening Uber’s selling point around convenience.
Innovative partnerships such as this, which allow digital businesses to support one another, and open up huge new advertising and branding opportunities, are likely to become much more common in the years ahead. However, not every partnership is perfect. The key to Uber’s success lies in remaining true to its business goal of putting the customer experience first.
As part of a new generation of businesses that have the customer at their core, Uber has been able to significantly disrupt the private hire market in a relatively short period, improving both the customer’s experience and expectations, by raising the stakes for other competing companies.
Keeping the magic alive
For established tech companies, it’s essential to continuously raise the stakes in user experience and excite customers with new features. Companies should continuously re-evaluate their service offering and identify ways to improve it, such as forging a partnership with another business.
However, to survive and thrive, requires more than a few tweaks to the user experience and partners. Consideration should be given to how innovation is approached generally and how it is supported, in order to foster new and potentially game-changing developments in the future.
Many businesses have come unstuck after taking their eye off the ball as new trends and disruptive players emerge, and the environment in which they operate changes dramatically. Companies, such as Blockbuster, failed because they fell short of meeting rising customer expectations. This generally occurs when organisations don’t understand what’s happening to their marketplace, don’t know what their customers want, or are too slow to react in making radical changes that will make a difference.
To avoid a similar fate, businesses should think of innovation as a continuous process, rather than as an end goal.
Just look at Uber: faced with the prospect of driverless cars disrupting the already disrupted private hire market in the future, Uber is already looking to safeguard its own future through investment in a research centre tasked with developing self-driving cars and mapping technology.
In today’s world one thing is certain: ‘staying put’ is never an option. To prosper, organisations must continue to evolve, break boundaries, and innovate continually.
Stephen Morgan, co-founder at digital transformation business Squiz