Google’s Waze has been making waves by using its data about cars on the road to assemble the largest carpooling platform ever. This has the potential to disrupt Uber.
On Waze, you can schedule a ride with a driver going the same direction as you. You can see reviews of riders, drivers, and make a new friend, all while keeping a car off the road. Environmentally, it is smart. Economically, it leverages slack resources at virtually no cost. Drivers get “some gas money,” so that is even less than hailing an Uber.
Frankly, it is a brilliant way to use data to share in the activity of driving and commuting. If this catches on, it has some big implications:
1. Winning Technology Always Lowers Price: We often loose sight of why technology or any specific advancement works. Venture capital is always looking for the next great technology. The next great technology lowers cost. Simple. Sometimes it is not obvious what the competitor cost might be, however. Microsoft won because Word put secretaries out of work; Word cost less than secretaries. Digital cameras did the same to photographers and printers, and well Wave can put Uber drivers on the ropes, too. Look for cheap; it is good!
2. Long-term Car Demand is Uncertain and Declining: As part of a team-building exercise, I ask my MBA students to share their dream car. Many say they never want a car. Now, you can hail an Uber or drive for nearly free on Waze. It is a change of priorities unseen before. I’d like a Lamborghini Huracan (green please), and if all these people really get off the roads, then it will be possible to really open up on that Lambo. Yes, please get off the road! In the meantime, Ford, GM, Toyota, Honda, VW and the like should plan on a generation owning less cars.
3. Making Boring Things Fun is…Well, Fun: The idea to ride with new people is fantastic. Don’t like NPR, pick a driver that has Rush on the radio. All the while, you sit back, slurp down a latte, pay a couple of bucks for gas, and make a new friend. Really, Tinder should look into this. Imagine the opportunities – first dates on the I-5 on the way to HQ1.
4. This is Bad for Mass Transit: Prices for Waze carpooling are much less than mass transit. Plus, mass transit is uncomfortable and you don’t get to pick your friends. Sorry, CTA and Metra – it was never fun after the cocktail and saloon trains closed in 2008. 🙁
5. The HOV Lanes are Going to Get Full: Really, I’d invite someone to ride with me for free if it got me in the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes in NOVA and DC.
I just got a Waze driver to take me to work for less than $2.00, which is about 10% of the Uber price. This is great! Bye-bye, Uber…well maybe.
Professor Walker provides keynote talks, seminars presentations, executive training programs, and executive briefings.
Recent talk topics enjoyed by clients have included:
“From Big Data to Big Profits: Getting the Most from Your Data and Analytics”
“Leveraging Artificial Intelligence and Automation at Work”
“Winner Take All – Digital Strategy: From Data to Dominance”
“Success with an Inter-Generational Workforce: From Boomers to Millennials”
“FinTech, Payments, and Economic Trends and Outlooks in Consumer Lending”
“The World in 2050: Risks and Opportunities Ahead”
About Russell Walker, Ph.D.
Professor Russell Walker helps companies develop strategies to manage risk and harness value through analytics and Big Data. He is Clinical Professor of Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences at the Kellogg School of Management of Northwestern University. He has worked with many professional sports teams and leading marketing organizations through the Analytical Consulting Lab, an experiential class that he founded and leads at Kellogg.
His most recent and award-winning book, From Big Data to Big Profits: Success with Data and Analytics is published by Oxford University Press (2015), which explores how firms can best monetize Big Data through digital strategies. He is the author of the text Winning with Risk Management (World Scientific Publishing, 2013), which examines the principles and practice of risk management through business case studies.
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