Circa 2008: It is 4 am on a Monday morning. I have to take the first flight out of Chicago’s O’Hare at 6 am to New York for a business meeting, and I am stressed with a capital ‘S’. The cab that I had booked with the local cab company has not shown up. I am dialing their 1800 helpdesk number and getting a busy tone every single time. I am in a fix - should I call another cab service or drive myself to the airport. I decide to drive to the airport and NEVER use the cab service again.
Circa 2019: It is 4 am on a Monday morning. I am using a ride-hailing app to order a car to pick me up for a ride to O’Hare. As I key in my address – the app tells me that there is a surge pricing because it is a rush period. I go ahead and order the ride on the app. I have three experience options to choose from; I choose the second one, as I do not have the time for the pool option. In a couple of seconds, my request has been relayed to the drivers around my house. One of the drivers by the name of Neil picks up my request and an Acura is on the way to pick me up for my ride to O’Hare.
The Uber story is a poster child of agility because of the sense and respond mechanism built into the business model. You can get a ride on demand by using the app, which serves as an aggregator of demand. If you are a student willing to make some extra cash by using your car to provide rides, you can become an Uber driver in your spare time. You can get passenger on demand. So, how does this sense and respond model tie in with Lean Agile principles.
Principle 1 – The Customer is the King or Queen
The beauty of the ride-hailing app lies in the seamless delivery of customer experience. It gives you the choice of three types of car experience and also the price point for each. Once you place the order, you can see how far the driver is from the pickup point or you can speak to the driver to provide cues on how to find you from the sea of passengers waiting at the airport pick up. I love the cashless payment feature because the delivery of the ride receipt to my mail is such a relief from the days of keeping a paper receipt for expense reimbursement. Last, but not the least – the ability to give feedback after every ride makes the experience personal for both the driver and the passenger. There are times I have tipped the driver handsomely and there are times I have just given one star, if the service is poor. So – the choice of recognition is mine and I am not forced into it.
Principle 2 – It is about transparency, during the journey
This is the killer feature of the business model. You get to choose the type of ride, you know an expected time of arrival for the pickup, you can see passenger reviews on the driver, so at all stages of your ride experience, you have information on hand to make a call. For example, you can see the surge pricing and decide to go for a limo service because it will cost you the same.
So, both as a passenger and a driver, you have transparent access to demand and supply to make a good transportation buying or selling decision.
Principle 3 – Optimize the ecosystem by deferring decision-making till you are ready to consume the service
The Uber model is built on a pricing algorithm that is sensitive to demand and supply in real time. As a passenger, you can order a car on the app, when you are ready to ride. It does not lock capacity through waiting time or the prospect of a ride in the future. It is about here and now, so wastage is eliminated.
An ‘Everyday Agile’ methodology is built on the foundation of astute utilization of resources, a seamless process that puts the customer at the center of value delivery and the simplification of the user experience.
About the Author
Global Head – Enterprise Agility, Consulting and Services Integration, TCS
Nidhi has more than 25 years of experience in selling and delivering consulting solutions across the breadth of the technology landscape. Her work includes the IT strategy, process and enterprise architecture practice areas. She has presented papers at several conferences, and is also a certified facilitator.