“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney
I’ve written previously about Blue Ocean Strategy, a book published in 2005 and written by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, Professors at INSEAD and Co-Directors of the INSEAD Blue Ocean Strategy Institute. If you haven’t got the book or read it, my best advice is to do so today.
Blue Ocean Strategy explains how a one-time accordion player, stilt walker, and fire-eater, Guy Laliberté is now CEO of one of Canada’s largest cultural exports, Cirque du Soleil. What he did, made the competition irrelevant. But how did Cirque profitably increase revenues by a factor of 22 over the last ten years in such an unattractive environment? The answer is in an early tagline: “We reinvent the circus.”
If you’ve watched TV this week, or tried to travel in London, you’ve definitely heard of Uber. They too are making the competition irrelevant. They’re changing the way taxis are hired. It looks as if they could make the competition irrelevant.
Looking for something new or a new way to do something
Heard of Airbnb? They’re the new kid on the block if you want to find a place to stay. Their online service enables people like you and me to rent from people in over 34,000 cities and 190 countries. Their competition is irrelevant.
But these aren’t the only companies doing what they do so differently and making the competition irrelevant in their industry. Here are a few of them (the descriptions below are largely derived from their websites):
- Wimdu: With Wimdu, you can book accommodation all over the world. Or earn money by renting out your own place. www.wimdu.co.uk
- Zipcar: A car club that turned into the world’s leading car club network. Today, thanks to cool technology, a member-driven user experience, and a team of hands-on car club enthusiasts, they are redefining the way this generation thinks about alternative transport. www.zipcar.co.uk
- Sidecar: The new Sidecar app allows riders to choose the vehicle, the driver and the price, tailoring every ride for any occasion. www.side.cr
- Coursera: This is an education platform that partners with top universities and organisations worldwide, to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. They envision a future where everyone has access to a world-class education. They aim to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in. www.coursera.org
- Mass Challenge: They envision a creative and inspired society in which everyone recognises that they can define their future, and is empowered to maximize their impact, by:
– Helping early-stage entrepreneurs win.
– Connecting entrepreneurs with the resources they need to launch and succeed immediately.
- Blackjet: BlackJet lives at the intersection of private aviation and commercial airlines, offering the reliability and convenience of a private jet experience at prices commensurate with premium commercial carriers. They’ve changed the game. And with the entire service easily accessible through their website and iPhone application, you’ll have a fleet of private aircraft in your pocket. Book seats on private jets with just a few clicks – unheard of, until now. www.blackjet.com
- Dog Vacay: With Dog Vacay, you can find a dog sitter in your neighbourhood. dogvacay.com
Will they all succeed? Maybe not. But probably most will.
There’s a great article on this subject titled Social Capital: The Secret Behind Airbnb and Uber, which you can read here.
How Barclays feels about the future of banking
The boss of Barclays may well have read Blue Ocean Strategy because Barclays Bank fear that tech firms could replace banks one day. The bank’s chief executive Antony Jenkins said earlier this week that customers are increasingly happy to manage their finance online. Banks must give customers a reason to stay with traditional lenders instead of jumping ship entirely. To do that, he said, banks must continue to invest in new technologies and customer service if they want to avoid being replaced by firms such as PayPal and Amazon.
Read about this here.
Action – do nothing or do something but you must make it different and better
The message for firms is that you must change according to demand and you must respond to the way that your market takes advantage of new technology. Change or die, in a nutshell. The question is: What can you or your firm do to make your competition irrelevant?
“All my life I’ve had one dream, to achieve my many goals.” – Homer Simpson