By Mark Bell and Khalil Souki
From Airbnb to Skyscanner, more and more businesses are emerging who act as facilitators, intelligently connecting supply and demand. Their business model is based on helping consumers and providers to make their own choices in well-informed and well connected market places. These facilitators then use all of the data they capture to further improve the market place. Uber has had a dramatic impact on taxi services around the world. But it has also had an equally significant effect on other sectors, such as legal, cleaning and barbering.
So, could this sort of ‘uberisation’ be applied to government services? In particular could this approach improve the services it provides to support business growth?
We think the answer is yes; and there are three things government needs to do to make this a reality.
Business support services do not need to be provided by government. From our experience companies generally don’t really care about who provides the advice and guidance. They just want to know that it is trustworthy and that they can access it easily.
Equally, the services they need are fairly standard. They want to know about the basics of running a business; how to find and keep customers; how to develop (and protect) their products or services; how to fund their activities; how to employ and retain the best talent; and how to do business in foreign markets. And occasionally, they need to get to grips with new disruptions in their market, like from the advent of social media.
There are plenty of providers for these kinds of services so governments do not need to invest in creating new (or slightly different) models. They should follow the uber model and focus on syndication and connectivity of support. They should create a market place where business leaders (current and future) can connect with advice and guidance and where the products available will be improved continuously through transparent competition and peer review.
Governments should trust businesses to make their own decisions about the support they need. In an uber model, the role of governments should be one of helping the business really understand their own needs rather than prescribing specific solutions. By providing smart digital diagnostic tools, the uber model would help businesses to assess their needs and then direct them to the right advice and support at the right time. Government can really add value by enabling businesses to find the provider who can best meet their needs, when they need it.
In an uber model, governments have a role in harnessing the power of data generated by the marketplace and using it to help support services adapt to ever-changing needs. They can learn based on real-time user insight and improve services based on empirical evidence.
Digital technology provides governments with the potential to leverage vast amounts of data to inform future policy interventions. If governments do this effectively they can help their local businesses get ahead of those in competing economies. They can provide organisations with the intelligence and insights that enable them to respond quickly to, and even predict, new opportunities and changes in the market place. But this data should be used to strengthen the advice and guidance system – not to control it.
To find out more about how we can help your organisation improve and develop business support, contact us.