Past few weeks got me to San Francisco to work on a new project to integrate two products dealing with Marketing automation and e-commerce. The new guard for marketing automation – Marketo – housed in San Mateo, CA. The six-hour flight from Philly was a real stretch but you get to be there at lunch time due to the three-hour time zone difference. It seems just a short time ago that Aprimo was the emerging hot-shot in the space. Though Gartner still puts Aprimo-Teradata as the leader in the visionary quadrant for Marketing Resource Management (MRM) and Multi-Channel Campaign Management (MCCM), knowing both products helps one do a quick assessment that Teradata is fighting to maintain that position. Innovation is the key and that is primarily lacking on the Teradata products. When you get into a mould of keeping up the leadership, this core ability somehow seems to vanish – at least among most of the businesses. It takes a lot to still be a leader as Apple or Google does being so huge in their spaces. What Marketo has excelled at is at the art of simplifying campaign management to the end-user. While Teradata’s product can boast a lot more features such as interactive marketing, brand management, offer management, etc all this complicates the overall product’s ability to entice the end-user whose main goal is to run a campaign. Marketo, on the other hand, has introduced a lot of features as a partnership with other partners in the form of LaunchPoint – a program where third-party vendors can provide add-on functionality that buyers can get interested in only if they want to. Thus the core product maintains a level of simplicity for the technology-duanted end-user.
Anyway, you have heard of Uber – the now globally present personal cab company. If you haven’t used Uber staying in California, you must be highly skeptical of technology or of humankind itself! When I first got into SFO, the taxi ride to work cost me $45, while the airport advertises it as a $39 ride. Moreover, the cab driver couldn’t take me to my destination – getting lost in the process, missing turns and asking me where it was. So the same evening, I was chatting with my new colleague and he mentioned Uber. I download the app onto my Samsung phone. I had to give my credit card number and that was it. In the evening, I opened the app. It shows me precisely where I am using my GPS (or wireless if GPS isn’t available). All I had to do was click the button saying ‘Request UberX’. It then precisely tells you where the driver is on the map and how long will be my wait. As the driver approaches me, I can see him or her. I also get to know who is going to be giving me my ride and what car it is. There is absolutely no confusion in that someone else cannot come in and take me for a ride!
Over the next two weeks, I Ubered quite a lot. I got to meet many ordinary Joes who Uber in addition to their job. There was this guy from Peru who started chatting up with me on Peru and its likeness of food with Indian food. The guy from Lebanon was here after dropping off his family back home as it was getting very expensive to live in the US since he lost his job. Now his two near teen-age children don’t want to come back to the US as they love it back home. The young chap who did Ubering in the evening after a hard day’s work as a tilesman gave me some tips on how to take care of my new laminate flooring. Few chaps from India were also company. How does it feel when you get into a cab and hear some Bollywood tunes knowing I am Indian. The guy giving the ride also gets to know me – my photo and name. After each ride, each of us get to rate the other on a 5-star basis. The guy from Nepal was very silent. I was about to give him a tip to strike a conversation with his customers when he started talking. I mentioned my condolences for the recent earthquake tragedy in Nepal and his family luckily escaped harm. He was frustrated that with all the technology that humankind has, they couldn’t predict the earthquake. I could feel pain in his voice and then I decided not to rate anyone based on sullenness anymore – there could be a reason for it. I would give five stars if I got safely from point A to point B without any hazzles. One African-American guy missed an exit to my hotel and he was immediately apologetic and brought it up. The Indian fellow who dropped me for my dinner only found out that the restaurant wasn’t there. He switched off the meter and offered to find the restaurant for me. It happened that the restaurant was just next door – it was the GPS that couldn’t locate it precisely. It is so nice to jump onto a taxi and have a good conversation and getting to know how ordinary lives go on in this world all the time. Thanks Uber!