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Technology Trends: Mobile Apps For Personal Services - Executive Leadership Articles

Technology Trends: Mobile Apps For Personal Services

Executive Leadership Articles

Technology Trends: Mobile Apps For Personal Services

It has received a bit of bad press lately, but Uber is changing the game not only for personal transportation, but for the way consumers and service providers connect, agree on terms, and settle payment. The “ride-sharing” service that’s basically a smartphone-enabled taxi gets people from point A to point B quickly, with real-time information about how far the car is from picking you up, easy payment with no cash or credit card, the option for driver or passenger to decline a ride, requesting either a different passenger or a different driver, and a rating system that lets others know what kind of driver or passenger is involved.

From the consumer end, it’s tough to beat the convenience and quality control. From the provider end, it gives someone the opportunity to make money with resources he or she already has: a car and some time. Uber specifically executes a marketing plan that takes advantage of the social aspect of smartphone use, spending its money on free rides and word of mouth rather than expensive advertising, but marketing aside, the product itself is the ground-shifter, and there are sure to be a thousand attempts at climbing into that space with variations on the theme.

Apps already exist for personal services other than driving. There are mobile apps for errand-running, for example. Someone in an office somewhere decides that she can’t pick up the cleaning before the establishment closes. She opens an app, describes the errand, and an already vetted errand-runner nearby responds, picking up the cleaning, dropping it off at the office, and collecting payment from the app service, who collects it from an on-file credit card.

Other, longer-term services are also offered via mobile app: party planning, dog-walking, plant-watering, and housecleaning are some of the offerings, usually beginning in a select few cities and then expanding as clientele grows. The motivated service provider can conceivably be on call for multiple apps, picking up groceries in the morning, putting together a gift basket in the afternoon, and then driving partiers home from bars in the evening. For the consumer, the increase in these kinds of services means more efficient use of time, for those who can afford it. But it can be a lot more. A few apps are trying to connect parking spaces with drivers, and there are apps that help users find nearby publicly accessible toilets. Is it long before apps connect drivers and bathroom-seekers to private citizens willing to let you use their garages or home bathrooms for a small fee?

For many consumers, payments via mobile app are old hat. Users are so used to picking up coffee with a prepaid barcode app that restaurants or cafes who don’t offer a pay-by-app option are shunned, and many consumers want some kind of loyalty reward, perhaps in the form of credits or free product after a certain number of uses. For these users, the potential to increase the number and scope of opportunities to get what they want quickly, at their convenience, and with some app-enabled payment is everything they hope for. How will the Ubering of commerce meet this demand, and how will it convince late-adaptors that this is what they’ve always wanted? Most importantly, who’s going to come up with the next ground-shifting application that caters to this demand?

 

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