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Businesses IT

IT Departments Try To Avoid Getting "Ubered" 233

StewBeans writes: Fortune 500 companies and longstanding corporate giants are losing to startups that are born digital because they can't keep up or they refuse to acknowledge the ways that technology is changing both business and consumer preferences. Getting "Ubered" is now one of the biggest threats to traditional IT departments as the growing number of unicorns like Airbnb, Spotify, Square, and others take over the economy and win the hearts and minds of increasingly mobile, always-on consumers. In this article, nine tech leaders from large companies talk about how they have had to change their approach in order to keep pace and avoid getting disrupted by the next big thing around the corner.
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IT Departments Try To Avoid Getting "Ubered"

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  • Please, "Ubered", no. Not only no, and also no, but it sounds like a noise I once made in between too many bratwursts with too much mustard and too much sauerkraut, and way way way too much beer. I think the beer was lagered, which would make a sort of onomatopoetic sense, if it led to ubering.

    • by jafiwam ( 310805 )

      Please, "Ubered", no. Not only no, and also no, but it sounds like a noise I once made in between too many bratwursts with too much mustard and too much sauerkraut, and way way way too much beer. I think the beer was lagered, which would make a sort of onomatopoetic sense, if it led to ubering.

      Yes. The word is dumb. Using this particular one seems like a marketing campaign.

      Anyway, we already HAVE a term for this phenomena, "disruptive technology" and it's been around since the late 80's.

      Just because you fall for some marketing crap, doesn't mean the idea is new...

  • oh yeah, already been done.
  • by Iamthecheese ( 1264298 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @08:25PM (#50579393)
    Your company name gets verbed ONLY when it's both appropriate and a new word is necessary. You get verbed by popular consent. I'm not saying a massive advertising campaign won't do it, but it's damn hard to force a meme. Xerox. Jeep. Scotch tape. They were verbed because they offered something new. Google. Skype. They were verbed because so many people used their products. But even a massive advertising agency couldn't do it for, say, Bing. So what has Uber done to justify verbing? Sure it's shorter than, say, "out-innovated". But "Ubered"? It just sticks in my craw. No thanks. And take your viral marketing with you.
    • by cas2000 ( 148703 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @09:04PM (#50579637)

      what have they done?

      they've made people think that piecework and pushing all running expenses onto the worker is an acceptable way to hire people.

      their driver ranking system is also a great way of undermining worker solidarity.

      that's why MBA types love them - they've undone over 100 years of hard fought industrial struggle or, at least, in the process of doing so.

      they're also the ultimate parasitising middle-men.

    • by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @09:34PM (#50579787)

      But even a massive advertising agency couldn't do it for, say, Bing.

      I don't know...I had spicy tacos last night and took a giant Bing this morning. Then my Binging car wouldn't start so I had to walk to work, and wouldn't ya know it, I stepped in a big ol' pile of Bing.

      "BING! BING! BING!" I screamed, as I tried to scrape the Bing off my shoes. My boss, who is a total Binghole yelled at me for being late, so I told him to Bing off. I got fired and now I feel like Bing.

      • Hmmm ... poo Binging monkeys ... up Bing Creek without a paddle ... Bing for brains ...

        You may be onto something.

      • Bing as a verb is never going to work, as we already have the verb 'to binge', which would have the same written past tense as 'to Bing' and doesn't exactly have a great connotation.

        • by jafiwam ( 310805 )

          Bing as a verb is never going to work, as we already have the verb 'to binge', which would have the same written past tense as 'to Bing' and doesn't exactly have a great connotation.

          Past tense of "Bing" would be "Bung"

        • Context can help, but even if the sentences are the same, capitalization will show the difference. Article, book, and other media titles and also comic book interior text over-use capitalization, so context will matter there.
          I binged on your pizza. (That's okay)
          I Binged on your pizza. (Why would you ever?)
          Florida Man Binges On A Pizza (News titles almost always use present tense)
          Florida Man Admits He Binged On A Pizza (confusing, but the rule of man-bites-dog lets us know what the news is)
    • Curious here.....what exactly does "to jeep" mean as a verb?
      • Curious here.....what exactly does "to jeep" mean as a verb?

        Off-roading, mudding, camping, etc. Basically, going on an adventure/sporting trip. Its one of those things that some people who play in the big blue world enjoy doing. But this is Slashdot, so it's okay if you understand... (grin)

        • Curious here.....what exactly does "to jeep" mean as a verb?

          Off-roading, mudding, camping, etc. Basically, going on an adventure/sporting trip. Its one of those things that some people who play in the big blue world enjoy doing.

          But this is Slashdot, so it's okay if you ...don't... understand... (grin)

      • Jeeping? Off-roading is the term in my neck-of-the-woods. Maybe they meant they're a jeepster
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-G7-yLFmCQ [youtube.com]? Which also makes no damn sense either.

      • Curious here.....what exactly does "to jeep" mean as a verb?

        A jeep is a conveyance. To jeep is to convey... in a jeep

      • by robi5 ( 1261542 )

        Never heard of 'he jeeped' or 'he has jept' but for 'let's go jeeping' I found 163k hits when I Googled it.

    • So what has Uber done to justify verbing? Sure it's shorter than, say, "out-innovated". But "Ubered"?

      Not to mention that we already have a perfectly good stupid-fad-term for the phenomenon: disrupted.

  • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @08:32PM (#50579455) Journal
    The problem of traditional IT departments in large corporation is not getting "Ubered"; it's just a matter of having a large organization with all the bureaucracy that comes with it. Even Google struggles with that, as Sergei Brin lamented the other day. Also, I fail to see how Uber, Spotify and AirBnB are eating those IT departments' lunches. The businesses they serve, perhaps, but not those departments.

    And those tips from that Enterpriseprojects.com article? Empty buzzwords. "Leverage relationships with decision-makers", "Move at the speed of trust" (Really? Really?! What does that even mean), "If it ain’t broken, consider fixing it", "Use process as business accelerator". These are copied verbatim from the article, and if this is what the best and brightest CIOs in the bunsiess have to offer us, it is small wonder that the IT profession is in such a shite state. I've seen similar statements on a great many powerpoints, and they all failed to make one iota of difference. Yes, you CIO's are going to have to "shift the culture" in your departments, as you like to say. And yes, most of you are woefully unequipped for the task.
    • by khasim ( 1285 )

      The problem of traditional IT departments in large corporation is not getting "Ubered"; it's just a matter of having a large organization with all the bureaucracy that comes with it.

      Which does not seem to be addressed by any of the people in TFA.

      I see it as a manifestation of the The Dunningâ"Kruger effect. Those people got their positions NOT through creating something new and valuable but through relationships with other people.

      So, should they be worried about getting "Ubered"? If by "Ubered" you mea

      • The LAST thing I want is some idiot CIO trying to "fix" things that are not broken.

        Oh, that was: 7. If it ain’t broken, consider fixing it.

    • The problem of traditional IT departments in large corporation is not getting "Ubered"; it's just a matter of having a large organization with all the bureaucracy that comes with it. Even Google struggles with that, as Sergei Brin lamented the other day.

      I propose: "All Grue, and no Minions..."

    • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @11:35PM (#50580259)

      Well you explained it right there. "Best and brightest CIO" really isn't all that smart. When you're at the C level you are not supposed to have any idea whatsoever what the departments under you do, it's not your job anymore. At the C level you just cheer on your other C level colleagues and collect stock options and hope they pan out some day. The only thing you need to know as a CIO is how to suck up to the CEO and recommend anything Microsoft tells you to.

    • And those tips from that Enterpriseprojects.com article? Empty buzzwords.

      This. A thousand times, this.

      I thought I was having a brain aneurism when I read "move at the speed of trust". What is that? Some kind of lame-o version of Green Lantern's power?

      Then they pulled out the horrid "DevOps" cliche'. In reality those guys transitioned from a 40-year-old mainframe and software to something more modern. What's that you say? Your version control, integration, builds, and automated testing got faster?

    • by robi5 ( 1261542 )

      > And those tips from that Enterpriseprojects.com article? Empty buzzwords. "Leverage relationships with decision-makers", "Move at the speed of trust" (Really? Really?! What does that even mean), "If it ain’t broken, consider fixing it", "Use process as business accelerator". These are copied verbatim from the article, and if this is what the best and brightest CIOs in the bunsiess have to offer us, it is small wonder that the IT profession is in such a shite state.

      Exactly. Which is the very reaso

  • Next Big Thing? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @08:37PM (#50579493) Homepage

    Baring all the corporate jargon, the next big thing more often than not is quite simply a scam managed by venture capitalists and hedge fund managers to create the illusion of the 'next big internet company', pump it up to the biggest bubble possible and then sell it to gullible investors and pension funds (investment managers paid commissions to buy) and 'KABOOM', time for the 'next big thing' (they are not fucking around at all, those bubbles are at minimum hundreds of millions of dollars in size and quite a few end up in the billions range - all bullshit public relations and marketing). Seriously how many more of the dot bombs have to fail before people and investigatory agencies wake up and realise it is all mostly just a well orchestrated scam.

  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @08:45PM (#50579537)

    Then try not sucking at your job? Seriously, the reason that Uber has been successful vs traditional taxis is because taxi services suck. Their service tends to be sub optimal and they don't make use of modern technology to allow people to hail and pay for their ride. Uber does better in that regard, and so is popular. Cost really is secondary.

    Well, same shit with IT work. If you are "Mordoc the Preventer" then ya, you could well be subject to getting replaced with a service (or person) that better meets their needs. However if you stay on top of what your customers need (customers in this case being the people that call you for service) and try to improve things as you can, then you are more likely to be fine.

    I haven't been doing IT all that long, about 15 years now, but in that time I've seen what users need and expect change a lot as technology has changed. They still need and want IT, but what they want from them is different. The IT departments they bitch about are the ones who still think it is 1990 and refuse to update the way they do things.

    • Well, same shit with IT work. If you are "Mordoc the Preventer" then ya, you could well be subject to getting replaced with a service (or person) that better meets their needs.

      Sometimes preventing things is the right thing to do. I'm not saying the end users (referred to us "customers" by people who don't have to deal with them) never have good ideas, but they're outnumbered ten to one by the impossible, unworkable, dangerous and downright impossible.

      I haven't been doing IT all that long, about 15 years

  • by Joe Gillian ( 3683399 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @08:46PM (#50579549)

    What I think the article (really more of a short, buzzword-filled list) fails to address is that IT workers aren't leaving major, established corporations for "unicorns" for no reason. Most workers aren't going to give up seniority (and the perks that come with it like better pay and benefits) at a big company for a job at a startup for no reason other than because they can. In reality, it's probably that the startups are offering higher pay and better working conditions, thus giving workers a reason to leave.

    This honestly reminds me of where I work right now, where the management is stumped at why they keep having people quit when they have managers going around every night telling people how much they want to fire them and how at risk they are of losing their jobs.

    • Startups also lie to workers, telling them that the stock options are going to make them wealthy some day. You get better pay and better hours working at an established corporation.

  • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @08:48PM (#50579565)
    The issue is that monopolies like taxis get so focused on profits or whatever, that they forget they only get income from customers. With no competition, why should I treat my customers well?

    Also most companies are middle-men, so finding a way to cut out the middle man for a middle man company doesn't seem to make sense. Gas stations sell you fuel someone else refined, that someone else dug up. They "add value" in the middle, but are all middle men. So "Ubering" in the sense of more directly connecting the customer to the service or product is the opposite of the goal of most companies. Personally, I'd love it if the manufacturers were to make their products available directly. Order monthly subscriptions to Coca Cola and get what you want delivered directly to your house monthly. For a price near the wholesale price for the store. That's the ideal. Any store marking up 50% or 500% will never compete with that. But it doesn't happen.

    That's where Ubering comes in. When a company sees a need, and refuses to meet it.

    Don't be dicks, and you won't get Ubered.
    • monopolies like taxis

      Monopoly - a company or group having exclusive control over a commodity or service.
      Which one of the 400+ cab companies in New York has the monopoly?

      • It's not a monopoly, but a cartel is pretty close.

      • by vlad30 ( 44644 )

        monopolies like taxis

        Monopoly - a company or group having exclusive control over a commodity or service. Which one of the 400+ cab companies in New York has the monopoly?

        Whilst 400+ companies might be a monopoly in the strict sense it is due to regulation and barriers to entry I live in another country where taxi plates could cost as much as a nice house and using your credit card in any cab would incur flat $10 surcharge even if the amount was less getting a cab meant calling a cab company who had subcontracted drivers. If you used cabs often you would learn to get the phone numbers of the drivers in your area and this let you skip quite a few surcharges - sounds like uber

      • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
        http://www.nyc.gov/html/tlc [nyc.gov]

        Of which individual medallion holders are all members. Now, it's a government monopoly, self-regulated in coordination with all the medallion holders, but there is a single authority and a single set of all rules under which all operate. A monopoly. You are licensed by the TLC, or you don't operate. Uber tried to break that monopoly, and that's why there was an issue.
    • Economic progress is all about doing more with less. What these companies are really doing is automating middle management using economic theory. This is staring with relatively easy service based businesses. But on the other end you have companies like Valve that run with a very flat structure. It will be interesting to see what else people can come up with in more capital intensive or places with better defined tasks.

      • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
        Valve Ubered Gamestop and EB Games. They tried to play nicer, and so didn't make as big of a fuss about it, but I don't think anyone can cut them out, as they add some value (stored libraries and the like) at a minimal markup.
    • The problem with wholesalers bypassing retailers is that unless the wholesaler can get a direct market connection with the end consumers it is vulnerable to pressure from retailers that want to protect their own profit margins.

      I've heard cases where wholesalers that try to bypass retailers get boycotted out of the retail market.

    • The issue is that monopolies like taxis get so focused on profits or whatever, that they forget they only get income from customers. With no competition, why should I treat my customers well?

      Don't know what it's like where you are, but here taxis are relatively expensive because of the annual Taxi License fees that the state government charges. I can understand the taxi services getting upset when Uber drivers come in offering the same service but avoiding the license fees. The way to solve the problem isn't trying to restrict Uber's operations with new laws and court battles, it's dispensing with the Taxi License fees to make it an open market.

      • by mvdwege ( 243851 )

        The way to solve the problem isn't trying to restrict Uber's operations with new laws and court battles, it's dispensing with the Taxi License fees to make it an open market.

        Of course, the other solution is to stop the race to the bottom, and tell Uber that if they want to compete as a taxi service, they shall damn well play by the same rules as existing taxi services.

        • Of course, the other solution is to stop the race to the bottom, and tell Uber that if they want to compete as a taxi service, they shall damn well play by the same rules as existing taxi services.

          The problem is twofold. One, often the number of licenses is limited. But two, even when it isn't, all licensing does is prohibit competition and encourage evil. Let me explain. Why do we "need" taxi licensing? The argument is to protect the public safety. But licensed taxi drivers do assault people, etc., and yet in fact, the job is far more dangerous for the drivers than it is for the passengers. The drivers need protection, far more than the other way around! And taxi licenses don't protect anyone from a

          • by mvdwege ( 243851 )

            Riggght. Replace a regulated marketplace with a single middleman playing piece workers against each other is not a race to the bottom.

            I'm not even going to discuss this with you, you're an idiot.

            • Riggght. Replace a regulated marketplace with a single middleman playing piece workers against each other is not a race to the bottom.

              Who is planning to replace it? Uber exists alongside traditional taxi services. But if Uber did supplant them, then competitors to Uber would be able to spring up as rapidly as did Uber, by taking advantage of a legal landscape prepared for them by Uber. Therefore, you would not have a single middleman. But right now, you do have a single middleman; the state*, which grants (or does not grant) taxi licenses.

              * Or whatever local government is responsible for that

  • A lot of people have expressed some doubt as to what this word means. So let me explain it to you. Getting "Ubered" means that the old stupid company you work for has been made obsolete by a young forward looking company that is the epitome of the future of the global technology industry. Even though you will probably lose your job, you are secretly happy that this will finally give you the opportunity to realize your dreams of working for the company that "Ubered" you, even if it is just as a poorly pai

    • Getting "Ubered" means that the old stupid company you work for has been made obsolete by a young forward looking company that is the epitome of the future of the global technology industry.

      We used to call that "obsoleted".

      The dubious benefits of using "Ubered" instead of "obsoleted" are:

      (1) You will sound cool and tech savvy, since you are associating yourself with something cool and tech savvy (namely: Uber)
      (2) You will have formed an "in crowd" vs. "out crowd" discriminator so you can laugh at those who look at you "Like WTH, dude?" when you say it
      (3) You will have save 2 of 4 syllables

      If #3 seems that valuable to you, may I suggest you use the MMORPG term everyone uses for when your treasu

    • by jafiwam ( 310805 )

      A lot of people have expressed some doubt as to what this word means. So let me explain it to you. Getting "Ubered" means that the old stupid company you work for has been made obsolete by a young forward looking company that is the epitome of the future of the global technology industry. Even though you will probably lose your job, you are secretly happy that this will finally give you the opportunity to realize your dreams of working for the company that "Ubered" you, even if it is just as a poorly paid driving contractor with no benefits, it;s totally the best decision you've ever made.

      Getting "Ubered" basically means falling in love all over again. You don't care that your mistress is a criminal. You are willing to travel the ends of the earth to be with her, or at least vote for politicians who will change the law to make her innocent again.

      But most of all getting "Ubered" means not resisting this beautifully elegant idiom permeating the English language completely.

      You've been "Ubered" and you love it so much all you can think about is getting "Ubered" again and again.

      What you are describing is a "disruptive technology" and the term has been around for 30 years.

  • I thought the threat was "cloudification", not "uberification". The buzzwordification is confusificating me.

  • What did I just read?

  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @09:38PM (#50579809) Journal

    Come on.... I've worked in I.T. for almost 30 years now and the changes tend to happen incrementally, at a pace largely dependent on the release schedules of the vendors involved.

    I don't know of a single person in corporate I.T. who feels threatened by the potential of some "upstart" business model appearing out of nowhere and wiping out their job.

    If there's a single trend I would say "upset the apple cart" more than anything else for I.T. -- it would be cloud services. But even there, I.T. quickly got a handle on the concept and embraced it selectively in most cases, applying it where it added real value and ignoring it where it was just hype and buzzwords. It probably shifted the number of people doing server support towards the large data centers to an extent not seen since the microcomputer took off in the 80's -- but people with those skills still found places to work using those skills. And more recently, I've seen the cloud technologies begin to get "rolled back" into in-house solutions. For example, our company tried out CrashPlan for backups and put all of our mobile workers on cloud based backup with them. Worked well, but we eventually shifted to the "Enterprise" version of the product, where we run the CrashPlan servers internally and people back up to them over the Internet or any office LAN or wi-fi connection. Saves us money paying someone else for the storage space and gives us the ability to do a restore much more quickly, if needed.

    I know several pro photography people doing a similar thing with DropBox. They liked the service but when they really started using it heavily, realized uploads of huge batches of RAW photos was SLOW (partially because upload speeds to DropBox in the cloud are throttled). Now they're looking at alternatives like Transporter, where again, your mass storage is local, on site -- but it works like the cloud in the sense you can upload to it from anywhere.

    • by Asgard ( 60200 )

      where again, your mass storage is local, on site -- but it works like the cloud in the sense you can upload to it from anywhere.

      One of the prime benefits of backing to a cloud-provider instead of a local storage appliance is that a fire that takes out most of your desktops / laptops is is not also going to take out your backup storage farm.

      • So get both worlds by using both. Use your local storage applicance for speed, and have it back up to the cloud on it's own time.
    • I don't know of a single person in corporate I.T. who feels threatened by the potential of some "upstart" business model appearing out of nowhere and wiping out their job.

      Not only that, but I think most IT people I know would be pretty ambivalent if something did wipe out their job. Sure, it's hard to lose a job and have poor prospects, but on the other hand, most aren't exactly thrilled serving the role of "computer janitor". There's a high frequency of being yelled at, belittled, and being asked absolutely retarded questions.

      And you also spend so much time doing things that nobody should have to do. I don't mean "things that are so terrible that nobody should have to e

  • When I read the title, I thought that the article was going to be about the large number of people being hired away from large corporation to work at Uber...

  • First of all, fuck you. You have made way too much money by having access to the right decision makers to sell them on expensive ineffective bullshit. You have cushy jobs because you only need to actually work 2 hours a week since you have convinced management that the entire corporation cannot do anything with tablets or cellphones or bring your own device in the name of security. You have used the firewall to block everything productive or potentially disruptive to requiring your 'expertise' from the Inte
    • by MavEtJu ( 241979 )

      > You have outsourced your networking experts to foreign countries.

      "This is IP Soft, how can I help you?"

    • I don't think this is going to happen anytime soon, but I do hope that companies like Unisys crash and burn eventually.
  • Pretty sure Uber has "corporate IT."

    Will all "corporate IT" functions shift to managed services? Hell no. Managed services suck.

    If Uber achieves market domination, then Uber will suck, too.

  • by wisnoskij ( 1206448 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @11:10PM (#50580171) Homepage
    That is really not what Ubered is. These next big thing companies are not only different in that they are fast and lean and dynamic; Primarily they are different because instead of a corporate behemoth employing hundreds of thousands of people, one programming wiz and his friend just program an automated app. A corporate behemoth with departments and HR and thousands to millions of employees cannot ever compete with two guys and an automated app; and they cannot adapt into one. There is no way to avoid being ubered, you just have to hope that your entire corporation is not the next to be automated away with a few thousand lines of smart code. You might as well talk about shaking up a search results factory, where millions full of workers find and return results to internet searches in the hope of never getting ubered by Google.
  • and content-free

    Seriously, who writes this garbage pretending to be shit pretending to be I have no idea what.

  • I will chime in with the 'this is crap' crowd. Exactly which "Fortune 500 companies and longstanding corporate giants are losing to startups"?
  • We're not "Ubering" because we're more mobile. We're becoming more mobile because companies are being Ubered. This is not an effect, this is a cause. Companies are Ubering because that way they can eliminate pensions, benefits, salaries, wages, and even the employees - Uber, for the uber example, plans on replacing all those "contractors" with robot cars. That means: all taxi drivers, gone. All Uber drivers, gone. Net result: the "inevitable" funneling of all profits to the owners and to Wall Street. The co

  • In the case of Uber, have the conventional taxi companies offer a similar service. That means where there isn't a conventional taxi available, then the trip is offered to the on-line drivers.

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