Tag Archives: product

A Good Technology Lesson in Uber

I doubt that Uber is new to many people by now; if they haven’t used it they would have certainly heard about it.

In some circles I’ve been slow off the mark in my Uber experiences but in other circles I’m the one with experience.

To most people who use Uber they marvel at the ease, secure feeling and in most cases, cost (read on for my example recently).
These things are not lost on me but it is the use of technology that makes this incredible service wow me, especially when I am travelling for business overseas.

Two things with the technology/process flow that I love are:

1. Google Maps and other third party maps – I love it that Uber integrated Google Maps into the passenger user interface and allows integration for third party navigation apps such as Waze for the driver directions; they recognized that these apps are “best in class” and integrated them rather building more proprietary software (something a lot of companies get wrong and some right). As an aside, wasn’t Waze a smart acquisition by Google?

2. Driver and Destination – I love the fact that the driver does not know your destination until you are in the car and when he does it is automatically set as his destination with up to date crowd sourced traffic information guided by an app such as Waze.
On a recent trip to Mexico, this what I found this technology and process gave me:

Ease – two things stand out for me here: 1) you use the same app and same account settings as I do in Australia and 2) no language translation issues with the driver; the Uber driver didn’t speak English, I don’t speak Spanish but getting to right destination is not an issue since the driver has the address loaded into his system upon booking

Secure – no cash changing hands, can’t be ripped off; I tried to get a taxi from the hotel but he didn’t accept credit cards – also, knowing and seeing our route on the Uber large phone and my phone at the same time gave me piece of mind of where I was going

Cost – the taxi I tried to get quoted me $340 up front for my ride; my Uber cost was $190 (Mexican Pesos)
From booking to riding to paying the service sequence is pretty hard to fault and by using technology is the ultimate disruptor to the taxi industry.

If you were going to fault anything it is that it is “real time” only and you cannot book, although I have no doubt that will come.

The other thing people may fault is the surge in fees when demand is high but we can’t be too critical of this, it simply “supply and demand” pricing and this is commerce.

Not only has Uber disrupted the taxi industry, it has done it in a seamless way the world wide and especially in cities the size and density of Mexico City and São Paulo, it is an absolutely killer app.

And through the use of technology and the connected world, the world just keeps getting smaller.

1 Massive Difference From The 90’s


Who’s more annoying for the product & technology team in a tech/online company like carsales.com – a member of the executive team who knows little to nothing about developing product or one that knows something about it (or thinks they do)?

I’m in the latter group of this question having started as a software developer at the end of 1988 moving into the 90’s. I look at changes we need to make and get impatient on delivery times. I can’t help it. I think back to when I was developing and if I had something in front of me that could make a difference in the product, we just seemed to make it happen, “from go to whoa“.

The software life cycle for me went like this as I would:
— Scope the product;
— Develop the product;
— Test it;
— Document (in the code and for users, sometimes);
— Deploy the product into the release cycle; and
— Then support it (when a software release was made available).
I was in total control. We had over a dozen developers all with the same life cycle for changes big and small. We would do a new software release containing hundreds of changes twice a year. The end product was used by hundreds of dealers and thousands of users around Australia.

There are quite a few differences from the 90’s to now in software development but the number 1 difference has to be plainly and simply 1 thing:

The Internet

The rate of change, always available and number of users make the processes of the 90’s obsolete. Like today, we had thousands of features as well as integrations and dependencies throughout many products but 3 things we didn’t have to factor in were:

1. Code being pushed live multiple times per day – the quarterly release schedule that regularly got pushed to half yearly is long gone

2. 99.9% plus availability for users – we always had windows where we could bring the system down for a number of hours to fix or upgrade something

3. Having a scalable and reliable system and code base to handle millions of users and millions of actions per second not to mention hosting in “the cloud” – this adds complexity and cost, especially for disaster recovery which has to be a staple

We all take the Internet for granted and the change it has had on our lives.

Oh for the good old days of software development….

Work was great today, I did nothing

I feel I’ve been lucky in my professional career in that I’ve always enjoyed what I’ve done. I say lucky because not everyone enjoys their work.

It was always funny going to football training with guys from all walks of life to hear things like “work was great today, I did nothing” and “who wants to go out tonight, I’m taking a sickie tomorrow”. Gee I’m glad I never measured a successful day like that!
I was a software developer during my twenties and always differed from the majority of other developers I worked with in that I was usually the only footballer and I wasn’t into technology like the most of the others. I’m not into computers, games, newest technology, etc but I never had a problem getting to work on a Monday (well, there were a few Monday’s after Sunday football games that we a tad difficult).

In spite of not being a “tech head”, I really enjoyed being a software developer and in particular I loved two things:

1. Using software to solve commercial needs. I have always got a kick out of this above all else and still love providing solutions that provide value to business.

2. Creating something from scratch. I think it must be the way I’m wired as I loved developing something that would have my own stamp on it. I’m the same with houses. I’d much prefer to build than renovate.

I loved that as a developer I got a business need to improve, figure out how to improve it, build it, test it, implement it with the client and then support it.
In the 90’s as a developer you were responsible for practically the entire software development life cycle; I enjoyed it all except probably the documentation part. I liked documenting inside the code but this is where I was like any other developer – Why can’t the user just work it out?

Developing a product solution would become an obsession for me and it wasn’t uncommon for me to work through the night, rarely to meet a deadline but just because of these two loves.

My biggest problem with software development – Why don’t they all think like me?

At the end of the day we are all in control of enjoying our professions and I like seeing people enjoy what they do.