What do jet engines, transportation services and healthy baby bottoms have in common? To answer that I will flash back some weeks to when I rode a London taxi. During a pleasant drive the cabbie expressed his fears about Über killing the taxi industry. I asked him if he was not more worried about driverless cars? He fell silent after that. The episode made me realise how entrenched thought patterns can stop us from evolving. Let’s have a look at some evolved companies, and their secrets of success.

Rolls-Royce sells jet engines ‘by the hour’. The Rolls-Royce operations room assesses 4,000 jet engines’ performance around the world. The data collected enables Rolls-Royce to predict when engines are likely to fail, letting customers schedule engine changes efficiently. The result is fewer emergency repairs and fewer unhappy passengers. Data analysis also helps Rolls-Royce design and build more reliable engines or modify existing ones. The benefits are numerous for both Rolls-Royce and its customer.

Über wreaks similar havoc in the personal transportation market based on data. Combining events data with predictive algorithms Über anticipates when and where will be a surge in demand. Madonna concert in Maddison Square Garden? Über’s analytics predict the demand and ensure enough drivers are around at the right place and time at a competitive price. Customers are happy with the ample supply of cars and Über avoids costly infrastructure running idly. And one day they will substitute drivers with driverless cars.

The Honest Company, Jessica Alba’s brain child, delivers organic diapers as-a-subscription. Order an annual fill of diapers online and every month you get a fresh supply of diapers and wipes to keep your little darlings clean. The Honest Company enjoys a steady cash flow, valuable customer insights and a direct relationship. All at the fraction of the cost a traditional FMCG company would, when they sell diapers per box.

The three examples above appear in wildly different industries, yet all seem to thrive by data and analytics. Need more convincing? Look at Amazon disrupting book stores and now the IT storage market, or iTunes and Spotify the music business, Netflix the movie business and Office365 the software licensing business. Or more niche example like Hot Sauce Club, Outfittery and Vinoa offering their products online as-a-service, or Jukely a ticketing service as a subscription.

The opportunity to sell as-a-service instead as-a-product is there. A BMW 3i is sold including usage of a long range Beamer for yearly holidays. So why would a car, computer or machines manufacturer not consider selling their products as-a-service, with fixed maintenance, recycling service and standard updates? Buy a Mac, vacuum cleaner or Audi for a six, nine or 12 year contract including fixed number of new models at predetermined dates. Add sensors and data analysis to ensure predictive maintenance and learning models to assure product improvements and customer experiences are refined.

I truly believe most products and services can be sold as-a-product or as a subscription, but it requires courage for a business to transform itself. And a firm grasp on data and analysis instruments to help achieve this goal. Just remember if your company is not evolving, somebody out there is probably disrupting or evolving your business model by creatively using data, analysis and lots of imagination.

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