Learn to Localize Your Intelligence the Didi Chuxing Way

It seems Uberization is now the new order. Consequently, strange business models that defy the classroom postulations of business school pundits are springing forth in their droves as a result of this – bypassing or knocking down competitions and disrupting market spaces like no other time in the history of free market economies.

It’s like there is almost an app for anything and everything – from ordering and paying for marijuana to stimulating love-making for two adults down to driving home simple discipline into the brains of today’s erring teenagers. So you now find a company who just shows up in your market space, develops a cool simple app, cart away with your customers, and then send you packing, with your pant hanging straight down.

One company that’s at the fore-front of this market re-ordering is Uber. When it was rumored that Uber would be coming into Nigeria, some of my friends called me up and we started discussing the fears and opportunities for stakeholders. Of course, one of the fears anyone, maybe the fundamental nationalists or proponents of indegenization, in Nigeria would raise is that with this development, we sure are allowing foreigners to come and cash in and cash out of us as a nation, or that Uber will take up a large market share leaving smaller Nigerian firms struggling to compete for relevance and profitability.

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But really, how true is that? Well, I don’t know…and that’s not the bone of contention here. But have you heard of the company Didi Chuxing? An clear example of how to localize intelligence. It is one company that – maybe you are not aware of – is giving Uber China a good run for their money in the entire China market because of a concept I would call ‘localizing intelligence.’ Please Note: I didn’t say ‘localized intelligence.’

Didi Chuxing is a Chinese transportation network company established sometime in June 2012 with their head office situated in the city of Beijing. Just like Uber, it also provides vehicle and taxis for hire for over 40 China major cities via smartphone applications. As at February 2016, the company is said to be valued at $20 billion, but Uber China which started in 2015 but presumed to be more popular as a ‘global brand’ is valued at approximately $8 billion.

Because of the strong competition posed by Didi Chuxing, the CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, recently announced to the world that Uber as a company is losing over $1 billion annually on its Chinese operations to Didi Chuxing – that’s, a company that only operates in China.

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So what point am I trying to convey, you may ask? Very simple!

Sometimes to compete well and edge your business forward, you must learn how to localize your offering instead of striving to cover the whole stretch of the entire market. When I say ‘localize your offering’, I am actually referring to either in demography or in value chain or maybe both. And doing that requires you to adopt a different way of thinking and starts ‘localizing your intelligence.’

Sometimes in business, it helps to think small.

Didi Chuxing took the car hiring business in the Chinese market and established a thorough grip of it. As a matter of fact, if you visit their official website, everything there is written in Chinese not English. Why? They slice down their market and choose to stick there by communicating precisely in a way that is exclusive to their market.

That’s a key part of their strategy. Just the same way I advise you to think about your overall competition as you run your own business.

Assuming you are bothered about someone like Uber stealing your market and leaving you with nothing, and you know that you can’t compete with them on a large scale, why not just take an aspect of the value chain, perfect it, and beat them to it? Or why not just slice the market into profitable bits and pick a bit where you know you can edge yourself better than them and stick there? For example, why not just develop a car hiring business that caters only for the whole of Lekki residence rather than wanting to compete on a large scale for the entire Lagos state and then get stuck on the way?

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In business, you’ve also got to learn to localize your push for success. There is nothing wrong with that. Let’s not allow the media or societal expectations to force us to interpret the whole concept of BIG business to mean popularity or anything akin to that. The central idea is that if you can’t eat the whole elephant once, then slice it up and take a part of it and have yourself a feast.

In short, learn to localize your intelligence….QED!


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