Hailing the future - Hailo CTO Rorie Devine interview

Urban travel app and service Uber has become part of the daily vernacular for digital transformation and disruption. Yet in an ever so English way, quietly growing into a significant rival to the San Francisco start-up is Hailo, currently an app for cabs. However, as its CTO explains, the Hailo business sees a longer and more diverse journey ahead of it beyond the humble cab.

Hailo and apps such as SpoonRocket, theTrainline.com, BloomThat and FancyHands are the business phenomena of today. The economy remains challenging. Disruptive organisations like the apps mentioned above are fast-growing businesses despite the recession. What CIO UK finds so interesting about them is that their core proposition is to either take away an unlikable task such as driving or cleaning, or to make a retail experience so much more pleasant and constructive. As a result these business are disrupting stalwart retailers, or as in the case of Hailo, reinvigorating a business that not too long ago looked unhealthy. All of a sudden cabs are increasingly relevant to those of us looking to shed the excessive cost of car ownership. This in turn will and is disrupting sectors such as oil production and insurance.

Founded in 2011 by former cab drivers, Hailo has expanded its service to include a wider range of private hire vehicles, which triggered a spate of vandalism to its offices by the very cab drivers it offers work to.

App-based business services are potentially disrupting the fabric of our society, which was first formed by the industrial revolution in this country and created large employers, trade unions, cities, and much more. All of this, as recently explored by The Economist, is under threat.

Rorie Devine was CTO of Betfair for four years. The fast-moving, exchange-based gambling site was part of a wave of internet firms that disrupted gambling, gaming and retailing. So it's no surprise to find Devine heading the technology leadership of Hailo.

"Hailo is nearest to Betfair for rapid growth, but it's been a huge shift," he says of the organisation he's been with since July 2013. "The world is going to variable- rather than fixed costs, and people are getting used to on-demand services," Devine says of how car travel is heading down the same route as Netflix. "So the cost effectiveness of the service we offer is amazing.

"It's officially the best funded start-up in Europe ever," Devine says of Hailo. We're sat in Hansom, a meeting room named after a format of cab. "This is like Betfair on steroids for hyper growth," he enthuses, comparing the two organisations. "We are in a different place in our maturity curve, which is all about growth, quality of service to both drivers and to passengers," he says of the youthful company.

For a business technology leader, even one with a pure online heritage, Hailo is an interesting change in direction as a business reliant on an app.

"Our website is a subsidiary of our app," explains Devine. "An app is a very different dynamic. The paradigm has shifted again as the mobile first world frames your relationship with your customer to be all-encompassing, and to be about short and sharp interactions. It's about simplicity and effectiveness, so you have to deliver a great service to your customers," he says. Adding that as people's lives become increasingly complex an app-based business service has to offer customers something that makes their lives better, which he believes increases the value of your service to the customer.

"It's harder to deliver a simple experience than a hard one. I've always been the person that likes to boil things down and clarify them.

"There are two different platforms, iOS and Android," Devine says tellingly of winners and losers in the mobile operating system battle.

1 2 Page 1
Page 1 of 2
Security vs. innovation: IT's trickiest balancing act