The service economy in the United States has taken off like a rocket. These days many of the transactions taking place between companies and consumers revolve around the exchange of services rather than products.
“The service industry” sounds like a fixed, monolithic entity. In reality, the diversification underneath this umbrella is astounding. And companies throughout the industry are constantly innovating within their respective markets.
Case in point: The five companies on this list are all part of the service industry. But they operate in different markets and impact consumers in different ways. The only thing they share in common? They’re acting in innovative ways and disrupting their respective markets.
Not only are these companies part of the service industry -- they’re also shaping its future. By extension, these and other companies like them are changing the way Americans live their lives.
Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, et al.
Yes, I realize this isn’t one single company. But social media sites should be recognized for their role in changing the service industry.
For starters, social media has facilitated the sale of a huge variety of services online. It’s also allowed companies to provide customer service in a new way.
Customers are increasingly turning to online outlets to share reviews, ask questions, and solicit feedback from brands that play a role in their lives. These interactions provide companies with an opportunity to learn more about their customers so they can better tailor their services to consumers’ needs. Furthermore, companies that respond to these queries in a prompt and helpful way can cultivate brand-loyal customers for life.
The personal finance industry doesn’t exactly have a reputation for innovation. Motif Investing is the exception that proves the rule. The company is making investments accessible to a broad segment of the population by creating an investment structure that is affordable and easy to understand.
Would-be investors can select any of the company’s 150 professionally built portfolios or customize their own. Users can also search by themes (aka “motifs”), trading strategies, or investment styles depending on their interests, risk profiles, timelines, and financial goals. It’s a fresh take on investing that’s opening up new possibilities for the way the personal finance industry operates.
If you’re a foodie (or a lover of food-related television), then you’re probably already familiar with noma. The restaurant has both driven innovations in the food industry and capitalized on them. Led by world-renowned chef René Redzepi, noma embodies the farm-to-table movement by utilizing local and wildly sourced ingredients, avoiding GMOs, and emphasizing quality at all costs. In the process, it’s put Nordic cuisine on the international map.
What makes noma really stand out is that its reputation for innovation has never wavered. The restaurant has always let its ingredients and dishes speak for themselves. That’s allowed it to avoid the “farm-to-table” marketing fatigue that has plagued other restaurants. It’s not that consumers don’t want this kind of fare—as demonstrated by noma’s ongoing success. It’s just that they’re sick of the label. But noma has never been about labels. It’s about high-quality food meticulously prepared.
This New-York-City-based concierge startup is a driving force behind an emerging trend. More and more individuals and companies are enlisting personalized service from concierge companies—and not just when they’re staying in a hotel. City CoPilot and other innovative concierge companies have moved these services beyond the hotel lobby.
Whether clients need assistance with luggage storage and delivery, package acceptance, airport transportation, finding discounted tickets to tours and attractions, or something else entirely, this new brand of concierge is here to make people’s lives easier at all times.
Uber has already transformed the service industry with its innovative approach to transportation. But the company isn’t stopping there. It’s now attempting to disrupt the food delivery market with UberEATS. It’s diving in even as investors’ interest in this market has shriveled up (thanks largely to saturation).
But Uber has a leg up on the competition. With more than 14,000 drivers in New York City alone, the company has more opportunities for distribution than any other business in the market. And thanks to their pre-existing name recognition, they’ve had an easy time identifying partners in the restaurant industry. It’s a winning combination that’s threatening even the companies that have long sat at the top of the food delivery chain.
The service industry entails a vast variety of services ranging from food delivery to digital investing tools. Still, these companies all share something in common. They’re innovating existing services and transforming the country’s economy in the process.