For decades companies have closely watched their direct competition to anticipate the development of their new products. Imagine your biggest competitor coming up with something revolutionary that you haven’t even researched yet, a nightmare!
Times have changed though. If we look at the past 10 years, almost every disruptive idea in every sector came from outside the industry, usually from the technology sector. The most iconic example of this is the moment when Steve Jobs announced the first iPhone in front of an audience containing dozens of executives from Nokia, Motorola and BlackBerry. They couldn’t believe their eyes.
Strangely enough, few companies took note of this disruption from outside the sector. They didn’t stop and think, “if it can happen to phone manufacturers, it can happen to us too…”, and went on with their business.
Then came the global economic crisis, which became the scapegoat of everything that went wrong over the next few years. This continued until the amount of disruption became so noticeable that it could no longer be ignored. Digital disruption started to spread to sectors like Print media, TV, Travel and HR. More and more start-ups began to emerge and everything became about mobile and platforms. Meanwhile technology players like Spotify, Netflix and Booking.com continued to gain market share, until their respective sectors began to panic.
Fast forward to today
Nowadays finance, retail, healthcare, food, automotive and many other sectors are getting serious pressure from new digital disruptions. Just think of the Lending Club, which cuts out banks as the middleman by facilitating peer-to-peer lending at much more attractive rates for both sides, founded by an ex-manager from Oracle. Many banks said: “people are never going to trust each other with loans like that”. It took 7 years and over $9 billion in loans for many of them to recognize this threat, don’t make their mistake.
The Lending Club is just one out of thousands of disruptive innovations, think of Self-driving cars, mobile shopping, fresh food delivery in subscription, cryptocurrency, health tracking apps, virtual reality,… These are all disruptive innovations that were invented outside their existing sectors.
And still, many companies are only looking at the evolutions inside their sector. They stick with industry events and only read news about their sector and that’s why they are missing out from their future competitors who mostly come from the technology sector.
We’re not just talking about start-ups, but also the big technology players. Did you know Google is in over 15 industries?
Where were you when you got disrupted?
When the CEO’s of Uber (Travis Kalanick) and Airbnb (Brian Chesky) were on stage at LeWeb in 2011, way before their companies became huge, there were very few taxi or travel companies to be seen, so they got bypassed in silence.
No matter what industry you’re working in, the disruptors at events like Le Web, The Next Web, SXSW and so many others are impacting or even reshaping your future. You better know what they are up to and look at attending at least one of these conferences.
Just attending a few events won’t cover everything though. Make sure you have at least a few people internally that are watching digital information sources like blogs, websites, books, etc. Here are a few to get started: techcrunch.com, theverge.com, recode.net, thenextweb.com, gigaom.com and others.
Become Digital First
If you want to go all in (which we recommend you do), then you need to revise your business strategy to become “Digital First”. Start using digital to create new business models and optimize all aspects of your business.
Ignoring the technology sector is no longer an option for any industry. No matter how B2B or low tech you are, you will be disrupted and you better see the disruptors coming and anticipate them. We can help you through our Digital Transformation Methodology and our book on Digital Transformation. Don’t wait until it is too late!