Three ways to stay ahead of digital disruption

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Today, digital technology is the primary agent of disruption, with various industries being ‘Uberised’ or a new ‘Airbnb’ emerging where least expected. Here we’ll share some useful tips for your business.


As Pierre Nanterme, CEO of Accenture said in January at the Davos World Economic Forum, " digital business models are the principal reason why just over half of the names of companies on the Fortune 500 have disappeared since the year 2000". 1


A driverless future disrupts the taxi industry


The much-referenced darling of disruption is undoubtedly Uber, the private car transportation system.

Key learnings


  1. Upcoming industry disruption isn’t always obvious so you have to stay vigilant.
  2. To stay ahead, continuously evaluate your business model, customer-facing processes and the innovation of others.
  3. Instead of protecting yourself from disruption, make the commitment to be the disruptor.


Powered by sophisticated technology and a focus on frictionless customer experience, Uber has become a multibillion dollar company inless than a decade.

But it's not just smart disruptive technology that has made Uber successful. The company is equally smart when it comes to re-inventing business models. Whether it's tapping into unused inventory in the form of private vehicles, or challenging what it sees as outmoded regulatory regimes, Uber is about shaking up transportation globally - with digital as the enabler.

And for Uber, its ride request app is a stepping stone to its goal of creating a total transportation revolution. CEO Travis Kalanick announced recently in a tweet that Uber expects its entire fleet to be autonomous by 2030 - something that’s already being piloted in Pittsburgh. 2

So with these big picture transformations going on around the world, what should New Zealand businesses be doing to tackle disruptive innovation?


3 questions to stay ahead of digital disruption

There are 3 widely recognised rules of thumb to consider when trying to assess if your business is ripe for digital disruption.

1. Are you stagnant and complacent?

Is your business cruising on past successes? The automotive industry was a classic for this: slow moving, un-responsive to customer needs and dismissive of start-ups.  

Consider these questions:

  • Are you innovating as effectively as possible?
  • Has creativity taken a back seat to simply maintaining things as they are today?
  • Do the big players think they are indestructible?
  • Are new entrants routinely dismissed as unviable or not a real threat?

What to do to stay ahead:

  • If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above, consider your own innovation strategy and how you’re actively driving value for your customers.
  • Review your product-to-market process and identify any barriers that are keeping you from being agile and adaptable to outside forces.
  • Look at your culture and how open you are to new technology, trying new ways of doing things and acting on input from your whole team. Do some research into design-led thinking - it’s a great way to generate new ideas and challenge your current thinking around organisational culture and strategy.

2. Do customers think you’re out of touch?

It's important to note that customer's pain points evolve over time. If you’re not evolving as well, their frustrations will have them looking for an alternative before long, which is why a large number of disruptive players get their start here.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you experiencing a high level of customer dissatisfaction?
  • Do you spend a lot of money on a customer call centre or channels which don't afford quick and painless issue resolution?
  • Have you lost customers because competitors understand them better?
  • Are your customer service systems out-of-date or disconnected so customers get stuck and annoyed trying to get in touch or resolve issues?

What to do to stay ahead:

  • Any ‘yes’ answers could open the door to a new player so consider how you can reinvent the customer experience to be the disruptor in your field. Using a customer journey map can be very helpful to spot any gaps in your offering.
  • Analyse your technology and systems to determine what needs an upgrade or overhaul.
  • Talk to front line staff to make sure you know about any customer challenges they’re struggling with
  • Look at your hiring and training programmes to ensure the customer always comes first.

3. Do you have a creaky business model?

Most successful, sustainable businesses constantly evaluate, re-invent and renew. They know that to stand still where digital is concerned, is to go backwards.

Ask these questions of your own business:

  • Have margins decreased on products or services?
  • Have revenue streams changed, been eaten away or disappeared altogether?
  • Are you being squeezed by new players who are using different rules?
  • Do you find it harder to attract and retain the best talent in your workforce?

What to do to stay ahead:

  • If you nodded when you read these, think about how to change the rules to benefit yourself.
  • Phase out the obsolete in favour of the innovative.
  • Surround yourself with people who can move your business forward, whether that’s a business mentor, hiring consultant, strategy consultant or financial advisor.


What’s next for you?

If you’d like to learn more about how digital technology can help your business thrive and stay ahead of digital disruption, get in touch.  




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