Digital disruption is everywhere, with some companies claiming it as the secret to their success, and others blaming it for less than spectacular results. What this hides is the fact that digital disruption is far more than just a catchy buzz phrase. Like the technology that symbolizes it, digital disruption is one of the most powerful forces operating on the business landscape today. Leaders cannot hope to emerge unscathed if they ignore it.
One of the problems I’ve noticed when the theme of digital disruption comes up is a certain vagueness. But there is nothing vague about the fact that digital disruption will be putting 32% of revenue at risk by 2020 (if you don’t believe me, ask MIT). Or the fact that, since only 7% of companies surveyed by Gartner consider themselves truly digital, 93% risk losing a third of their business to disruptive competitors. These are hard figures, presented by internationally-acclaimed researchers. Not vague in the least.
As a marketer, I’ve observed first-hand how brands are struggling to engage with the digital world. Some established players – the large and the loaded – have been slow to lead or even take advantage of digital innovation, the also-rans in the world of digital apps and social customer service models. They have let their relationship with customers grow colder and more distant while smaller, smarter, friendlier competitors have muscled in. Where once pedigree reigned, familiarity has muscled in: customers want brands they can feel close to. Even B2B customers want suppliers who are just a tweet away.
Customers aren’t going to keep coming to big brands based on who they were – they will embrace or discard them based on who they are now. If you originated your product in 1925 but your 2015 support team hasn’t got the tools it needs to respond to customer needs in minutes, your customers will bid you adieu. Even if you are the market leader in your industry, you still could be one security breach away from disaster. Digital disruption is the force that can change your hoards of gold into bales of hay.
I’ve focused on the negative side. But there are also big opportunities – above all, the chance to transform your industry and leave your competition so far behind they will never catch up. Think of how Uber took over the taxi industry, or how Amazon – which would be barely old enough to drink if it were a person – now towers over all the centenarians of the retail sector. Such opportunities can be yours – but you have to be in the right shape to seize them.
A detailed and powerful explanation of just why business leaders need to make tackling disruption a priority can be found in this interview with 1E CEO Sumir Karayi. He sums up the key issues – and more importantly, provides a blueprint for what needs to be done. Watch it, and let me know what you think.