Thursday, May 5, 2016

Is Your Business at Risk of Disruption?

I've had my car for 10 years now, and it's about time to get a new car. I mentioned to somebody that this might be the last car I ever buy, and she wondered whether I wasn't expecting to live very long!

Far from it. But I seriously believe this might be the last car I ever buy. Why? Because in another 10 years, we will probably all be using shared self-driving cars rather than owning - or driving - our own car.

This idea might seem inconceivable, especially when you look at how important cars are now in our daily lives.


But that's just our world now, and it will be vastly different ten years from now.

After all, here are six technologies that didn't exist just ten years ago:


If all of that has come into our life in just 10 years, imagine what the next 10 years will bring!

How do you prepare for this future?

In my presentations and consulting work, clients often want to know what's ahead for their industry and their future.

Broadly, the world is becoming "Fast, Flat and Free". In other words:

  • Everything is moving faster than ever before
  • We've broken down hierarchies and barriers
  • Things that used to cost a lot now cost a lot less

If you want to know what could disrupt your business, look at the opposite of Fast, Flat and Free: Slow, Bumpy and Expensive. If you do anything that's slow, bumpy or expensive, beware!

Here are some examples:

1. Slow

Danger words (potential weaknesses): technical, complex, service

If your product or service is technical or complex, computers will be able to do it soon. This is happening in financial planning, where "robo-advice" is a looming threat to the established way of delivering financial advice.

In fact, if it's a service at all, it will first be outsourced, and then possibly even fully automated. We've seen this happen with travel agents, mortgage brokers, customer service, and many other service businesses.

2. Bumpy

Danger words: regulated, licensed, controlled, mandated

These words have protected businesses in the past, but now they are barriers to progress. The taxi industry, of course, is a well-known example. For a long time, it has been heavily regulated and licensed, so it was inevitable that somebody like Uber would come along. In many jurisdictions, Uber's legality is a grey area, but it won't be long before legislation catches up (It's happened already in the ACT).

3. Expensive

Danger words: up-front fees, delayed results, boring

If you provide an expensive service, customers will look for a way to find a more affordable alternative. You might have survived until now because it wasn't easy for them to look elsewhere, but now your competition is just one Google search away. And they are not only doing it cheaper; they are doing it better.

There are many, many examples in healthcare. For example, patients with heart conditions used to have to go to specialists regularly for ECGs and other expensive and intrusive tests. Now, they can use Alivecor: a small device attached to their iPhone that lets them do their own ECG - for about $1 a test.

Could any of this affect your business?

I know some businesses and industries that are sticking their head in the sand, pretending some of these changes won't affect them. But they will!

If you really want to future-proof your business, ask yourself:

"What do we do that's slow, bumpy or expensive?"

Then fix it! Isn't it better to disrupt it yourself rather than wait for a competitor to do it for you?


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