by Larry Vaughn
Massive disruption is coming to every industry. Are you going to cause it, or fall victim to it? There are now more mobile devices than people on earth. By 2017 there will nearly be 1.4 mobile devices per person meaning 10 billion devices. This means huge challenges for business. Yours can lead the charge, follow the change, or be left behind. But, turbulent times bring huge opportunities as well. Thought leaders are looking at their products and services and asking some very important questions to seek disruptive innovation: What else can our products be used for?, Who else could use our products?, What capabilities do our customers most want or need? What else can we provide with minimal change?
In the past, business disruption was fairly rare, but now it is a reality that companies face on a regular basis. In fact, we usually have several applications in planning or under development that have the potential to be game changers. It’s exciting to be on this end of changing how we live and work.
In Discovery sessions with clients we strive to help them identify their Unique Value Proposition and Minimum Viable Product. This helps them get to market as quickly and cost effectively as possible. But, what about those businesses who are already in the mainstream with a product that has been serving customers successfully? How can they possibly be disruptive and leap out ahead of the change?
There may be several approaches that could make sense, such as eliminating your industry’s persistent customer pain points, perhaps by making your products smart. What if you could replace a marine GPS that costs hundreds of dollars with a $10 iPad app that works better and has more functionality? Wouldn’t that disrupt an industry!
Mark J. Perry wrote about the McKinsey Report’s list of the 12 disruptive technologies that will transform life, business, and the global economy:
1. Mobile Internet
2. Automation of Knowledge Work
3. The Internet of Things
4. Cloud technology
5. Advanced robotics
6. Autonomous and Near-Autonomous Vehicles
7. Next-generation genomics
8. Energy storage
9. 3-D printing
10. Advanced materials
11. Advanced oil and gas exploration and recovery
12. Renewable energy
One of the best defenses to ensure your business is ahead of, or at least ready for disruptive innovation, is to reflect on how your industry conducts business, and what can be improved. ” I wonder what would happen if we . . .”. In the rental car business, the usual experience is a face-to-face interaction with a service agent, completing a lot of paperwork, and renting vehicles by the day.
What would happen to that business if you no longer needed to see the customer, you got rid of the paperwork, and you started renting cars by the hour? Well, you’d end up with something very much like Zipcar or Car2Go, where there’s no waiting in line, no papers to fill out, and no pressure to upgrade or add layers of different kinds of insurance. In fact, there’s no face-to-face interaction at all. Customers apply to become members and they reserve vehicles online.
So, what was the problem that the solution corrected? None for the business. And, that’s exactly the point. Most people in business are trained to focus only on problems. It’s more disruptive to start by identifying something in your business or industry that’s not necessarily a problem, and then go about methodically examining it. In this case it was removing pain points for the customer. Disruptive thinking processes usually start with the question, “How can this be made better?”