Disruption has become something of a catchphrase in business circles. While technology has democratised access to everything, it has also created an upheaval of sorts. It has changed everything, from how we think, behave, do business, learn and go about our day-to-day activities.
Prof Clay Christensen of Harvard Business School defines this disruption as ‘the innovators dilemma’.
There are numerous examples of how technology has changed entire industries. Some of the most ‘disrupted’ industries are telecoms, media and the financial sector.
“Every year we create eight million new songs, two million new books, 182 billion tweets and 400,000 new products. Many refer to this as the fourth industrial revolution. And it is set to fundamentally shift the way we work and play. This is truly the age of the Internet of Everything,” said Bob Collymore, CEO, Safaricom at a public lecture at the United States International University – USIU-Africa.
Disruption is proving inevitable which makes its adoption hard to ignore. However, it needs to be organised. Entrepreneurs and corporates alike need to ask themselves two questions – first, is their sector facing unpredictable change? And second, how much control do they have over that change?
“Your reaction within the first seconds of the big bang is critical because the change comes quickly and silently. You either transform or you die,” Mr Collymore said.
According to NewVantage Partners, nearly half of the world’s top CEOs believe that their firms are at risk of technological disruption in the coming decade. This is because digital technology has become integrated into every aspect of today’s company regardless of the industry.
Mark Zuckerberg, the 33-year-old Facebook is more than just a tech whiz. He has the wisdom to realise that technology and data are our most important resources. He once said that “If we don’t create the thing that kills Facebook, someone else will”.
Access to data and the understanding of how it translates to the benefit of your company gives the firm a competitive advantage. According to Mr Collymore, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, 3D printing and new FinTech models are all leveraging on disruption to create a new way of living.
“I can almost guarantee very few of us have ever studied or prepared for any of these digital disruptions that are happening today,” says Mr Collymore
Which is why a huge percentage of the workforce and even managers are struggling to embrace the changes technology throws at them. This was evident from a recent EY study that found that 90 per cent of executives are facing increased competition from companies that are quicker to embrace digital disruption.
Disruption doesn’t wait for you to get ready, you can read the signs and use them to position yourself. In 1994 an entrepreneur named Jeff Bezos founded an online bookstore from his garage in Seattle. Amazon went on reinvent the concept of shopping.
“The truth is we can’t really anticipate what is going to happen. What we can do is to create the right individuals and businesses that can succeed in this era of change,” says Mr Collymore.