Digital disruption and the
changing workforce are
unleashing vast changes
across the global business
Ten years ago, probably no one saw the taxi or hotel businesses as ripe for innovation. On the surface, neither Uber nor Airbnb looks like a particularly threatening competitor. Neither owns vehicles or hotels. For each, innovation was almost entirely driven by technology and has revolutionized their respective industries. Each company’s ability to connect customers with transportation and lodging quicker, easier, and more efficiently than the old models has made Uber and Airbnb the “new normal” for consumers—and has massively disrupted existing competitors.
From established market leaders, to fast-growth startups, the impact of digital disruption is being felt at all levels of the business world. But what do we mean when we talk about digital disruption? Simply put, digital disruption is the change being wrought by the inexorable march of long-term trends: Moore’s law driving more powerful computing, faster networking, and cheaper storage. The effect of these changes is cumulative, with each successive innovation building upon the last. The pace of change accelerates over time. A short list of what’s impacting business today would start with the above and add cloud computing, big data, mobility, open-source software, in-memory computing, and the API economy.
These innovations have radically changed the playing field for businesses. Forrester’s James McQuivey describes this transformation: “The force of digital disruption doesn’t just reduce barriers, it obliterates them. This allows the disruptor to take new ideas…and rapidly pursue target customers at almost no cost and in the space of a few days, rather than years.”
It’s also worth pointing out that both Uber and Airbnb have created “platforms” that allow them to move into other lines of business, such as the UberEats food delivery service and Airbnb Neighborhoods travel guides.
Mergers, acquisitions and bankruptcies have changed the makeup of global corporations as we know them, while new entrants to every market threaten the very existence of incumbents.
The dynamic nature of business today is forcing companies to meet disruption and transformation head-on. Forward-thinking organizations are starting with a clean sheet of paper and rethinking their technology approach from scratch.
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