You will be disrupted.
No business is immune. Disruption is a fact of life. It is not new, but it’s newest vehicle, digital, is infinitely more powerful.
Let’s start with a specific case – Amazon. Now, everyone knows Amazon sells products online. It is convenient, relatively fast and secure. It should be of no surprise that you can purchase a book from the retail disrupter.
Amazon selling books worldwide at the click of a mouse had an obvious negative impact on bookstores that have higher overhead costs, less exposure and limited space for inventory. Printers and publishers didn’t care because their services would still be needed.
Enter the e-book.
The electronic book requires no physical shipping, no printing; in fact, it doesn’t even require a publisher. When the e-book became common and self-publishing became virtually free, everything changed. Almost 50 per cent of all new books are now purchased in digital format. Amazon commands upward of two-thirds of the book selling business. The whole literature industry has been transformed.
You are going to be disrupted. The difference now is that, instead of an idea taking flight over a campaign of months or even years, digital technology makes it happen in a matter of days, hours, even minutes.
Businesses are under siege every day. Technology is not only the product, and it is not simply about communication, it is the culture of your business. And before you jump to social media to save you, understand that “digital” is more than posting pictures and brassy statements on Facebook. Digital affects your service delivery, your exposure, your brand and your operations.
Digital eliminates borders. Nigeria lags behind much of the world in its efforts to digitize communication. This will not always be so. Eventually, digitization will infiltrate the greater Nigerian business community and, as it has done in the United States, Russia, China, Japan and virtually every economically-developed nation, it will bring with it greater competition for consumer attention and money. With it will come new ideas that create disruptions to businesses. Your business will either embrace it or be bowled over by it.
Mark Knickrehm, Group Chief Executive, Accenture, USA, said that to succeed, business leaders must be able to balance existing capabilities with big-bet investments in entirely new digital business models. And they must be prepared to take risks with partners across industry borders”.
For all its trendy caché, disruption within your business leads to one of the major tenets of good business – diversification.
While the oil industry languishes over a single pricing structure and a standard foreign currency, industry investors can do little more than watch the pricing disruption happen and wait. Their lack of diversification handcuffs them.
Coca-Cola, which is also facing its own downturn due to a disruption, has begun a disruption of its own. Increasing concerns worldwide about obesity in children and general health concerns have led to Coca-Cola being vilified and sales revenues dropping sharply. In response, the soft drink giant has developed a line of fruit juice and milk. This response to the disruption of their revenues comes with a significant cost, but without doing so, Coca-Cola would likely see their revenues continue to erode.
So Coca-Cola purchased 40 per cent of shares in Chi Ltd, Nigeria’s largest juice producer. They plan to buy the remaining 60 per cent over the next three years as part of an over 17 billion USD, 10-year investment in southern Africa. This investment in diversification through disruption creates new revenues and enhances the value of the Coca-Cola brand in Nigeria and around the world. Now smaller juice companies in the country must battle the marketing pressure of one of the largest organizations in the world. So guess whose turn it is for a disruption. The same holds true for the dairy industry, as Coca-Cola becomes a major player there as well.
You have been disrupted. You can watch and wait, to your end. Success will come only in the form of disruption. You will adapt or die. Whether it is a new product, a new service, better efficiencies in your company, a marketing surprise or some external influence in your favor, disruption is key in this digitally enhanced business environment with lightning-fast adoption or rejection. Investment into a culture of innovation is mandatory to survive.
We have only scratched the surface, here. Watch for future posts in this series about how disrupters Uber, Wakanow and Jovago have snuck up on us; how iPod changed the face of disruption; what happens when disruption strikes your business; and how you can fight fire with fire.
My name is Stanislaus Martins. I am what I like to call the sweet blend of Marketing, Digital and Technology. I hate to write but I do it anyway because I know how important it is. I love to read. I am a photographer, I love whisky, I love to play around with emerging technologies. You can reach me directly via firstname.lastname@example.org
I currently work as Head of Digital at Insight, one of the biggest Marketing Communications Agency in West Africa.