At the end of May each year, venture capitalist Mary Meeker delivers something of a treatise on digital disruption.

Year after year, her highly lauded Internet Trends Report serves as a warning siren to business leaders: keep up with the scale and pace of digital transformation, or suffer the consequences.

Digital disruption is unavoidable

And if you need proof, look no further than Kodak, Blackberry, Nokia, and Blockbuster. Who would have thought these icons of corporate success would have sunk so fast?

These days, digital disruption is even on our Government’s agenda.

“The changes enabled by digital technologies occur at a pace and magnitude that disrupt established ways of value creation, social interactions, doing business and, more generally, our thinking.” – Associate Professor Kai Reimer, The University of Sydney Business School

Digital disruption is here and now

Look at what’s happening to Weight Watchers even today. Its share price tanked in the wake of the Fitbit wearable tech revolution. Oprah Winfrey’s purchase of a 10% stake in the company in October may have inflated its sagging stock price. But it will take growth planning that embraces digital disruption to completely turn Weight Watchers around.

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Digital Disruption: Why 40% of Fortune 500 companies will be dead in 10 years

Digital disruption comes in many forms

It can happen at the industry level, or impact a business model or even a process, think about:

  • Amazon (publishing)
  • Apple and Spotify (music)
  • Uber (taxis)
  • Airbnb (hotels)
  • Xero (accounting)
  • Invoice2Go (invoicing)
  • Skype (long distance calls)
  • Apple Pay (mobile payments)

And we are still to see the full effect of 3D printing which has the potential to disrupt not just manufacturing, but a great number of industries.

The simple truth is that when your business gets disrupted (and it is when, not if) you’ll only survive if you already have plans in place to grow by disrupting yourself.

It’s no longer about bigger and better, or smaller and cuter. It’s about a radically different breed. And one that’s faster, simpler and cheaper.

Make no mistake, yesterday’s way of doing business just does not work in a digitally disrupted world.

Just because you can charge a premium today, doesn’t mean your margins won’t be squeezed tomorrow.

As Mike Tyson famously said

“Everyone has a plan ‘till they get punched in the mouth.”

Make sure when that punch comes, you don’t get caught flat footed.

photo credit: 09/04/2015 Week 12 Group A British Lionhearts vs Russian Boxing Team via photopin (license)

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