Digital Disruption is one of the Greatest Opportunities of the Century
Digital disruption is the renaissance of the 21st century. In the new world, where transformation has transcended life, change is inevitable. Digital forces have transitioned every business model, product development, and innovation. The economic age is the combination of new exponential technologies and value-based services. Basically, it is about making existing concepts and products easier, cheaper, accessible, faster, and more convenient with the use of technology. This creates massive opportunities for businesses to enter existing markets or create new possibilities.
The digital era is characterized by the disruption of traditional companies, the birth of a customer-centric market, and the innovation of value-added services and products. The classic examples are simpler to follow; horse carriages being replaced by vehicles, mobile phones taking over telephones, oil lamps being replaced by electric lights, and more lately CDs and DVDs being replaced by online streaming services. Digital disruption is essentially when innovation improves existing products and services or creates a new market that ultimately displaces incumbents.
In the next chapter of the digital age, some of the latest disruptive technologies in the process of innovation are :
- Blockchain: This electronic technology is a decentralized, shared database to record the transaction of digital assets like NFTs, cryptocurrencies, and other digital currencies. Blockchain is the latest "disruptive innovation" that can displace payments, cybersecurity, and fintech industries. It has the potential to create a new system of economic foundations. Other than being used as a ledger for bitcoins and cryptocurrency, now blockchain technology is being explored to enter new fields. It has found many practical applications in business operations and government works to make data collection and storage easier, more accurate, and secure.
- Cloud Computing Technology: The tech industry is in itself being disrupted and reborn as cloud software services emerge in the market. This technology gives users access to computing services through internet-connected devices. The availability of servers, databases, storage, software, analytics, and reports over the internet offers to remove the hardware costs. The burden of managing data centers with racks of servers and hard drives has been eliminated by most companies today.
- Artificial Intelligence: AI technology is the most disruptive innovation of this century. From unlocking our smartphones to putting our alarms, organizing schedules to predicting what to write in emails, it is infiltrating every part of human life as more and more businesses rely on its use. Some of its day-to-day applications are found in chatbots, navigation apps, structuring social media feeds, advertisements, face recognition in smartphones, voice-based smart devices like Alexa and Siri, self-driving cars, real-time risk analysis, etc. The demand for AI is fueled as businesses crave to automate processes to scale to new heights. But this is just the beginning for AI technologies as the future is anticipated to be more personalized and evolved.
- Virtual Reality and Metaverse: The concept that is revolutionizing the way digital experience is perceived and taking it up a notch higher is the virtual world of Metaverse. It is an open, shared platform of virtual worlds with three-dimensional spaces. Users can openly connect, interact and explore the content with other users. It requires the support of a VR device to bring the virtual universe into reality. Metaverse aims to provide a digital experience with the amalgamation of the real and virtual worlds and the 3D avatars of users. The concept is intriguing and exciting and shows promise in setting up nextgen trends.
Among other emerging disruptive technologies are Advanced Robotics, Genetically Modified Organisms, biotechnological human enhancements, etc. Digital disruption is coming to transform every industry and is not something that every company can afford to keep pace with.
Most transitions occur from major disruptions. But when disruptive forces emerge, they tend to revolutionize industries, create impact and add value to the customer experience. The recent introduction of Electric Vehicles to an otherwise saturated automobile market is a good example of digital disruption. Tesla or as many call it “the new iPhone”, is a hi-tech electric car that provides a unique digital experience to riders. It is not the first electric vehicle but the most advanced electric car with lithium batteries which makes it as good as the ICE vehicles (Internal Combustible Engine).
The core purpose of digital transformation is to increase convenience in our daily life. It seeks to provide an optimal customer experience. Let's take a look at how disruptive technology has transformed our lives in the past decade:
- Ride-sharing apps: The taxi business crumbled over the years with the emergence of cloud-based applications like Uber, Lyft, etc. These apps do not employ any driver or own any physical vehicles but connect the driver with a potential customer looking to take a ride. This mobile application has changed the way most millennials commute.
- Online Video Streaming Services: Online video streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Videos, etc. have replaced external storage devices like CDs, DVDs, etc. The on-demand movie library has threatened traditional cable and broadcasting services with a growing interest of over 222 million subscribers.
- Email: With the introduction of emails, the classic way of writing letters has disintegrated. Post offices have received a hard blow after people took to emailing services. After all, who would want to wait for days, when you can communicate at lightspeed?
- Hotel booking: Major booking platforms like Airbnb have transformed the way people rent accommodation worldwide. It helps house owners list their property for accommodation and allows travelers/guests to find a house away from home. The company does not physically own any property or employ any home-keeping staff. It uses new technology and business models to disrupt an existing booking market.
The change in technology has impacted old businesses over the years. However, these changes are not complex from a technical aspect. These initiatives tend to disrupt latent demand, leading to the creation of a new market or expanding existing markets thus creating more opportunities.
The younger generation today spends more time watching short reels on platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. This poses a threat to disrupting the classical form of video consumption like movies and daily soaps. The technological advancement is not very complex but more in line with the trends of fast consumption. While long-form content is still relevant, millennials today look to shorter videos as an instant dose of entertainment. This creates ample opportunities for entertainment businesses to revise their strategy and cater to an evolving market.
Digital disruption helps create more opportunities that are suitable for the current world scenario. Companies that are open to adapting to the ever-evolving world order can only survive disruption. An amazing example would be how Airbnb revised its business algorithm to stay relevant amid the declining travel industry after COVID-19. After government-issued travel bans, Airbnb was forced to lay off 25% of its workforce and cut down on other operating expenses. However, the company noticed a shift in customer booking trends. People were now avoiding international travel and staying in local places closer to home. The shift in customer behavior acted as an opportunity. The platform revised its algorithm to offer more local offerings and work-from-home locations. The domestic business of the company rose by 25% across the next quarter.
In the 20th century, Kodak cameras were one of the first to monopolize the mainstream market for cameras. But they failed to keep up with the changes and evolving demands of the customer. Slowly, digital cameras came in as the new fun gadget. Brands like Nikon, Sony, and Canon brought in better technology and marketing strategies. They introduced cameras as a need to hold on to life memories rather than a luxury. Kodak’s resistance to transforming and adapting to the changing market trends led to its bankruptcy in 2012.
While change cannot be controlled, companies can still maneuver to introduce new strategies, and technological advancements to provide unmatched customer experience. In the digital age, companies that cater to customer demands and keep the customer experience at the front of their marketing strategies can only thrive. Startups and new enterprises are exploring new ways to meet customers' demands and provide better service. Hence, digital disruption can only attack businesses that are averse to growth. Companies that are open to embracing it can benefit from disruption and explore new ways to succeed. It marks the shift in customer needs and therefore working towards it allows companies to cater to emerging trends, keep existing customers happy, and open up opportunities to acquire new customers.
Nav Thethi, Senior Manager, Web and Digital Experience at Hitachi Vantara, is an accomplished, customer-obsessed marketer. He has advanced marketing acumen for creating and designing unified digital experiences for large enterprises to engage with technology and business leaders by providing them with information for the purpose of advancing their adoption of specific products and solutions offerings. Loaded with a variety of technology and business experience of over 20 years across mid-to-large organizations combined with prestigious professional affiliations, Nav is capable to drive best-in-class digital strategy for global businesses to engagement with customers.