Disruption is happening. No point disputing that. And yet while companies are aware it’s happening, two years or more tend to pass before they react.
At least that’s the view of Kai Riemer, chair of the digital disruption research group at the University of Sydney Business School, speaking at the digital disruption conference Daze of Disruption in Sydney this morning.
Quoting research conducted in collaboration with software company Capgemini, 74 per cent of companies only react to digital disruption two years later.
“About three quarters of incumbent businesses in any industry only react to that form of disruption two years or later after it actually happens,” he said. That doesn’t mean businesses are just sitting around on their arses doing nothing though. Rather sometimes it’s hard to see who are the disrupters in the market.
Pulling the example of Apple’s iPhone, Riemer explained how no one could have predicted at the time how much of impact that small piece of tech was going to create.
Back in the day, it was considered a “bad phone”, said Riemer because it didn’t make sense. And it was largely dismissed.
“From a Nokia point of view, this is just a bad phone,” he said. “But also from a Blackberry point of view, how were you supposed to do messenger on this thing, it didn’t even have a keyboard. So a keyboard on the screen is much inferior to a physical keyboard.”
“But that was not the point,” he continued. “What this thing unleashed is a fundamental change in the way in which we view software, the way in which we communicate…it changed meetings, it changed music, it changed the way we communicated with each other.
“And that change is much more profound than just the technology.”
Disruptive technology such as the iPhone isn’t brought about by solving a problem or addressing a customer’s pain point.
When the Apple Smartwatch was suggested many wondered why they would need one when it doesn’t do anything different, explained Riemer. People asked what problem did it solve.
“That’s not the point. The point is that these things allow us to do things that haven’t been done before. They’re not about doing something better or solving the problem…they’re about inventing futures,” he said.