It was a warm sunny Sunday afternoon. Pranathi, our nine year old daughter asked for my permission to download Temple Run, a game she loved playing not so long ago till she discovered others. While playing, it occurred to me that what was unique about that game was that there really is no time when a player can rest or be distracted. Keep running, dodging, jumping, in short, keep moving in the right direction is the mantra. After losing to Pranathi, I couldn’t help but reflect on other pressing matters, such as my bruised ego and a Tweet I came across recently.
- Uber, the world’s largest taxi company owns no vehicle
- Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner creates no content
- Alibaba, the most valuable retailer has no inventory
- Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider owns no real estate
These businesses are threatening the very survival for many other large corporations and industries. Some, who are facing the heat from these almost new kids on the block are multi-billion dollar global giants, aged decades and in few cases, centuries.
In a way this is nothing new. Advancement of science and technology has been disrupting industries since the invention of the wheel. These changes were gradual. It took sometime for the consumers to accept and discard the old. It was incremental. In past the source of disruption often was from a related industry, an upgrade of sort.
This time it’s different, very different. The disruptors are not merely upgrading, such as from steam engine to diesel, but are ripping out business models. The disrupting companies are from completely unrelated industries. These are either started or led by people from entirely different backgrounds and had nothing to do with the industry they are disrupting. Few of these leaders have audacious goals – like wanting to change the way the world does certain things. These companies are heavily funded so there is no temptation to sell out. They are able to attract and retain the best of talent across the globe. The pace of disruption is incredibly rapid, many times giving almost no time for the incumbent to react.
Its only a matter of time before Alibaba, the e-commerce giant will start to disrupt banking. Apple, having disrupted several industries, is now eying the credit card business. Uber, having transformed the transportation is eying food delivery. When Google gets their self driven car to work, it will disrupt the automobile industry making most redundant.
At the heart of all these disruptors is the deep understanding of how to harness digital forces to develop entirely new business models to solve a large problem – a digital blue ocean of sort. The only way to survive this unprecedented onslaught is for the incumbents to embark on a journey to find their own blue ocean/s by transforming their business using digital forces.
Transformation is to re-look at the business or parts of it dispassionately to validate its relevance to customers. Making changes to remain or become relevant is the execution of transformation. The customer has to be at the heart of any transformation. If it does not impact the customers then it isn’t transformation. The word “dispassion” is critical as one tends to cling on to “what worked in the past” or “what got us to where we are today”. Are they relevant anymore to customers of today and possibly tomorrow?
Transformation is no longer an option, but the only way to survive. It is not a one off initiative. To survive and grow, organisations have to keep reinventing themselves to ensure they stay relevant to customers. There are several examples where even the disruptors have been disrupted by a new entrant, and yes, from an unrelated industry – ala what Apple did to BlackBerry – a disruptor not too long ago.
Hence, Enterprise Transformation journey is much like Temple Run. Its endless, the players have to keep running, dodging, jumping staying just ahead – else, the gorilla will get you!
Gorilla Image Credit: Tracey Saxby, IAN Image Library (ian.umces.edu/image/library/)