Is your business or industry being disrupted? In this video, I give you 3 signs that may indicated that your business or industry may be experiencing or is already experiencing disruptions.
Sign #1: Nothing has changed in the last decade or so
One sure sign that an industry or even your business will be disrupted is when nothing has changed in how you operate and serve customers in years. You offer the same solutions to your customers. Things remain the same merely because it’s how it’s always been done. There is no significant technological innovation—and if there were, it may be underutilised.
It’s a bad thing when you’re stuck in the same routine, year in and year out. Things need to move along. If it doesn’t, someone will see it as an opportunity to make changes, provide better solutions, and take your customers away from you.
Think about how Stripe, an online payment processing and commerce solutions has disrupted payment processing. The problem with payment processing isn’t on the financial side of things—instead, it’s in the set up. It’s difficult for most businesses, especially small businesses to set it up. Stripe changed things by offering a solution that was easier and more cost-effective for many companies to adopt. The set up doesn’t require advanced technical knowledge—a big plus for small businesses who may not have the manpower or skillset needed for set up complexities. Perhaps an even more important feature is that Stripe allows businesses to customise every process of their online payment experience to suit the business’s needs.
Sign #2: Unhappy, restless customers (expensive and inconvenient solutions to problems)
Are your customers unhappy? Are the products and services you offer expensive? Is it inconvenient for your customers to purchase your products and services? Do they often complain about your products, how you deliver solutions, or your aftermarket services?
Here are signs that your customers may be unhappy:
- Your product and service solutions your provide do not fully address customer needs
- Your customers are merely putting up with inconvenience because it is the only solution available in the current marketplace.
Even if they continue to buy your products, customers may not fully trust the current system. How could they not be when they don’t feel that their needs are being served or that the industry is doing anything to improve how it resolves their needs? But once they find a better solution, they will jump ship.
Take how Canva, the free-to-use online graphic design tool, has taken the world by storm by making design tools accessible to all. Small businesses with limited labour and limited team skillsets can use pre-designed templates for their marketing and communication. They have a design template for almost anything. The best part is that nobody needs special skills to use it. It’s intuitive enough for anyone who can type and choose colours to use.
Sign #3: Changing consumer lifestyles
Changing lifestyles mean changing needs—whether it’s how people eat, work, travel, or sleep. And when people change routines, they change the tools they use, the things they buy, and they discard the things they no longer need.
Think about how people learn new skills and information these days. They can browse through blogs or videos on YouTube. Even Instagram and TikTok have educational content. Schools and universities no longer have monopoly on learning. If people want to get certifications, they can pay for a fraction of a university tuition fees and enrol in Udemy or Coursera, where they can choose which courses to take.
Needs also shift when remote work become the norm rather than an exception. It particularly impacts the businesses that operate in an office’s vicinity because of reduced food traffic. Think about how it impacts restaurants and cafes in business districts. And don’t just think of disruptions in a major scale. Shifts don’t just occur in the global or national economies—they also occur right down in local communities.
What can we learn from Stripe, Canva, and massive online open course providers? It’s that there is opportunity when customers feel that they are underserved or inconvenienced. These opportunities are signs that a business or industry will be disrupted. And these opportunities explain why businesses should work on improving how they do business, developing their products and services, and not settling for what works right now—because what works right now might not work 5-10 years down the road. Understanding these opportunities and tapping into them is where your business needs to survive and thrive in the future.