Disruptions by their very nature are hard to predict but, for SMEs, it’s vital that you are aware that they will happen, and keep happening. This applies to any and all industries – as technology doesn’t discriminate. But with some insights and key industry factors you can at least better prepare yourself for when the tide hits.
The black swan theory or theory of black swan events is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight ~ Wiki
Digital technologies is where the biggest waves can be seen – this is nothing new and has been affecting businesses since the panic around Y2K. But in 2015/2016 and beyond, emerging apps, tools and systems are bringing with them very real challenges for SMEs, as well as some great opportunities if your organisation is set up optimally to leverage them.
What could the disruption be and how relevant is it to your organisation?
It’s not difficult to stay up to date with trends, but it’s how they might impact your business that can often be hard to determine.
Think about some of the latest developments around the world and they might already be affecting your business, or indirectly through your customers’:
Already having a massive impact on global transportation, 3D printing could further threaten up to 41% of air cargo and up to 37% of ocean container cargo shipments in the next few years due to fewer raw materials needing to be made and shipped.
In turn, this will also impact any company involved in manufacturing parts and accessories when organisations will simply start to download and print their own.
The best example, Uber taxi service has already caused a 65% decline in average trips by taxi in San Francisco where it was established. While the company has struggled through a few PR disasters, it’s still a trend that’s not going anywhere soon. What knock on effects could this be causing in the transportation sector?
Education shake up
Probably a slower burner than other trends, but relevant nonetheless, is the rising shift from traditional education routes to more agile and cost effective alternatives – known as MOOCS – Massive Open Online Courses that are disrupting the education landscape. Millennials are refusing to be crippled with thousands of dollars of debt for no guarantee of a good job at the end of it and are seeking more customised education pathways that can lead directly into the career they want to follow.
A knock on effect lies in the recruitment space where companies (Goldman Sachs are already pioneers) use online customised course content to train and bring on board new hires so that when they start in the role they are much better prepared.
Millennials’ buying preferences
We already know that millennials (born 1980 – early 2000s) research almost everything before they think about buying, but new research shows they also don’t care about trying and testing most things before making an online purchase – as long as they trust your company and they can return the product hassle free if it’s not right. E-Commerce providers need to be on board with this or they will soon start losing their customer base to more flexible retailers.
What will your response be?
Without even being able to identify the disruption you can already start preparing your response by equipping your organisation with the right tools, systems and processes. This involves optimising, tweaking and improving the way you run your business today so it can withstand the pressure when it finally comes – and it will!
Equipping yourself for digital disruption
- Are they integrated?
- Are they each performing an important task that no other system can do?
- Do they provide the data you need, when you need it?
- Is the data they provide real-time and accurate?
- Can they provide reliable business analytics easily?
- Do they help you to understand your customer and market better?
- Do they help you make confident, quick business decisions?
- Are they reliable?
- Can they grow with your organisation?
- Do they underpin your organisation’s strategy and vision for the future?
- Can they effectively handle Big Data, now and in the future?
- Can various departments and locations interact effectively through them to gain a whole picture view?
- Do they support you in providing excellent customer service?
- Are they automated wherever possible?
- Are they easily transferrable to other organisations or operations?
- Do they enhance your customer’s interaction with your business?
- Are they agile?
Unexpected events — ranging from extreme weather to product contamination — can easily disrupt businesses in today’s complex, interconnected global economy. The good news? A company can substantially increase its resilience by improving its ability to detect — and respond to — disruptions quickly.
More help when you need it…
Join us on October 15 for a free SME event to learn more about how you can overcome competition and optimise your potential. Blue Ocean Systems is hosting this free event to assist SMEs to:
1. Discover industry best practices and benchmarks for cost containment and productivity enhancement
2. Get the most out of a trim and lean workforce
3. Discover how your company can leverage government grants for local SMEs
Note: This story has also been adapted for publication in Steemit.