Staying ahead in an age of disruption

In a time where industries can be disrupted with the introduction of a single product or service, how do you keep your business on the forefront of change? Failure to move with the times can cripple businesses, so you need to be ready to adapt and embrace change. What you’re doing today isn’t necessarily going to be enough tomorrow – so put your best foot forward in a changing business landscape.

Don’t rest on your laurels

When it comes to the business world, you can’t afford to be complacent. Digital disruption is not a case of if but when. Television subscription services haven’t acknowledged the disruption that streaming services have had on their industry. Instead of being agile and looking forward, they increased prices and refused to move with the times. Today the majority of content we watch is streamed online and companies with outdated subscription models are failing. The lesson here is don’t let disruption come to you – jump ahead and challenge things first. Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon sums this up well, saying "The outside world can push you [out] if you won't or can't embrace powerful trends quickly - if you fight them, you're probably fighting the future. Embrace them and you have a tailwind."

Large technology companies are consistently embracing disruption by releasing technology that is far beyond what we see to be necessary now. It’s not always about creating something to succeed right now, it’s about planting ideas for the future. Technology is like a seed – you can plant it and it may grow at the time you need it to, sometimes it’s premature, and sometimes it’s too late. Think about what seeds you are planting – are you looking ahead and challenging your product so you’re in the right place tomorrow?

Experiment, innovate, disrupt

The best way embrace change is to experiment and investigate new ways to deliver your product. How could you solve the same problem in a completely different way? It’s important to continuously challenge your team, but also to foster an environment in which challenging the status quo is welcomed – and sometimes that means rewarding failure. The right environment and attitude will open up doors for your team to share their ideas and challenge assumptions. Set parameters for yourself so that it isn’t crippling to your business, and then encourage your team to experiment and innovate with everything they do. 

Self-disruption will drive your business forward

While many of these ideas began in large technology companies around the world, remember that you can scale for what your business requires. Enhancements don’t need to be ground-breaking, but you need to stay on top in a changing landscape. Look to competitors and international companies within and outside of your industry for inspiration on what they’re doing - and how you could do it better. 

At realestate.co.nz, we saw an opportunity within the growing market for voice search and the effect it could have on our product in the future. Currently there are over 1 billion voice searches conducted each month worldwide, and the prediction is that over 50% of all searches will be conducted by voice search by 2020. Giving our whole product is searching, this is a technology that will majorly disrupt our business. We chose to take the lead, building a new search bar that utilised natural language search to accommodate voice search. It was a perfect example of planting a seed that sprouted too early – when the software was released it was evident in feedback from our users that it was ahead of what they wanted right now. We scaled back our approach by giving users options for their search bar style, but have succeeded in creating a platform that will be voice search ready when the time is right. 

Consider the challenge

Soon you will talk to your home, your car and your phone, and it will be doing almost everything in your day to day life for you. You’ll ride to work in a driverless car, or you’ll use a holographic technology to have a presence in overseas business meetings. Whatever your business landscape requires, consider this - how will your product or service thrive or suffer in a world where emerging technology disrupts everything? 

Jai Ivarsson is realestate.co.nz’s Head of Product and Development. With experience working with successful start ups, Jai specialises in finding pragmatic solutions that allow for fast growth.

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