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Surviving the business of disruption

May 25 2016 06:00
Carin Smith

Cape Town - It is important for companies to be aware of the disruptions currently at work in the business world in order to shift the way they approach the workplace, trend analyst Dion Chang, founder of Flux Trends, said on Tuesday.

He was the guest speaker at a networking event hosted by the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID).

"There has been a lot of disruption in the business world - especially over the past five years," said Chang. "The biggest threat to companies is to be sidelined by not being aware of changes during this so-called 'time of chaos', where the only pattern seems to be that there is no pattern."

Chang emphasised that he remains an optimist and can see the incredible creative impact of this business of disruption, which creates many opportunities.

The first characteristic of the current era he pointed out is the collapse of the value chain - effectively eliminating the middle man.

"Companies should, therefore, be very aware of where they sit on their value chain and where the biggest threats to their position will be coming from," said Chang.

Another trend is the so-called "lengthening of the omni-channel" so that a business does not know anymore where a customer is interacting with its brand. Therefore, it is very important for the brand message to be consistent throughout.

The impact of robotics is another disrupting trend.

"What will happen to jobs because of this trend? There are even robot financial advisers and it is estimated that $21bn has been invested in the US by using an algorithm," said Chang. "Interacting with 'service bots' is another trend."

READ: 10 trends that will drive the next revolution

The fourth disruptive trend he raised is the death of legacy companies as opposed to the lifespan of new agile start-ups being about 15 years.

"It is important to understand the mega-trends that kick-started the disruptions. We are at a crossroads where one really does not know where it will go," said Chang.

Social media is one of these mega-trends, having a ripple effect on the young workforce and leading to individualism or "the power of one".

"The happily disruptive consumer wants to have seamless user experiences and ... everything has to be delivered on demand," explained Chang.

In his view the current "war zones" in the disruptive economy include trends like mobile first - you have three seconds to stop a user from scrolling on; hybrid business models in retail, e-commerce and social media; the automotive industry (a quarter of a car can now exist of software); financial services and data-driven agriculture.

His advice to anticipate disruption is to be agile, lean, mean and responsive organisations.

"You need to solve a problem - like Uber did. Be solution driven. Your marketing manager would probably do better if he or she is an Instagrammer," said Chang.

"Also budget for failure - dip into and test lots of things. It is no longer about big companies versus small companies, but about the fast and the slow."

ALSO READ: Top 8 retail trends in SA


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