In business, most people don’t like disruption, and very few prepare for it in advance. The problem with this is that change is inevitable. Disruption is guaranteed and as someone with a lifetime in digital strategy, I’ve seen it play out time and time again.

But we’re blind to it … we choose to be ignorant when times are going well, and we ignore patterns as they repeat in front of us and glibly say it will “never happen to us”. I have to admit I’m guilty of the same phenomena, but I still don’t understand why we do it.

I have medical insurance, life insurance and home insurance as I recognise that these events in my life are not “what if” … but “when”. I hope I stay healthy, but the data says that’s unrealistic. If / when something happens, I want to know I’m in the best place possible to get fit and be able to continue serving my family and my broader mission. Of course, I actively try and stay healthy … but I can’t outrun every virus, bacteria and disease and I would be foolish to think otherwise.

Yet in business, we don’t observe the same logic. As an expert in digital strategy, I am spending more and more time in our new normal talking to people who had very healthy businesses that are now staring down the barrel of a gun and wondering what they can do. More surprisingly, this trend seems to be endemic. Its not just one person bands, its billion-dollar industries.

By way of example a company in the UK called “Go Outdoors” just went into administration. They offer products in camping, fishing, cycling etc. and I was a customer. The overall experience wasn’t great, but it was okay, and the pricing was on par. To put their decline into context, search volume online for the phrase “best camping tents 2020” is up over 1,000% due to the impact on people’s ability to travel.

1,000% INCREASE IN INTEREST AND YOU WENT BUST? This would be laughable if it didn’t mean 100’s of people unemployed.

I’m willing to bet there were compounding factors in supply chain and business fundamentals. But I’m also willing to bet that Go Outdoors didn’t have a solid digital strategy in place. In fact, I know that to be the case. I went there and bought waterproof boots for my kids, but never received targetted advertising for kid-friendly campsites. I purchased an outdoor gas stove, yet never received a text offering me 20% of camp meals.

This is segmentation 101 and stock in trade for anyone remotely engaged in digital strategy. It would have been a small investment of overall revenue, and Go Outdoors’ future would now be the polar opposite. Instead of dying, they would have thrived.

I’m writing this for one reason and one reason alone …

You are a bankruptcy waiting to happen if you’re not looking to the future and putting steps in place.

Look at the above as a cautionary tale and please, please don’t sit and think “well I’m in the services business so this doesn’t apply to me” or “I’m a one-man band, so this isn’t my issue.”

This story repeats itself time and time again. If you don’t see it, then ask someone who used to work at Toys R Us, Blockbuster or Nokia. If you can’t find them, go and study the fates of those who pioneered the railroad when Ford came around. Or better still, talk to those who still sell combustion engine cars in 5 years.

Technology Disrupts, you can’t escape it. But you can have one foot in the future and give yourself a war chest. Please don’t tell me it was all COVID. Yes, COVID accelerated the trend, but having and owning the customer relationship was vital, is vital and will always be vital.

Author

With a tech career that started before internet explorer was launched, I’m a technology focussed strategist with over 25 years at the forefront of technology disruption. Historically I’ve owned and managed agencies centred around Web and Mobile transformation helping B2B and B2C companies across the globe, from SME’s to Fortune 50.

Across the years I have been through 3 mass recessions and am putting the knowledge and experience of more difficult times to use to help businesses see what they have, what they need to succeed and how to bridge the two.