All around the world, traditional industries are being disrupted as technology drives forward change at considerable speed. You don’t need to look far to see the change; in fact, we’re surrounded by it. We now carry more computing power in our pockets than the entire team at NASA had when they put two men on the moon.
As technology becomes more ingrained in our daily lives, the way we live is fundamentally changing. For the business world, young, dynamic start-ups are harnessing the power of digital to throw traditional industries into jeopardy. While consumers have become accustomed to the benefits of technology, industry is still very much at the start of what we call ‘digital transformation.’
The Wild West is here once more – the rules have changed and with it the way businesses function. As some struggle and others flourish, we must ask ourselves: is crisis necessary for digital transformation?
An Uber Revolution
In a little over five years, Uber has transformed an entire industry and grown to a valuation of more than $50bn. Not too shabby. The customers are leading the way as the demand for technology encourages digital transformation. In what has become a classic case study, we can see first-hand the success of disruptive technology that has redefined how the world travels. And yet, while the Uber camp feasts, London’s famous black cabs face famine.
In this case, digital is at the core of Uber’s success story, and, ironically, at the heart of the cabbies failure. Strikes and protests sought to bring Uber to gridlock, and for a while it looked as if the wheels may screech to a halt. London’s High Court ruling a little over a month ago that Uber can operate in its current form put any doubts to bed: Uber is here to stay.
In a long-overdue response, London’s black cabs have finalised plans to accept contactless payments and credit cards in all their vehicles, but is it too little too late? It’s no question the entire industry has been brought to its knees. Uber has found a cheaper, easier, smarter and more successful business model with digital at its core. With the click of a button, users know the name of their driver, what car will be coming and how much the ride will cost. It’s this humanisation and personalisation, combined with the digital that makes Uber such a force to be reckoned with. Other brands must take note, sooner rather than later.
The Future of Digital Finance
Former Barclays CEO Antony Jenkins recently made headlines when he declared that, “Over the next ten years we will see a number of very significant disruptions in financial services – let’s call them Uber moments.” For a sector that has remained largely unchanged for many decades, digital has the potential to spark an ‘Uberisation’ across the industry.
Various sheriffs are riding onto the scene, as digital-only banks like Atom look to rewrite the rules of traditional banking. With deep pockets, Atom seems poised to disrupt the way we bank, how we pay and whether or not we even need physical branches anymore. All of this technology is great, but the real test of success will hinge on the bank’s ability to humanise its approach. After all, technology should be used as an enabler to make our lives easier and more human, not as the saviour of everything we do.
The Journey Begins
So how can businesses of all sizes harness the power of digital and effect their own transformation? At Organic, we recognise that technology is at the forefront of everything we do, but we cannot afford to lose sight of the guiding force that steers the ship: us. Without humanising technology, digital runs the risk of becoming faceless and emotionless. It’s important to recognise that digital still has a long way to go; companies must saddle up now or risk missing the digital transformation Gold Rush altogether. Crises will continue to drive change and progress, but adept brands will adapt long before being forced to react. The key to digital transformation lies in leading the direction of change, rather than reacting last minute to the advances of others.
The human race has been building houses for tens of thousands of years, but we’ve only fully immersed ourselves in digital waters within the last twenty years. This point is important: we have a tendency to lose ourselves in the moment and not see the big picture. Digital transformation – if we have to call it that – is just beginning, and for brands and companies that want to not just survive, but excel in the 21st Century, more efforts must be made to change where, how and what we do. Don’t wait for crisis, or at least be ready when yours comes.