The 11 Sources of Disruption Every Company Must Monitor

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In the age of disruption, where do companies need to look in order to avoid being “blind-sided” by change?  One of the world’s top business futurists shows us where to look and the right questions to ask.

In the twenty-first century, every business must be ready for potential disruption.  Consider the case of a large telecommunications company working on its long-term strategy for wireless communications.  The company was understandably concerned about its future. A half-dozen new streaming TV services were in the process of being launched, and bandwidth-hungry online gaming platforms were quickly attracting scores of new industry players.  Possible regulatory actions seemed to be lurking around the corner, too.

Changes like these meant disruptions to the company’s existing business models, which hadn’t materially evolved since the dawn of the internet age.  As a result, the company worried that it might be facing an existential crisis.  To get in front of the risk, its senior leaders wanted to dispatch a cross-functional team to produce a three-year outlook analyzing which disruptive forces would affect the company and to what degree.  It was no simple effort. First, the leaders had to galvanize internal support.  At this company, any change to standard operations required lots of meetings, presentation decks, and explanations of concrete deliverables. Once they had buy-in and the cross-functional team was in place, they spent months researching the company’s competitive set, building financial models, and diving deeper into consumer electronics trends.

Finally, the team delivered on its mandate. A comprehensive three-year plan projected that new streaming platforms and online gaming would cause a drastic increase in bandwidth consumption, while newer connected gadgets — such as smartphones, watches, home exercise equipment, and security cameras — would see greater market penetration. It was a narrow vision that would take the company down a singular path focused only on streaming and consumer gadgets without considering other disruptive forces on the horizon.

The findings were hardly shocking. Streaming platforms, gaming, and gadgets were given.  But what about all the other...

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