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David Mills
By David Mills on November 19, 2019

Protecting Your Company from Digital Disruption

(5 Minute Read)

What do Disney+ streaming, robotic automation and desktop video communication all have in common? We’re in an age of digital disruption. Entrepreneurs and savvy business owners alike are looking for competitive advantages and often find them in digital solutions. Your industry is no different with lots of disruption occurring now with even more to come in 2020.

What is Digital Disruption?

This is the effect of technology that changes the basic expectations and behaviors throughout our culture. Market disruption can cause whole industries to radically change and long-standing companies to disappear in very short periods of time.

An example of this is the extinction of video rental stores like Blockbuster because of the emergence of Netflix, and the ripple effect in which streaming services are replacing traditional cable services. There are many other examples. How about the emergence of LED lighting and what it has done to the traditional incandescent bulb market? Before your business “light goes out,” it’s important to understand how to protect your business. 

In a competitive market, even incremental improvements can tilt the scales of competitive advantage. In 2020, shifts in customer service, sales and automation are going to create fresh digital disruption.

When digital improvements align

It is important to understand that digital disruption occurs when multiple business elements align around a new economy of scale or efficiency. For example, Netflix’s ability to push out traditional video rental stores occurred as a result of cloud computing storage with media streaming capabilities plus e-commerce advances that allowed people to purchase media on their TVs en mass. Netflix model beat Blockbuster by providing the convenience of streaming at home. We are seeing convenience being a top disrupter with brands like Amazon and Instacart.

Digital disruption touches upon multiple systems within a business. It is not restricted just to digital or online changes.

Digital disruption doesn’t just change businesses, it changes the culture and forever shifts the market to new expectations.

The traditional separation between marketing, sales and customer service is also evaporating. We now see marketers doing much of the sales education, salespeople needing to learn how to use online marketing data, and customer service becoming a primary sales channel. Digital disruption creates ripple effects throughout industries and markets.

marketing does not equal visibility


Three disruptions you should we watching

1. Radical business transparency

Because of social media and online reviews, which many studies now report are trusted more than what people’s friends say, businesses have been forced into much greater transparency. Glassdoor reports on the employment experience, Yelp hosts complaints, and Facebook connects the entire journey of customers and their social networks. 

The online reviews that a business receives are making a big difference in whether people find your business—and if they trust you. You know the difference that just one negative review can make. 

One simple example of transparency is sharing about the people who work in your business. When we review company websites, we still find a fair number that fail to provide even limited information about the people who work there. Of course, many others do a great job of sharing who they are, and why they serve. 

Transparency means putting a human face on your business--after all, caring and passion can only come from people.  Transparency is not going away - it continues to create a competitive advantage.

In addition to reviews, people are looking for price transparency. While providing price lists is a common requirement, many businesses have become much more transparent about their pricing. This creates a challenge when considering how to market price without becoming just another commodity. Of course, a carefully constructed pricing structure will allow for options selections which can increase the bottom line. 

2. Automation is not just robots moving boxes

The purpose of robotic or communication automation is to reduce the number of tasks that people have to complete, so they can focus on higher order activities--say human interaction. Automation used to be just for the large enterprise, but it becoming more accessible. 

In the communications space, bots are helping customers find information, solve problems and make appointments or sales. 

Story Collaborative is just completing a fresh round of automation that will allow team members to focus on using their talents for customers, instead of simply completing rote tasks. 

Automation can touch a number of business systems, making them more efficient, and people more effective. 

->Learn about repetitive tasks that you can automate for marketing, sales or customer service.

3. Sales, marketing and customer service are colliding

What used to be treated as three completely separate silos--sales, marketing and customer service are overlapping in a way that is disrupting markets and providing some companies with a competitive advantage. The fact is that marketing now does much of the educational job that sales used to do, and customer service relies upon that education while it does some selling of its own.

Customer expectations have changed--people want to educate themselves, and wait to talk with a sales person until very late in their buying process. That means that serving customers with self-education options is a role that overlaps between these three areas of your business. After sale support and customer service, is often a re-education of the customer, and needs to be able to rely upon the same marketing-education resources used in the initial buying process. Educated customers are better customers.

This change is being driven by technology, which has disrupted the way that customers want to purchase. And it doesn’t matter that much whether they are B2B or B2C, or B2G customers. They are all being conditioned by their e-commerce and online buying experiences. 

marketing does not equal visibility

The best defense is a strong offense- start your own digital transformation

The best protection against digital disruption is for your business to undergo a digital transformation. Digital transformation is the way that businesses keep pace and insulate themselves from digital disruptions.

Digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to create new—or modify existing—business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements. (Salesforce)

Digital transformation follows the recognition that keeping pace is not an option, and that repositioning the company to align with current digital trends is the best way to stay in business. Like the change from video rental store to online streaming with Netflix (and now Disney+), businesses need to evaluate their customer service processes, their online presence and the way they reach and serve people. How people find your business online, the way they evaluate you based upon your digital media and reviews, and the way you use digital sales tools to help them complete their journey toward becoming a customer all need to be reviewed.

Why does marketing keep you invisible?

Published by David Mills November 19, 2019
David Mills