The Festival of Growth: Disruptive Business

In today’s changing world, the tried and tested has been left behind. While technological developments impact the way in which we live our day-to-day lives, the techniques that businesses use to succeed in their respective markets has changed too. It's no longer sufficient to have a presence in your industry - now, you must adopt a disruptive approach in order to stand out.

At our recent Deloitte Private Fast 50 Festival of Growth, we hosted a panel around the concept of disruption, looking what it means for businesses, and the steps that brands in New Zealand have taken to shake up conventions.

Attending were Amanda Gilmore, Country Manager for Uber, Brooke Roberts, CEO of investment platform Sharesies and Managing Director of HDT, Ian Garnett. All are experienced in taking a more innovative approach to their markets.

The concept of disruption isn't necessarily new - it emerged from Harvard professor Clayton Christensen's theory of 'disruptive innovation' over 20 years ago, referring to the way in which a challenger brand can spot opportunities that are being missed and rise to displace established, conventional brands.

While the concept was designed two decades ago, the influence of digital means that we’ve seen disruptive innovation spread across industries and markets at a rate previously unseen - whether it’s the battle of Uber versus standard taxis, or the way in which Amazon has grown to dominate online shopping.

So how do you disrupt successfully? The first step is to consider the needs of the people who will fuel your rise to the top. All three attendees at the panel said that their products weren’t just tested by their own team, but were put in the hands of users. The result was that they could identify what was needed for the products or services to be used intuitively.

The research period shouldn’t be hurried over either. While a disruptive product can soar in the market, first it takes time to identify the gaps that could be filled. Brooke Roberts of Sharesies emphasised this, describing their app’s production process as “six months of customer research, one year of beta testing.”

Following their initial global rise, Uber’s approach to the New Zealand market has been consciously adapted. Speaking on behalf of the company, Amanda Gilmore emphasised the importance they place on working with regulators, to avoid getting into any legal hot water as they take on traditional taxis. Gilmore says:

“You can go in and be disruptive from the beginning, using the stick approach of showing that customers want it, but the model we’ve shifted to is to bring in new innovations in partnership with the government, keeping them on side.”

Roberts also agreed that being considerate in working the market, rather than simply jumping in, was important, saying, “In the first few months, we were meeting with those at the top of the financial market, having them on side from the start.”

Finally, continuous digital innovation was named as the final step in disruption, and in maintaining momentum. All three panelists described their company’s ambitious plans for the future, from identifying opportunities in global markets to developing self-driving cars.

Reflecting on the panel, it was clear that disruption must be done carefully with a product that will truly resonate with the customers using it. It’s also not enough to create, then leave a product out in the market – to disrupt effectively, brands must continue to innovate, expand and make bold steps ahead.

14 December, 2018 by Jen Scouler, Business advice and strategy

Jen Scouler

Jen Scouler

Jen Scouler works in the Deloitte clients & marketing team across digital content and social media. She also works closely with Deloitte Private.

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