Disruptive Innovation is Coming. Is your business ready?

The World Economic Forum has predicted that soon, businesses will need to not only continuously innovate, but to innovatively disrupt themselves.

Rule 1 of business must be knowing how to stay ahead of your competition. We are told that we must continue to innovate products until their quality is unmatchable or produce a level of service that others find unreachable. Here in 2020, this isn’t enough. Not just are businesses required to disrupt their competitor, but also to disrupt themselves.

Disruptive Innovation refers to a breakthrough that creates a new market whilst disrupting the existing market, in its path, replacing established leading organisations and products. Innovation and disruption share similarities, such as they are both makers and builders. However, disruption literally uproots and changes a way of thinking, behaving and learning.

Innovation often signifies the breaks in established patterns that strike outside the conventional rules of the game, often caused by changes in technology, regulatory change or even unforeseen world events.

The arrival of Covid-19 is a prime example. In order to survive, businesses had no choice but to adapt to digitalisation and begin to offer their products and services online. For the consumers, the adaption to digital wasn’t too much of a jump. The age of owning items now seems unfashionable, as businesses follow in the footsteps of movies and music transferring to platforms such as Netflix and Spotify. However, in the eyes of some business owners, the pandemic meant a whole new innovative strategy was required near enough overnight. This was an obstacle we also felt at NIMA. Fashion weeks turned into business support programmes whilst Christmas campaign planning turned into damage limitation discussions. But we breathe, we strategise, we adjust, we innovate.

Some innovation over recent months will have well and truly disrupted its industry, resulting in new products, services and technologies remaining even once the pandemic blows over. Many of you will be seeing articles and discussions about the ‘new normal’. However, it is still unknown as to whether current changes in consumer buying behaviour, social habits, working practices or even culture will remain after lockdown.

Take the fashion industry, for example, Digital Fashion Weeks is now a trending topic after the entirety of Shanghai Fashion Week 2020 turned digital with immense success. They brought shows, live streams, ‘See Now, Buy Now’, and parties online in partnership with Alibaba Tmall in a consumer-facing push which reached 2.5 million views during the first three-hour opening session alone. Organisers have declared that digitalisation and virtual showrooms will play a large role in future fashion weeks, which supports the idea of innovative disruption uprooting and changing a way of thinking, behaving and learning. Some innovations seen in the fashion industry are certainly not a short-term fix and will have a long-term effect on how we browse, shop and experience fashion. The technology is in development, with fashion design schools such as Parsons and the Royal College of Art being well and truly on the ball by already integrating 3D digital design into the curriculum.

When discussing with clients their potential business models, the idea of disruptive innovation must be present. Clayton Christensen taught us about the importance of always having a new product or service in the pipeline. So, when that first innovative ground-breaking product begins to peak, we’re equipped with a second innovation to blow the socks off the customers and competitors.

The accelerating pace of life, combined with a sense of time compression and constant shifts in consumer behaviour, results in an organisation requiring the skills to nurture creativity and constantly innovate. Sounds tricky, doesn’t it? But we wouldn’t be working in business if we didn’t thrive on being kept on our toes, would we?

written by Lauren Dodds, Operations Manager.