Updated: Mar 25
Building on the foundations of various digital technologies, companies either had to integrate digital into their core business strategy or cease to exist. Let's review the decade of digital business disruption.
There is no digital strategy just strategy in a digital world ~ Bud Caddell
We are with Bud Caddell on this one. If the decade of 1998-2008 laid the foundation, the decade that followed from 2009-2019 was all about business disruption. By business disruption, we mean businesses as we knew it either ceased to exist or had to evolve or change in ways that integrated digital and technology into their core strategy.
Uberification of X
In 2009, Uber launched. With Uber anyone with a car willing to offer a ride could check-in to Uber’s driver side App. Once they checked-in, they would be connected to anyone looking for a ride. Both parties could see each other real time on a map. Uber didn’t own cars people did, it didn’t own maps Google did, it didn’t own email or messaging items Twilio did, and it didn’t own payment systems Braintree – A PayPal did.
Uber (or Uberification) focused on that last mile experience which enabled a frictionless connection of people around a common task. In a parallel world, AirBnB focused on connecting people with a place to rent with people looking for temporary stay like travelers. It ended up challenging the notion of how traditional hotels worked. Today, there are startups uberifying food, beauty, travel, health, home services, and others.
Marketplace, eCommerce, and Platform of X
Amazon’s Marketplace and its rise meant consumers were getting more and more comfortable with the notion of shopping online. Marketplace was a means of connecting buyers and sellers. By 2016, Amazon sold more batteries than Duracell online and as many diapers as Pampers. US eCommerce grew 15% in 2019 and legendary businesses like Blockbuster, Circuit City, and Toys R’Us went out of business. The Retail Store closings jumped 59% in 2019 compared to 2018.
Marketplaces grew into becoming Market Networks. Market Networks brought in multiple buyers and sellers within a context of a transaction. For example, Houzz connected interior designers and decors to home owners, Knot connected photographers, wedding location owners, flower decors, gift registry’s, ideas, and others in one App.
The most important concept that came out of this was the notion of Platforms. It wasn’t about creating everything yourself and outsmarting the competition but about creating a place for buyers and sellers to transact and start strategically owning assets.
Artificial Intelligence goes mainstream
In 2013, IBM’s Watson went mainstream. As the IBM’s marketing machinery humanized Watson and introduced it to the world, Google introduced driverless cars in 2014. Using a sophisticated set of hardware devices, artificial intelligence, and Google Maps these cars could see and recognize objects on the street, speed limits, traffic signals and auto navigate by themselves. Innovations started coming out the closets. AI could analyze x-rays and identify anomalies, it could pre-empt doctors about an impending disease, look at your DNA and tell you what to eat, and it could even get your tissue roll in the toilet before you knew you were out of it.
The explosion of Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT is the concept or ability of devices to talk to each other intelligently. They exchange data between themselves and now even make intelligent decisions.
In 2014, Amazon introduced Alexa alongside Echo – a device that sat on your kitchen counter, bedroom, or other areas quietly. You could then awaken it and give it instructions like set reminders. Powered by AI, Alexa could then translate that into actions. It also introduced Skills where people could Apps around Alexa. This then allowed companies to build integrated Smart Home solutions.
We could now ask Alexa to turn on lights, vacuum the house, lock the doors, roll up the window blinds and more. Alexa connected with respective devices and activated signals. Then came mobile payments. You could walk into a retail store place your phone near the credit-card reader and pay for a product. IoT began to permeate the consumer world. By 2015, IoT went mainstream.
The early beginnings of digital workers
In 2016, Sophia a humanoid – humans interviewed a human like Robot. She could see, hear, understand and respond to questions from human. The machines now began having seat at the table. Industrial world has robots like ANYMal which could inspect terrains in snow, wind, rain, and in other rugged conditions.
The mainstream media was beginning to give attention to robots. Separately, Robotic Process Automation or RPA – a concept wherein sophisticated computer programs that automated frequently performed human tasks began to take shape.
Tech of X
If you visited CES in 2019/2020, you would notice there is a tech of everything – AgingTech, InsurTech, RetailTech, SleepTech, SexTech, FinTech, FoodTech, HealthTech, and the list continues. The last known invention where hardware, software, and applications came together was in the form of Smartphones. The Tech of X concept is now looking to disrupt every business.
2016-2019 saw the first beginnings of “consumerization” of the enterprise. Many software programs, concepts, and experiences that were gaining prominence in the consumer world began to show up at work.
Companies repositioned themselves as “we are a tech company happened to be doing x“. Some companies focused on modernizing IT infrastructure, others set up digital and innovation departments, and few mandated next generation digital training for their entire staff. These initiatives fended off nervous investors for a while and the success rates of all these investments are questionable.
A decade of business disruption
If this post feels like a hodge-podge of all technologies that is precisely what is occurring in the industry. It is exciting for those who are prepared to ride the wave and scary for those are who not nimble to adapt and adopt the tsunami that is just about to hit the enterprises and mankind.