Two years ago, when I attended ADTECH ASEAN conference in Singapore, I was introduced to the phenomena of ‘disruptive technologies’. Uber, Apple, Twitter and Pinterest were the big names (I bet there were more, but these ones stuck to my brain) and proved to be game-changers in the face of traditional business models that were bursting at their seams.
Fast forward to September 2016. We are in-between seasons as well as decisions about staffing and political authority. The word disruptive is now taking on a different meaning; one that encompasses the way people feel (or want to feel) about the world. There is a strong desire for everyone to be disruptive. Writers must somehow hit the buzz word in their articles.
Let’s take a look at the common definitions of being ‘disruptive’. According to Clay Christensen, there are two modes of disruption. One answers a need that the current market has never been able to satisfy. The other offers a swifter and cheaper solution to a service or product that already exists.
Within the past week, I have seen these article headings which have made me question the nature of disruptive services or technology:
I think these articles can be put on the back burner of our busy minds, because they don’t come close to what disruption is really about. They do successfully highlight innovative ideas, but for some reason ‘innovation’ is losing its steam today. Is it because we are being led to think that no one can really be innovative in this day and age? Or is it not a harsh enough term to use for our low attention spans?
Anyway, my favourite (and realistic) examples of disruptive brands are:
Uber, Spotify, AirBnB and TrunkClub.
Clear and simple, all of these companies have redefined how we commute, listen to music, holiday and dress ourselves.
Thanks to Uber, people have stopped relying on union-controlled taxicabs. These were unreliable in the first place anyway. I was once caught in the middle of no where in the area of Marina Del Rey two years ago. I walked 4kms till I reached a resort where I could use a phone to call a cab. Now all I need is a mobile network of some kind and the job is done. I’m safe in a car, being tracked by satellite, a remote team and even a friend whom I can notify when I’m on the go. Lately (and I’m really late on this one) I discovered how great Uber Pool is. You can be in a pool as the only passenger and get the biggest discount you can imagine.
With Spotify on the rise, I predict a total disestablishment of iTunes in the near future. If you get Spotify Premium, you pay a monthly average of AUD$12 or EUR 6 – and a family plan of 6 accounts for AUD$18 or EUR 9. What’s interesting is the app’s recent tie-up with Playstation, allowing users to seamlessly listen to their playlists as they game. You can add as many songs as you like, tap into different charts across the globe, have teams of people curating the right artists for you (and helping so many independent bands to gain recognition) all online and offline.
We all know that AirBnB gives you the home-away-from-home experience. But think about how effective the system of personally communicating with your host is. You get to have a one-on-one with your concierge/housekeeper/hotel manager all for the purpose of making your short trip the most comfortable memory ever. You have more privacy than a hotel room and you get to put yourself in another person’s shoes for the duration of your stay. This is the best feature of AirBnB, really. We’ve heard amazing stories of people who traveled to some small village in Italy, where they were fed home-cooked cannoli and drank wine made from their hosts’ backyard. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to involve an exotic location. Staying in a suburb you’ve always admired, is equally riveting.
Lastly, the Trunk Club takes away the pains of parking at a busy mall and walking in circles till you submit to the first ill-fitting outfit you tried on. It’s an app that allows you to pick your general style and then sit back to await a trunk of clothes selected for you, by an in-house stylist/designer. Your wardrobe is always fresh and interesting with the best brands, avoiding any chance of having an overly-stuffed cupboard. It’s also less expensive than you think.
After pondering over all of this, I find it difficult to get the way restauranteurs, producers, filmmakers photographers, teachers and sales teams all want to hop on the disruptive bandwagon.
I’ll keep an eye on this, but in the meanwhile…
Here’s the Behenji’s List on Truly Disruptive Companies to Look Out for in 2017:
A camera so small and agile, it can be stuck onto any surface to get that impossible shot of something spectacular. This camera will definitely replace selfie sticks and will make us less reliant on our iPhone cameras. Instagram celebrities will be jumping for joy. You don’t need anyone else to take your photo, simply use your phone to control the device and you could be a one person team tracking your own activities of each day.
The Vurb and Snapchat merger
Vurb is a spectacular app made for mobile browsing – something which no other search engine company has been able to construct (strangely enough)! It allows you to save snippets of specific information that you not only searched for, but got results for. It ties in with your calendar and location, offering you a swipe-by feature of pieces of information, instead of pages or tabs of search results. Since being bought by Snap (formerly known as Snapchat), the entertainment and social networking app will allow users to share information with each other in a personalised way, or offer recommendations based on things you search for.
This is a little crazy, but in the near future you could get your own key cut by a machine that will have your data saved in the system. KeyMe operates without a human being working during office hours, behind a counter with a metallic contraption. This is a clear example of how an entire trade could possibly be eliminated from our existence in the near future. People will be replaced by a convenient photo-booth like device that gives you customised keys, within moments.
If you have any other examples of Disruptive technology or services, let me know – and we’ll keep the list going!