A tale of two industries facing digital disruptions and what you can learn from them


The history of humanity has been marked by its progress.

From working with stone to the creation of the computer we have been hurtling towards a future rich with technological promise.

These moments have been marked in history as significant points in our existence.

However, history isn’t so crash hot on honouring those who failed to adapt. There’s a reason the saying goes “history is written by the victors,” after all, everybody remembers Caesar, but who on earth remembers Crassus?

In the modern age the rate of progress is staggering; we have seen more advancement in 50 years than the last 5,000 years. It is inevitable, then, that every aspect of life will change, especially the workplace.

Every industry will be affected by technology. Below are key examples of how two diverse industries will be affected by these developments, and the lessons we can learn from them.


There have been many exciting developments in the transport industry recently.

From the creation of the self-driving car to the development of Smart Cities, in decades to come the family car will be as unrecognisable as the floppy disk is to this generation.

While this means that there are going to be exciting opportunities to expand in this area, the manufacturing industry and the service industry will face enormous challenges.

Uber.pngA recent example of this is the rise of Uber. The popularity of this service is fast making the taxi industry obsolete. Certify suggests that:

“an average of 46 percent of all total paid car rides were through Uber, which is a steep rise from a mere 15 percent  in 2014 ...”

Anyone who has used Uber can tell you that it:

  • is convenient to anyone with a smart phone
  • is accessible (at least in urban environments for now.)  
  • is transparent (there is a quick and easy rating system for all Uber drivers)
  • can offer more value than taxis

Recently in Sydney,  created an experiment:

What was the better experience Uber or taxis?

They took trips for various distances and at different times and the outcome was that Uber was:

  • cheaper “nine times out of ten”
  • taxis were 40% more expensive”
  • Uber was more responsive

It is fascinating that a business that has just altered the existing model to be more agile online has completely transformed the face of this industry.

But what will happen then when you completely change the mode of transport itself?

In the case of self-driving cars, the prediction is that if people can get in a car and it will take you anywhere you want to go, this is going just affect the car industry, but also:

  • the insurance industry
  • government
  • retail
  • media

Such a far-reaching effect has been termed the “butterfly effect” and is a very common theme in digital disruption.


In the last few years, retail has seen enormous changes in consumer behaviour.

Everyone from the florist, the door-to-door salesman and the big department stores have been affected by the way we use technology to look for goods and services and how we purchase them.

The biggest challenge these businesses face is globalisation. We are no longer restrained by our location ­– the entire world is the marketplace and this means that local companies need to be aware of pricing, quality and convenience, which a much larger pool of competitors.

In Australia it is estimated that:3-5 percent of sales are online and also 80% of domestic apparel sales are influenced by online research.”

This percentage may not seem like much, but it has been exceptionally damaging for bigger department stores like David Jones, who, after recording significant losses had to consider several solutions, including a merger with Myer.

Ultimately it took a buy-out from Woolworths, a heavy rebranding and a rethink about pricing to save the future of the company.

How to survive

Even though the above examples seem grim, there is actually a massive silver lining as points out:

Interestingly, no industry has experienced total disruption. There are still successful newspapers, recording labels, bookstores, travel agents, taxi operators, retail stores and advertising firms.”

From these examples it becomes clear that for a business to be competitive it needs to:

  • educate
  • re-evaluate
  • create


This process involves having a good, hard look at your business and:

  • assessing what skills you and your departments need to have in order to be competitive
  • anticipating technological developments and using them to your advantage
  • using the data at hand to assess what consumers are doing and where they are going


After you’ve established what you and your consumers need, it may be that, like David Jones, the current status quo won’t support this. You may need to:

  • restructure your company to a small or large degree, introduce new departments and divest yourself of others
  • merge
  • rebrand
  • shift your focus to another aspect of the business


And by this we mean the creation of platforms. If you are not online in some capacity, then you are in dire trouble of fading away.

Where to then?

While these changes may seem overwhelming, if you are willing to really embrace them then you may see your business take off into unimaginable and exciting directions.

CeBIT Australia SME Summary Report