For evidence of how quickly technology changes the world, just take a look at Stripe. A round of funding in November valued it at about $9.2 billion, nearly double what it was worth less than two years earlier and making it one of the most valuable U.S. fintech companies. The software company powers online payments for e-commerce sites and is riding the wave of consumer movement from offline to online.
Spending on Black Friday weekend highlights the trend: Internet sales on both days rose in the double digits compared with 2015, surpassing $3 billion for the first time, and net sales at brick-and-mortar stores fell 5% over the two days. Many of the online transactions passed through Stripe, not through traditional payment processors.
The way we buy today is already different than just a few years ago. In a decade, it will be totally transformed.
Retailers and traditional payment processors aren't the only ones being affected by the broad changes underway. Technology is continually redefining how most industries work, from financial services and health care to manufacturing and energy.
Here is what every company must do to stay relevant and competitive in the coming decade of unprecedented disruption.
• Grasp the full scale of disruption
If you can't see the complete picture of impending changes, then how can you possibly confront those changes?
Keep tabs on emerging technology providers. Be hyperaware of the trends in your sector. And ensure that all employees are educating themselves about the specific disruptions that apply to your business.
You need to continually experiment with new ideas as well. Polaris, which makes motorcycles and off-road vehicles, had a program for employees to generate new ideas. The result was Slingshot, a unique three-wheeler that disrupted the traditional motorcycle business and helped boost Polaris' market capitalization to $6 billion.
Follow Polaris' model by engaging with employees and customers to gain valuable insight. Experiment with new ideas even if it could cannibalize your business, because you might have stumbled onto the next big disruption in your industry.
• Listen to employees
While active executive participation remains essential, every business also must demonstrate trust, promote collaboration, and inspire innovation across the entire employee population. Unfortunately, only about a third of U.S. employees today are "involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace," according to Gallup. That has a measurable negative impact. Research shows that unhappy workers end up being 10% less productive than their colleagues.
Giving your employees a voice will inspire them to care enough to help the company advance. As part of an innovation challenge, Citibank decided to simultaneously connect more than 260,000 employees in 97 countries. The bank was able to generate massive participation from its diverse employee base, ultimately leading to 2,000 new ideas being suggested.
Start with this fundamental question: Is there a way for employees across the organization to easily share their ideas? From there, either introduce new systems or change existing ones so that you're fostering a culture of innovation.
• Break from tradition
KPMG research found that 54% of insurance companies say their innovation strategies focus on developing new products tailored to changing customer needs. The lesson is, quite simply, that if the old market is disappearing, it's time to look for a new one.
When seeking new ideas, many companies hold quarterly brainstorming sessions with their top executives, but that's no longer enough. Make idea generation and self-disruption an ongoing process that is built into your corporate culture. Be ready to implement the best ideas in almost real time.
Not every idea is transformative, but a lot of improvement can happen incrementally. Crowdsourcing uncovers a range of ideas that can help generate savings, identify new opportunities and improve existing products and services.
And who knows? One of those ideas just might be the next Slingshot.