Your business is digitally hacked. Here are 5 Futurist Responses!

Posted on Monday, 07 May 2018


Ben & Co Futurist Anders Sorman-Nilsson

5 questions to get you thinking about your counter-attack

Somewhere around the world – be that in Silicon Valley, Silicon Beach or Bangalore – a start-up is targeting your market share and your business and you are getting digitally hacked. In a garage or shared strategy ‘think space’, in the next suburb or across the world, someone is looking at you as an opportunity for disruption and digital hacking. And if they’re not doing it yet, they will be soon. (Remember – everything that can be digitised will be digitised.)

The infrastructure your business and your industry has built up, over decades or centuries, is now being used by fast OTT (over the top) players from other areas – think about WhatsApp, disrupting the SMS revenues of the traditional telecommunication companies by building on existing infrastructure. Like digital parasites, they are siphoning off profitable services like SMS, meaning now you can make ‘phone calls’ and have teleconferences via WhatsApp and WeChat.

Whatsapp Futurist Anders Sorman-Nilsson

So, how can you respond to these digital business disruptors?

Traditionally, if a competitor was sizing up your brand, they’d have to work out in which one of three areas they could beat you in – that is, whether they could be faster, better or cheaper. Now, as we move out of a physical economy and into a digital economy, those players wanting to compete with your business no longer have to choose – now they can be all three at the same time.

Uber and the digital economy

Take the example of Uber. A lot has been said about Uber, especially in recent years. Indeed, the chinks in Uber’s armour have proven they are not invulnerable to digital disruption themselves – a weakness being exploited by Australian-based Shebah, a ride-sharing service created by women for women and currently available in and around Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Perth, Brisbane, the Gold and Sunshine Coasts and coming soon to Darwin.

There’s no denying, however, how disruptive Uber has been in the digital economy they play in – and not just to taxis and car rental companies but also to every service industry. And the reason they have been so disruptive is because of the futuristic value they have been able to provide in the areas of cost, experience and platform, and the rising customer expectation they are responsible for boosting.

In terms of cost value, UberX is often less costly than taxis – and you get your bonus water, perhaps even some mints. And you can see if the cost is going to be higher than normal thanks to Uber’s transparent surge pricing multiplier. The experience is also often more pleasurable, with comfortable cars and air conditioning. And the platform value is huge. Customers know who their driver is going to be and drivers know their customers. You can also see how far away your Uber is (no more waiting outside your house, hoping for the yellow light of your approaching taxi), and you can let your family and friends know where you are by being able to track your journey. All this builds huge digital trust.

Providing cost, experience and platform value

Digital Business Models

The following breaks down how cost, experience and platform value can be provided by digital business models.

Cost value:

  • Price transparency
  • Consumption-based pricing
  • Reverse auctions
  • Buyer aggregation
  • Rebates and rewards

Experience value:

  • Customer choice
  • Personalisation
  • Automation
  • Lower latency
  • Any device, any time

Platform value:

  • Unlimited marketplaces
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Peer-to-peer
  • Sharing economy
  • Data monetisation

Given you can now be faster, better and cheaper simultaneously, how does this either make you vulnerable or create opportunity for you to disrupt a competitor, or even a new industry?

Digital Futurist Anders Sorman-Nilsson

Incorporating value into every aspect of your business

So how can you incorporate more of these values into your business and stop the digital hacking? Ask yourself the following:

  1. Do any signs indicate that your industry might be disrupted in the near future? How can you turn those future challenges into opportunities? (Think about Lego’s return to favour, often hailed as the ‘greatest turnaround in corporate history’.)
  2. What assumptions about your industry (and your ordinary world) are you accepting without critical thought? Think about how you can challenge the status quo in your industry and create more value for your customers – perhaps via a digital platform.
  3. What problems and barriers might hinder or impede your customers doing business with you? How can you turn these insights into creative ideas and solutions?
  4. How can you improve your platform and interface? What combination of different solutions and touchpoints collectively could address different aspects of a problem along the customer journey?
  5. How can you better incorporate your brand values into a compelling customer experience and value offered?

For more on dealing with digital disruption and business hacking, check out the video below.


And to enquire about how I might be able to help your business with strategic scenario planning, click the button below.

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