The dynamics of disruption

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Waves of disruptive change are rolling in. Colliding megatrends, from rapid urbanisation, to climate change and resource scarcity, to technological breakthroughs, are impacting business and society. For business based on the economics of mass production the question isn’t if, it’s when.

Your ‘official’ future no longer applies

The world is at an inflexion point, economically, politically and socially. The future is to be made. We can see the effects all around us. We know that these shifts – and the collisions between them – are reshaping societies, economies and behavioural norms across the world. We know they’re redefining whole industries at a headlong pace. We also know that technology is the core driver of many of these impacts – from Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality (VR), to 3D printing, and from autonomous cars, to stem cell rejuvenation, to drones  – and that their combined effect is creating a new range of future pathways for societies, governments and businesses. But what we can’t be sure of is how, as business leaders, we should be planning for what’s to come.

All of this raises a key question. How do we create a strategy for a business when the past is no longer a reasonable guide to the future? To come up with the right answer, organisations must be ready to stretch their horizons, adapt, innovate and transform. But the complexity of doing all this makes it tempting to focus on the short term. With so much hype, so many unknowns, and such a degree of volatility in every dimension, defining a strategic response to incoming disruptors can feel like an uphill struggle. But it needn’t be this way. There are actions you can take today to look ahead, make decisions, and get in shape for the future – whatever it may look like.

"How do we create a strategy for a business when the past is no longer a reasonable guide to the future?"

Leo Johnson, Disruption Lead

It’s time to look disruption in the eye

Developing a deep understanding of the nature of disruption and the emerging technology behind it is key for all organisations as is gaining the capability to monitor and interpret the often very faint signals of forthcoming disruptive impacts. It is then that these organisations need to  apply these insights to tackle potential challenges with truly innovative thinking. At PwC, we’ve been undertaking this journey ourselves: extensively analysing disruptors and emerging technologies, both in general and through the specific lenses of our sector practices. We’ve created a series of tools – including a Virtual Reality world – to help you spot, analyse and monitor the ‘Black Swans’ that could be on future horizons. And we’ve imagined four scenarios for the world’s future, each offering a very different trajectory for your organisation.

The future is now

The key is to start now. All Essential Eight technologies, and many beyond, are already being used to as a source of competitive advantage by businesses today. Strategic responses to disruption involve both defensive moves to ward off risks, and proactive innovation to seize opportunities. However, to be effective, responses to disruption will need transformation across multiple dimensions. It’s not just about the technology, it’s about changing your operating model. This could mean taking a new look at fundamental enterprise elements including product and service mix, customer experience, asset base and skills. It may even mean looking outside of your own company walls. Success could as easily depend on collaboration and co-creation with other organisations as it could on monetising data, demystifying blockchain, or deploying drones.

According to a PwC study from our Polish colleagues on the commercial applications of drone technology, the emerging global market for business services using drones is valued at over $127 bn. This is the value of current business services and labour that are likely to be replaced in the very near future by drone powered solutions, according to PwC predictions.

This is one of many reasons why we balance business understanding with technology innovation and human insight to help you re-imagine your tomorrow and make it happen. We have the research, tools and experience to help you take on the challenges of a disruptive future. Start the conversation. The future is now.

Contact us

Leo Johnson

Partner, Disruption Lead, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7212 4147

Euan Cameron

UK Artificial Intelligence Leader, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7804 3554

Jeremy Dalton

Head of VR/AR, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7701 295956

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