Looks like it might be – here’s why it pays to keep one eye on the future

Disruption to established business sectors is starting to feel like the new normal. Airbnb has well and truly revolutionised the hospitality sector with its room-letting platform. Uber has effectively remodelled the global taxi industry. And Deliveroo means that almost any independent restaurant can now deliver straight to your door – fast. And that’s just the demand, or ‘gig’, economy.

Shrink or swim?

few observations made by the Financial Times recently drove home how rapidly advancing technology is shaking things up in other areas, too. And while its reporters signalled the economic upsides, they also looked at the negatives for the unwary. Indeed, they identified five sectors they predict will either shrink or disappear completely over the coming five to 10 years. Here’s a quick overview:

Manufacturers and distributors of small components. Why? The use of increasingly cost-effective, on-site 3D printing – aka additive manufacturing.
The vehicle insurance market. This sector may take a hit because of driverless cars that (eventually) won’t crash and need expensive repair work.
Financial advisers. The threat here comes from a new breed of algorithm-driven ‘robo-advisers’ that put together fund portfolios based on answers to an online questionnaire.
High Street travel agents. This one feels inevitable as the industry increasingly moves online.
Car repair garages. The internal combustion engine is a complicated thing that needs regular servicing. Unlike an electric motor, a remarkably simple tool in comparison. And the future, as we know it, is electric.

These examples are telling because they cover such a broad area. Essentially, they tell us that it’s very difficult to pin down what’s coming next or from what angle.

Start by stopping

What to do? Push on? Or stop and reflect? We favour the latter at Chapman Consulting. This is a period in which you look closely at your structures and environment – internally, locally and, if relevant, globally. Ideally, you’ll do this with the help of a professional, third-party perspective. That way you get the clarity that can only come from unbiased objectivity.

What you discover may not be the next big disruptive thing. But it could and should, at a minimum, lead to a dynamic shift in mindset. This is likely to involve a transition from a reactive, moment-by-moment model to something adaptive, proactive and future-focused. And that, in turn, could have a transformative effect on the way you do business.