Uber has changed the taxi industry, Airbnb is changing the hotel industry, and streaming apps have changed the way we listen to music. It should come as no surprise then that a recent IBM study, the 'Global C-suite Study', showed that CEO’s were most worried about industry disruption.
“They are nervous about being made obsolete, being squashed in terms of their profit models, their costumers being taken away, choose whatever term you want, by entities like Uber, even if their not in the transportation business," Harvard Business School Historian Nancy Koehn said on Boston Public Radio Tuesday.
As technology changes so rapidly, how do industries stay current and prepare for a disruption? “You are going to try to respond as quickly as you can,” Koehn said.
“Some of that reactively, some of it ideally more proactively. So take taxi drivers, taxi service for example, one of the interesting responses on the part of taxi cabs and taxi cab companies to Uber has been first, you can use credit cards now almost anywhere in America. That is relatively new, that is about responding to Uber, and the convenience of not having cash and still being able to take a taxi,” she said.
As consumers, many of us revere industry disruptions. Without them, many of our favorite apps or devices, or even going as far back as the telephone, wouldn’t exist. Wasn’t the telegraph enough? While it may be great to reap the benefits of disruption and competition, it is not pragmatic for businesses to continue to constantly fight off the next Uber.
“We applaud disruption as a phenomenon at our own peril, " Koehn said. "All this flux ends up in many many cases, ends up benefiting the consumer but it’s not painless. It’s very expensive for workers, for communities, for governments, and sometimes for consumers.”
Listen to the complete interview with Harvard Business School Historian Nancy Koehn right here