How Will Your Business Be Disrupted Next?

6 Min Read

In today’s business landscape, disruption is the name of the game. Eight-seven percent of CEOs believe their business will be disrupted, but only 4 percent feel their business is ready for it. 

Technology continues to change the way companies do business every day, and it’s poised to become even more influential as time goes on. No sector is safe from change, and it’s important to have a plan in place for dealing with any potential continuity issues your business may face. 

If disruption were easy to predict, it wouldn’t really be disruption. While there’s no surefire way to know what’s next for your business, there are a few key factors to keep a close eye on, including: 


The number of targeted large-scale cyberattacks increases 27 percent annually, but that number is hardly surprising to anyone who reads the news regularly. Yahoo, Equifax, Sony — the list of major companies affected by poor cybersecurity seems to grow almost daily. 

This isn’t just a problem affecting the big players, either — 55 percent of business experienced a cybersecurity breach in 2015 and 2016, with each attack costing, on average, $2 million in recovery costs and damage to normal operations. Investing in adequate digital security infrastructure may be costly, but it will almost always outweigh the potential harm a breach would do to your business. 

As operations become increasingly digitized, your business is at risk. If your company is doing business more frequently on digital platforms, digital threats should be one of your biggest disruption concerns. 

Government Regulation

It’s not the kind of disruption we tend to think about, but government regulation has a massive impact on who wins and loses in any industry. Think about the 2018 Farm Bill and how it legitimized and legalized large portions of the hemp and CBD industries overnight. Any movement from world governments can have a massive impact on the way your business operates.

Tabled legislation like the Green New Deal could affect anything from energy costs to building materials. You should be keenly aware of how the government sees your sector and how it might influence the way you do business. Changes in spending, subsidies, or even legality can turn everything upside down — be prepared for it by keeping an eye on tidal changes happening within your industry. That’s an early signal that the government will take notice. 

Artificial Intelligence

When a group of experts was asked whether it thought AI would cause a net loss or a net creation of jobs by 2025, the members were split on the issue, 48% to 52%. The contention around the impact of artificial intelligence is obvious, but one thing is certain: It’s already changing the way business is done. 

AI has already started increasing the value of user data, eliminating the need for menial tasks and beating humans at just about every game imaginable. Calum Chace, one of the world’s top futurist speakers, has long researched the relationship between computer and human cognition and determined a serious possibility of human unemployability in the face of increased automation. AI may affect every business differently, but it’s something all businesses should be prepared for. 

New Partnerships

Partnerships might be old news in business, but they’re increasingly happening in new and innovative ways. Fifty-seven percent of disruptive business are making innovation happen by branching out of their organization. Whether it’s through acquisition or alliance, innovative partnerships are bound to shake things up in a big way. 

Take Burger King, for example. Its partnership with startup Impossible Foods facilitated the creation of the Impossible Whopper — a vegan burger that looks and tastes like real beef. While some might see this as a gimmick, the numbers say otherwise: Foot traffic at franchises offering the Impossible Whopper increased by 18 percent, while foot traffic at others fell by 1.75 percent. 

Innovators like Impossible Foods are hungry for the opportunity to showcase their offerings on a larger scale, and its partnership with Burger King shows how successful combinations like those can be. Look for potential partnership opportunities in your sector — how could they affect the way you do business, and are you prepared for that kind of shift?  

If you knew how you were going to be disrupted next, you’d never be disrupted at all. While you can’t be sure what’s coming next, you can take notice of fast-moving segments. Remember that disruption waits for no one.

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Renee Johnson is a freelance writer who covers the business and tech worlds. With experience writing for a variety of tech-based publications and a background in business, management, and finance, Johnson discusses new technologies and their impact.