Disruption is the name of the game at the dawning of any new age. During the Industrial Age, the entire course of history was changed as new technology disrupted everything from production to transportation--and even banking.
Fast-forward to today, and we're in the midst of similar upheaval as we become more entrenched in the Digital Age. Robots are replacing jobs, paper is disappearing from offices, and video games are driving the future of business tech. We live in strange times and the potential for disruption lurks around nearly every corner.
And while change and innovation are inevitable, there are some industries that are more likely to experience radical change and disruption than others. Here are some of the prime targets for disruption.
The furniture-buying process has experienced little change in the past 50 years. If a person needs to buy a couch, desk, or table, the typical process is as follows: head to a local showroom, test out some options, place an order with a salesperson, and then wait a few weeks (sometimes months) for it to arrive. IKEA changed the game slightly by having customers assemble their own products, but it still involves a lengthy process that often includes travel.
Since many Millennials don't own a car, getting to a showroom or physical store can be problematic. In addition, shoppers today expect instant gratification, so waiting months to receive (or finding time to build) furniture can be a deal breaker.
There is ample opportunity here for a startup to disrupt this process. Similar to the way Casper disrupted the mattress industry, an innovator could create "the perfect" piece of furniture that customers have delivered straight to their homes and provide them with a 30-day risk-free return.
Yes, retail is already getting disrupted by Amazon and online ordering, but it's only going to get worse. Amazon alone poses the greatest threat here, particularly with its recent emergence into physical bookstores and the unveiling of a cashier-less convenience store.
And yes, opening brick-and-mortar locations may seem counterintuitive today, but these physical Amazon stores are examples of omnichannel shopping experiences in action. These storefronts marry the digital and physical shopping experiences, so customers get the best of both worlds.
Through innovative omnichannel approaches like the ones Amazon is providing, other companies can continue to disrupt the current retail industry and deliver the experiences customers are looking for today.
The beginning stages of disruption in the health care industry are already upon us. As the technology for the internet-of-things and wearable devices continues to improve, how patients connect with health care professionals will continue to change. For example, wearable watches that monitor a patient's blood pressure may eventually reduce the need for an at-risk patient to attend regular check-ups. Doctors can remotely monitor a patient's progress and reach out with recommendations as needed.
Wearable health care devices also collect big data, which will continue to give medical professionals insight into big-picture trends--like the migration of viruses or potential causes of cancer. It's anyone's guess as to where current advances will take health care, but we know big changes are coming. What those changes will be is going to depend on what startup finds new ways to leverage tech to make life easier for patients and medical professionals.
According to Statista, "Projections show the e-learning market worldwide is forecast to surpass $243 billion U.S." Today, technology and e-learning are used to personalize education while making it more accessible and affordable for students. Expensive textbooks are getting replaced with more affordable e-books and learning software--both of which can provide immediate feedback for students and invaluable data for instructors.
The right startup in this space could not only revolutionize our schools and universities but also completely change how we learn.
Buying a property is a long and complicated process. In the course of one transaction, a buyer will work with mortgage lenders, bank associates, real estate agents, accountants, appraisers, and lawyers--among others. To even view a potential home, buyers will need to find an agent, schedule a time to meet, and physically see the house.
But what happens when technology is created to sidestep a real estate agent's involvement? It's possible to create an experience that delivers potential properties right to potential buyers, so they never have to meet with an agent. Los Angeles-based startup Open Listings is already starting to blaze the way forward in this arena. This company allows users to choose the property they want to bid on and partners them with an agent only from negotiations to close.
Plus, with the rising popularity of virtual reality, a buyer might be able to make a confident decision about bidding on a new home without leaving his or her living room.
While the above industries are ripe for disruption, all it takes is the right idea and the right technology to revolutionize the way things have always been done. For savvy business owners and leaders, the best advice I can offer is to make sure your company is the one with the right idea and the right technology before it's too late.