Business in the Age of Disruption
Published on : Thursday 13-01-2022
Jasbir Singh dwells upon how to proactively challenge your own business in the age of disruption.
This is the time we have noticed that the Fourth Industrial Revolution took place much earlier compared to those past revolutions, which basically means the rapid impact of innovation and technology on our socio-economic lives and works. The exponential escalation of new technologies experienced by the world today has never been witnessed by the world before. This generation is exposed to these changes with new elevated scale and speed. Earlier during each industrial revolution, the developments were centred on one or two key technologies; whereas today those are not limited to a few but there are multiple technologies that are at the forefront of development, which can affect industry, business and large parts of society. The speed of technological development and transformation is visibly fast. In the past, the changes of impact would have been noticed over the years, even decades. Today, the entire business might be disrupted in a few months or in a years’ time.
Innovation isn't only about technological development, but it’s also the evolving business models that have an edge on technologies. As it was in the past only corporations having large resources can constitute the technological changes but looking into the current scenario any individual can bring the visible changes, which can affect the world. Presently all the emerging disruptive technologies are the guiding factor of the digital revolution. It has created a turbulence in the business arena as these changes are not made on a single platform or on similar technological development.
Industries today running with mature technologies of the time are no more than an exception of disruption. Innovation is applied on identified problems in the current system and providing solutions in new ways to solve it for better results. This approach is different from the regular approach from the start to achieving reality by using new technologies that emerged in recent time. These technologies are large in number and have advanced digital platforms to facilitate the innovative way for reaching the final solution. The data generated over the period helps to fine-tune the result in the shortest time period and keep on improving by machine learning technique as more and more data are collected from operation.
Industries mostly aim to focus on innovation in the current system of production and operation. Organisations mostly do gradual innovation in existing business, develop new or improved version product, production facility, operation or service to change the business.
There are mainly three types of disruptions
1. Technology enabled disruption (run business)
2. Innovation enabled disruption in mature systems (reinvention), and
3. New business (diversity).
Disruption is not a new phenomenon but the speed at which the current rate of disruption is seen now most certainly is. Some of the iconic companies that were disrupted in the recent past like Kodak, Blackberry and Blockbuster can be quoted as examples. Popular technologies used way back were disrupted like Swiss watches, processors, data storage techniques and so on are now replaced with new technologies. Industries need to explore primitive and sceptical innovation approach in problem solving and improvements in industry by multiple ways with different contemporary ideas for reaching to desired goal, creates possibilities to reinvent business.
Radical approach to manage disruption
The world being encountered with constant disruption, businesses now operate in a turbulent and ambiguous environment, and it has implications across the industries. While disruption by radical innovation interestingly generates new scenarios and wide possibilities on one hand, the flipside of it is seen when some industries show the evidence of becoming a primary source of failure. Disruption by emerging technologies is happening at an unrivalled pace, influencing drastically our daily lives and work. While it creates new jobs, yet eliminates some others. It’s complicated and unpredictable for a sustained business environment. The pace of technology-driven innovation is so fast that businesses find themselves challenging to promptly react to these new technologies and their effective use.
Upcoming technologies and implications
The use of IIoT, advance automation, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, as well as other emerging technologies is integrating swiftly and deeply in businesses and gadgets used in our daily lives. It opens the door for industries and generates enormous benefits to business. It is unpredictable whether the selected advanced technologies now available for improvement shall achieve the best results. Today the use of available technologies and their right implementation is visibly more prominent than ever before in industry. High end useful products are instantly replaced by competitor with low-end product, improved business model and competes on cost/efficiencies.
Disruption by technological innovation
Here is an example to understand the disruption by technological innovation to meet the current/future demand.
As the demand for electric vehicles ramps up, the requirement of batteries having more storage capacity, low footprint, and low weight and fast charging also grows simultaneously. The key metals for batteries like lithium, cobalt and nickel are already facing supply constraints. In view of this growing demand for battery powered vehicles, EV-makers are desperately innovating new technologies to develop new materials, bring down raw material costs and charging times. They are working to boost the range and safety of their EV batteries to be readily accepted by every electrically powered vehicle/equipment manufacturer producing, various types irrespective of sizes.
Disruptive battery technologies
The following are possible solutions to overcome with current battery technology problems to power the future electrical vehicles.
Solid-state: a solid-state battery has higher energy density than a Li-ion battery that uses liquid electrolyte solution. It doesn't have a risk of explosion or fire, so there is no need to have components for safety, thus saving more space.
Sodium ion: sodium-ion batteries uses cathodes made of sodium metal oxides, while its anodes are typically carbon-based anodes just like lithium batteries.
Lithium sulfur: lithium sulphur batteries (LiSB) using lithium metal as the anode, an organic liquid electrolyte, and sulphur composite as the cathode, could have a high theoretical capacity (1675mAhg−1) and specific energy (2567Whkg−1).
Over the long term, there could be more new technologies disrupting the battery supply chain market if products are proven having more energy storage capacity, cost effective and more sustainable in supply. Work is progressing on the new technologies like:
i. NanoBolt lithium tungsten batteries
ii. Zinc-manganese oxide batteries
iii. Organosilicon electrolyte batteries
iv Gold nanowire gel electrolyte batteries, and
v. TankTwo String Cell™ batteries.
EVs require much more minerals than cars having internal combustion engines. EV-makers will require a large share of the lithium, cobalt, nickel and other metals to produce batteries for vehicles. The volatile costs, and supply sustainability concerns of metals as the demand forecast is substantially high. A lack of opening of new mines primarily for nickel and other metals required for batteries production have made automakers more worried.
The other phase of disruption for the migration to EVs shall be severely felt by current auto parts suppliers/OEM. The rise in demand of EVs poses a risk for current auto equipment suppliers. Major parts/components/systems required for internal combustion engines vehicles are no longer necessary for EVs. Systems like gas exhaust systems, fuel systems, and power transmissions face the cause of disruption as EVs become becoming more popular choice due to the government restrictions on fossil fuel and environmental impact. Although adoption of EVs will grow slowly or at a modest pace for now. The demand for EVs and production will likely grow more rapidly in the medium term. OEMs and suppliers of those parts exclusively required for internal combustion systems should start preparing for other options today. Those lacking financial flexibility are likely to struggle more if they do not plan now.
Today’s success in business does not stand guarantee of longevity. The world shall be facing a risk of change faster and bigger than ever before. Businesses shall always face the challenge of existing products being replaced by new with more features and lower cost. There will be more tools available in the current digitalisation world. Business has to continue with the philosophy of ‘unlearn to learn’ for products having significant added features of customer choice are available. Find something better shall be the moto in product and services.
Jasbir Singh is an Automation Expert having long experience in Factory Automation, Line Automation, Implementation Strategist, Business Coach, Regular writer on automation, Artificial Intelligence, Robots/Cobots, Digital Technology, Network Communication, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Wireless Communication, Block Chain and use of advance digital technologies. He has established a long association with Business Houses/large production houses to improve factory automation in their production lines as well as productivity improvement in factories in India and overseas; and in advising and designing the units to transform into digital platforms by use of Artificial Intelligence. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org