Technology as an enabler: How disruptive brands do it

Martin Newman
May 25, 2022
10 min read
Subscribe to newsletter
The Metaverse is the latest innovation to be getting a lot of media coverage. There is no doubt it’s going to have a huge impact on how we interact with brands and with each other.

Disruptive brands are those who find a way of solving problems for customers that exist in traditional and existing sectors that the incumbents and legacy brands have been unable to solve. Sometimes, because they’re not asking the right question in the first place to understand where barriers exist for customers. Other times, they know the issue but don’t know how to solve it. Or, in the worst-case scenario, they see the problem but are too focused on the cost to solve rather than the benefit of doing so.

But let’s be clear. The disruptors never start with the technology, they always start by solving the problem the customer has.

One of the challenges with technology and innovation is how to forecast the rate of customer adoption. As we always over-estimate the impact of technology in the short-term and underestimate its impact in the long term. We always imagine that consumer adoption will be at a faster pace than it is or that the technology itself will be more evolved than it is.

For example; We’ve been talking about driverless vehicles for a good 7-8 years and as of mid 2022, there are none on our roads.

The Metaverse is the latest innovation to be getting a lot of media coverage. There is no doubt it’s going to have a huge impact on how we interact with brands and with each other. But in real terms, it is very early in its evolution. Can you make money on it today? You certainly can. Nike did a sneaker and NFT collaboration with an artist known as FEWOCiOUS and over 600 pairs were sold generating $3.1m in sales in a matter of a few days.

This said, you need to be clear about who your customers are and whether they’re spending time in the Metaverse or not. In reality, it’s currently occupied by the innovators and very early adopters who tend to be young and working in more technical roles. We’re years away from the average consumer spending any real time in different Metaverse environments.

Whereby, if we look at the here and now, we can see the disruptors having a significant impact across all consumer sectors. From Uber in taxis and food delivery to Rockar in Automotive, who are enabling the car brands to disintermediate and cut out the middle-men car dealers and go direct to consumers. To Starling, Revolut and Monzo in the banking sector. Not forgetting Amazon in retail and Airbnb in travel, each and every consumer sector has been affected. Customers can now have the type of convenient experience they seek rather than the one that is foisted upon them by brands with legacy technology who have been unable to digitally transform their business.

The disruptors have an endless and relentless focus to put the customer at the heart of all they do. Their eyes are always on the prize of building customer lifetime value. Whereby the legacy players are focused on a ‘cost to serve’ approach. The former turns customers into fans as they have the experience they desire the latter all too often turns customers into detractors because of the barriers they hit along the path of their engagement.

The best-ever marketing retention campaign is Amazon Prime. Can you imagine pitching that to the board of a legacy retail business?

My starting point with technology is empowerment. How do we empower our colleagues to do the jobs to the best of their ability and our customers to engage with us as they choose.

As both will have a considerable impact on the long-term viability and success of the business.

If you want to learn more about using technology as an enabler to improve your customer experience and how to become a more customer centric business you can sign up for my Mini MBA in partnership with The Oxford College of Marketing and The Oxford College of Leadership and Management. The next cohort starts on 13th of June.