Business Disruption - your Fountain of Opportunity

How many of you have experienced disruption in your lives through adversity, tragedy, or hurt? Whether in relation to your business, your family, your partner, your health, a great loss, or even a major win?

Disruption is an interesting thing. It comes into our lives, slaps us out of complacency and, often (when you let it.) what follows after the dust has settled can often be unexpectedly extraordinary.

Both for our personal lives, and in business.

That is why I call disruption an opportunity. And, when you seize that opportunity - like you would for any opportunity – consciously - it turns out to be a much smoother ride.

Digital Disruption – The Lifehacker’s Ally

During the last decade or so we have seen an era of unprecedented disruption caused by some of the most ground-breaking, exciting and surprising innovation we have ever seen.

What it has done is given us the chance to make our lives easier, to free us up from menial tasks – so that we can concentrate on what matters. It has let us hack at life with our smart devices, portable technology, ease of decision making, time efficiency, mobility – the list goes on.

Disruption certainly is a lifehacker’s ally – and in business – this era of disruption represents a wave of opportunity - when surfed with grounded innovation - that you can easily ride - with the right mindset and the right tools.

The perils of complacency: “Organisational Inertia” - The great foundation of failure…

This is where I must heed a word of warning. Never let the perils of complacency settle in to your business. Having a growth strategy that includes emerging business ie innovation, particularly in this current era, is a must.

In 2016, the World Economic Forum reported that digital (disruption) is the main reason just over 50% of companies on the Fortune 500 have disappeared since the year 2000.

Take Kodak for example, they had actually invented the digital camera! However, they didn’t commercialise it because they chose to protect their film business instead. Product protection and failing to look forward did not serve them well.
Blockbuster is another famous case of failure born of organisational inertia. They were blind to the threat that Netflix represented, subjected their customers to predatory late fees, and failed to formulate a strategy to adapt to the digital world.

So, right about now, it is a good time to ask yourself - is my business adapting, innovating and looking forward? Because if isn’t yet, it should be (at least very soon).

How did these tech giants propel their growth? And so quickly?

How did they do it? How did the likes of Facebook and Netflix nail it so well? What is their secret?!

How did they tap into what we didn't even realise we needed? Time and time again? And so quickly?

Simple: DATA. They knew the importance of it, they knew what to do with it, and they knew the that they should listen to it.

Take Facebook for example. Mark Zuckerberg had a hunch. He tapped in to the Zeitgeist in a major way. What was it telling him? That we all craved community. Once he released a ‘Minimum Viable Product’ (MVP) out to the world, he then tracked people’s usage in order to enhance and sustain the product, to shape it, update it, perfect it.

Netflix analysed the data collected from tracking user’s downloads and usage, which made them realise the opportunity that lay in front of them meant: ditching their mail DVD service and focusing on online streaming!

In both cases - there was an idea or a hunch - but the resulting product/service was shaped with data-driven backing.

Today’s technology means that you too can capitalise on the power of data in your business just like they did.

What is data?

Simply put - it’s information. From anywhere: sales, customers, employees, inventory, expenses, web usage, staff knowledge. It’s all ‘data’ that can serve your business.

Data has been heralded the ‘oil’ of the 21st century because of how powerful its value is. However, what most people have been slow to realise is that data is useless without the ability to gain insight from it ie analyse it.

Working with data this way is called data analytics or data science. It is basically the application of mathematics and statistics on data. Without this science the data is pointless. Therefore, for business success in the 21st century, analytics is as

pertinent as computers were 30 years ago.

4 Types Of Data Analytics You Must Have In Your Business

  • Descriptive – this is counts, averages, basic graphs; standard regular reporting
  • Diagnostic – monitor for changes – looking at previous year’s data and comparing to now
  • Predictive* – forecasts and looking at what patterns shape those forecasts
  • Prescriptive* – can use analyses from first three to prescribe future opportunities and also alert to poor choices/threats. Examples include: should we invest in that new line? Should we invest in that idea? Should we can that line? Is that customer base costing us more money than we make from them?

*Predictive and prescriptive are part of what is called ‘Advanced Analytics’. They are the secret behind the meteoric success of those disruptive innovators of the last decade like Facebook, Google, Netflix, Apple etc. It is HOW they managed to deliver what we didn’t realise we needed.

The Secret Weapons of Successful Disruption:
Advanced Analytics

The reason Advanced Analytics propels innovative business growth is twofold:

  • Risk-reduction: decisions that are data-backed are strategically risk-reducing
  • Clearer direction: product or service development is now shaped directly by the customer’s actual behaviour. This is so for ANY business, not just tech ones.

The reason Advanced analytics is pertinent to 21st century business is because, in an era of high cost, it is used for:

  • Optimising every aspect of your business
  • Minimising cost
  • Maximising profit

And, lastly and most importantly:

  • Intelligence – seeking out opportunities & threats

I might add that although you may not see the point of advanced analytics for your business now – let me remind you that most of the success stories we hear about started off in someone’s garage – with rarely more than one employee!

Smaller businesses – Data Starter Guide

“Without ... data analytics, companies are blind and deaf, wandering out onto the web like deer on a freeway” Geoffrey Moore, Organisational Theorist & Author

Here is a guide on the steps you can take to get a data-driven culture infused into your business, regardless of size.

  1. DATA STRATEGY - begin to carve out a ‘data strategy’ which is basically a plan for how you will deal with your treasure – your ‘oil’.
  2. DATA LITERACY - a mandatory part to your data strategy is ensuring company-wide ‘Data Literacy’. This is the ability to read, work with, understand and argue with data. Staff and management must get trained up in this to ensure they’re on board with your growth.
  3. ANALYTICS - ensure you or your staff, or a consultant, begin to paint a picture of your business using the 4 types of analytics. And that’s it. It is that simple – from there the insights you will gain, the risk reduction, and the innovation opportunities you will strike – will provide a string of Eureka moments!

It is as important to start this now in any business as it was to get computers 30 years ago. Imagine all those companies back then that didn’t ride the wave of computer disruption and continued using only paper, pen and a calculator. Would they still exist today?

Prepare for growth now. Begin to understand your data. Get someone to put it into a visual form that makes sense. Ask questions, lots of them. Explore, gain insight, ideate.

Your data brings you closer to your customers, closer to your threats, closer to your opportunities, and closer to your employees. Use it!

Intuition vs Data-Driven Decision Making

We all use our intuition as business owners.

But, having a hunch is just one side of the coin – in this era, successful business owners make sure they back their hunches with solid data-driven insights. That way you hedge your bets, know when to can something and know when to change direction.

What Sort of Innovation Problems Can Analytics Help Solve?


Using data analytics with ideation – which I call Grounded Innovation - can bring fresh solutions to questions like:

  • How do I get more people into my business?
  • How can I bring in a new revenue stream using existing infrastructure?
  • What are the current threats in or to my business?
  • Are any staff members unhappy? Does this affect their performance? Does this threaten the livelihood of my business? Can I defuse the situation?
  • Is my idea worth pursuing? How can I test it before investing too much time or $?
  • How can I transform a particular service I offer?

Whether innovating or not, every aspect of your business in today's climate must have data-driven strategy around it otherwise you’re fumbling in the dark, especially as your business grows. Why? Because as we’ve seen with successful disrupters, analytics gives you a major advantage in the market place because it brings you closer to the customer’s wants – and can allow you to leverage your offerings and reach a wider customer-base.

Innovation Starter Guide

So, I urge you - please do not let complacency keep your business at just existing. The next five or so years will see even more disruption. Start building on your ideas today, in a grounded way.
What have you got to lose?

The everyday excitement you get from ideation is worth it!
Here is an innovation starter guide:

  • Ideate: Play with your ideas – in a scrapbook, with colour!
  • Surprise: Ask how you can surprise your customers and even your staff
  • Zeitgeist: Ponder the ‘zeitgeist’ of your business’s ecosystem and how you can cater to it
  • Deep Dive: into both the:
    • data of every area of your business
    • your customers' experience (known as User experience (Ux)) – become a customer to your business, to your website, map the customer journey – talk with customers and staff.
  • Value Denials: Ponder your customer’s ‘value denials’ - products or services that are both desired and feasible but are not being supplied to the market.

For example – passengers were always anxious about the cost of their cab fare – Uber came in and supplied this information in their service up front, thereby fulfilling this problem, denied them for so long.

So Why Do Your Ideas Count?

I’m going to be disruptive and surprising here so please excuse the life hacker in me, but here’s the thing: its time we dropped the whole ‘mind body spirit’ thing. it is so separatist and does not provide for the whole picture.

In fact, it is time we realised we are a coherent moving system of intelligence.

A system that processes information - ‘data’ - that has come from the inside and the outside.

A system which has information processing centres which exist in the head, heart, and stomach regions, and which are actually connected to each other and able to work coherently (ever heard yourself say ‘my gut tells me?’…).

Now Systems theory tells that systems are self-balancing, self-correcting, self-regulating.

You are this! A self-balancing system of intelligence.

We all are.

Now you as a system of intelligence are part of a larger collective system of the same. And your business? It serves this collective! Your ideas? Come for a reason - as a need to help the collective system self-balance!

This is the ZEITGEIST. Understanding this inspires you to create that something that people didn’t realise they needed!

It doesn’t matter how crazy your ideas are. Explore them. Go for it. Especially the ones that don’t leave you alone at night! They are cooking now in your cosmic kitchen. When they’re ready you’ll be serving them. And you can reduce the risk by doing it smart - using data, a grounded, risk reducing evidence-based approach.

What have you got to lose?

Simply put, if you don’t innovate and explore your ideas, someone else will - as a must- since it serves the organic intelligence of the self-balancing collective system we call humanity.

So good luck and get to it!

Much love,
Katrina xo
Chief Innovation Officer,
Lifehackers Inst.
M: 0418 256 844

Need help with the ‘data strategy’ or ‘innovation starter’ guides? Lifehackers Inst. can solve all your analytics and innovation needs. We also deliver training in data literacy and 21st century soft skills.

As an exclusive to Shire Women we are excited to offer our Data & Innovation Starter Pack for only $99 (that’s a $250 saving!). We’ll sit with you, explore your data and your ideas and get you well on your way to Grounded Innovation! For more information call us on 0418 256 844 or email