Disruption can be a good thing or a bad thing.
For some it can reap huge benefits (AOL’s reinvention) for others it can be a disaster (see myspace’s reinvention). However, one thread runs through both of these examples; you don’t win unless you try.
We have seen through Facebook and Twitter that true digital disruption makes billions of dollars. Contemplating an idea that seems so alien to many and then creating a company around it has seen people in their mid twenties enter the billion dollar club.
It doesn’t always work, but when it does, the results are almost unparalleled.
Coming up with an idea like Twitter is not going to happen to everybody though and most digital disruption will occur in pre-existing companies. Look at the way that the BBC designed their new website. They broke the mould of how news websites could be designed and reaped the rewards from it.
Similarly when you look at AOL, a company who were floundering after being one of the largest internet providers in the world. Moving on from this model they realised that they could use their capital to buy sites with already high traffic (Huffington Post, Tech Crunch and MapQuest) and used their existing infrastructures to create ad networks based around this. This has been done successfully. After a poor run of results AOL announced revenues of $599.5 million in February 2013, their first Q1 revenue growth in 8 years.
AOL are therefore a prime example of a company who have managed to successfully digitally disrupt. They may not have been the first to do each of their individual parts, but they have done it on a scale rarely seen before and have totally disrupted the way they previously worked. It is this kind of success that other companies can look at.
So, how can you disrupt in your industry?