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Adapting to continuous disruption
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Adapting to continuous disruption

Thomas Edison's invention of the incandescent light bulb was one of the greatest inventions of all time - and in its day, a major disruptive force. It spawned the age of electric power, with the cornerstone company being Edison General Electric, later known as GE. For many years, it used the tagline "We bring good things to life" - and indeed it did ,,, the X-Ray machine, home appliances, commercial jet engines, medical technologies and much, much more. The company was founded in 1889, it went went public in 1892 and last month, it was booted from the Dow Jones Average.

In light of this event, Steve McKee looks at the cycles of disruption in his article Why you (and GE) are feeling dizzy, which appears in SmartBrief. He notes that the cycle of disruption is accelerating. One example:

"A Deloitte study of the UK census discovered that telephone and telegraph operators enjoyed a full century of growth before jobs began to decline. Similarly, a Harvard Business Review analysis of how many decades it took various 20th-century innovations to mature noted that it took 64 years for telephones to reach 40% penetration. By contrast, smartphones achieved the same result in a single decade (by then telephone and telegraph operators had all but disappeared)."

He makes the case that the current business reality is one of "continuous disruption" - a reality that business leaders must recognize and embrace so that we are "better able to refresh our relevance."

In an essay in on disruptive technology in Linkedin, Kevin Boyle makes an excellent point: "Those managing Digital Transformation programs should remember that the light-bulb was not invented by trying to improve the candle. Real progress involves re-thinking how business is done rather than simply using new technology to replicate old processes. "

Here at Renaissance Alliance, we've been looking at disruptive forces in our own industry for a number of years. In an article on change and disruption, Bruce Cochrane looks at some of the fundamentals for the future that we’ve gleaned from our 150 member strong alliance of independent agents, insurance carriers and vendor partners over the last decade and a half. He says that the agency of the future will be:

  • Committed to a continuous (perpetual) improvement process and continuous (r)evolution
  • Virtual, nimble and dynamic, meeting customer needs when, where and how they want to be met, with a 24/7/365 service orientation
  • Innovative in creating competitive advantages and specialty products and services, including non-P&C services
  • Cost efficient by leveraging economies of scale to drive down the cost of doing business and by outsourcing non-business critical functions
  • Committed to effective and aggressive adoption of technology
  • Focused on data management to continually drive agency metrics and to identify and understand prospect and customer needs and preferences
  • An expert consultative partner
  • Leveraging social media for prospecting and engaging with customers
  • Continually evaluating the book of business to achieve balance, to grow revenue per account through rounding and to eliminate non-performing business
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