Much has been written about how technology is transforming education. Still, more has been written about how technology is driving disruption in business. Less explored is a question posed by the intersection of those ideas: how can technology help business leaders to educate themselves about potentially disruptive opportunities and threats?
Executives have always needed to keep abreast of what’s on the horizon in their industry, a need becoming more acute as technology prompts ever faster change. Traditionally, industry-specific media and corporate training met this need, focusing by their nature on an industry’s core more than on its periphery. Increasingly, though, disruption comes from the periphery. Business leaders need new mechanisms to keep on top of trends that emerge on the edges of their industries, or that cross over from different sectors altogether.
For example, start with the sharing economy. Specifically, take Airbnb, which was founded in 2008 and is now valued at about $10 billion. Airbnb connects people with rentable property, from spare rooms to second homes, and travellers seeking short-term accommodation. While not an exact substitute for staying in hotels, it certainly competes in the hotel industry’s space. So where might a hotel executive have looked, in 2008, to be alerted to such a potential competitor?