How does an incumbent company get new ideas, innovate and do bold things with products and services when dozens of start-ups are reinventing its industry? It’s a topic my colleague, Simon Devonshire OBE, touched on his recent blog, The rise of the [metaphorically] two-footed CEO, and is the topic of a talk I recently attended by David Rowan, former editor of Wired magazine. Rowan has studied the approaches a range of established businesses, large and small, have used to disrupt their businesses, often finding complementary ways to interact with customers to create new and significant revenue models. This has included:

  • turning products into services: a book shop that curates libraries as well as selling books, a bank that has evolved car loans into a ‘car as a service’ mobility offering and health insurance into a hospital network;
  • embracing unmet needs: Australia’s National Roads and Motorists’ Association turned headwinds such as the electrification of cars, ride-sharing and infrequent customer touch points into opportunities by moving its focus from just the vehicle to transport and tourism too. It’s rolling out the country’s biggest fast-charge network, embedding data-capturing devices in members’ cars to offer remote servicing, offering car loans and discounts across thousands of products, has acquired a commuter and tourist ferry business, bought over 40 holiday parks and now controls the Travelodge hotel chain;
  • reframing your value: Qantas created new businesses based on insights from its loyalty programme, from wine clubs to life insurance, which now account for a third of group profits. 

These are just three examples from the 16 strategies Rowan uncovered. 16 different approaches but the one thing which connected all of them was the realisation that innovation is everyone's job.