Innovators and early adopters are leading the way in all industries. We are at an exciting point in the evolution of technology. Disruptions can occur anywhere, and large corporations are not exempt from that. Two major examples come to mind, where innovations have turned from disruptions into making entire businesses redundant. The first; Kodak who believed that “People will always prefer film cameras, even if we invented digital ones” and Blockbuster who placed too much confidence in the assumption that “people don't want to watch films over the internet”.

It doesn’t matter if you are in technology, medicine, entertainment or pet grooming; regardless of the industry there are forces disrupting it.

Fresh thinking combined with the convergence of technology and ideas from different industries are unlocking so much potential for people and companies to take advantage of. I wrote earlier about technology being an enabler, it’s unleashing people’s imaginations and their drive to be better, do better and do it smarter.

But here’s the danger that most aren’t aware of yet. Throughout our history things have generally progressed in a linear fashion, usually in a gradual and manageable pace within a person’s lifetime. Thanks to the abundance of creativity in the technological world, things are changing exponentially.

A simple analogy is this, in a linear world if you take 30 steps, once you are finished you are thirty steps away from where you started, and usually in a position that was foreseeable from your starting point. This is the world that most people are comfortable with when dealing with and adapting to progress and change.

In the exponential world, if you take 30 steps, when you are finished you are 1 billion steps away from where you started and you couldn’t have imagined where you would end up when you first started. 100 years ago if a politician said something stupid on the other side of the world you would were never likely know about it in your lifetime, now you’ll get a push notification to your pocket minutes later. As humans we naturally think linearly, but the world is moving exponentially like an unpredictable explosion of ideas and growth.

The field service and contracting industries are seeing disruptions in methodology and technology all over the world and we see these disruptions emerging regularly. Up until the last couple of years these industries have been fairly slow to adapt, but that is changing... and fast. A couple of years ago field mobility was the battle-ground of the industry. Nowadays it’s assumed that people have a mobile strategy and its almost ubiquitous. Field service companies not yet running mobility solutions are being left behind. Now, we are seeing both methodology disruptions (new ways for companies to interact with their customers, sell services, streamline workflows) coming through much faster than before as well as technology disruptors.

The Internet of things, for example, is a major new influencing factor working its way into these industries. It’s not limited to manufacturing, smart cities, self-driving cars and smartphones. Sensors on equipment feeding back-end systems with data is fueling a drive away from reactive to proactive technologies, providing better levels of service to customers that's more cost effective and informative.

RADlabs are in the process of transforming a preventative maintenance program into a machine learning algorithm capable of ingesting very large datasets and spotting trends in real time, a task that a human could study for years and still may not achieve. The IoT projects we have delivered have offered our customers the chance to implement entirely new business models and have given these businesses first-mover advantages.

There are so many incredible innovations arriving every day which have the great potential to further a business’s success. The major challenge for decision makers is to anticipate and implement some of these ideas into their business strategies at the right time in order to take advantage of new opportunities.

Leaders who recognise these opportunities will serve their organisations best by leading a culture of change, navigate through the political waters and seizing the day when it arrives. The most effective leaders will be those that can innovate, adopt and take a position on future technological trends before the rest of their competitors do. The challenge will be to balance the scales between continually optimising how the business operates and looking for opportunities to innovate and disrupt their industries. We should be fostering a culture of innovation, iteration and improvement to empower individuals to be ready for it.

We touch on continual change in our pre-implementation course. Whilst this is a light touch on the topic, it’s useful to adopt these change management principles as a permanent practice to help keep the organisation ready for and looking for improvements.

Get used to learning and working things out. Use your gut and intuition, but also use the technology to your advantage to help guide decision making. Collaborate between people and machines, between artificial intelligence, machine learning and the people operating the company, your customers and your suppliers.

Change is coming, we must prepare for it, learn about it and embrace it when it comes… and get excited about it, opportunity abounds!