Digital Disrupters: What Makes A True Innovator?

Digital Disrupters: What Makes A True Innovator?

Let’s face it, digital disrupters are changing the face of the world as we know it. From the way we consume TV, to how we order a taxi, digital innovators have taken the rug we once stood on, shaken it, pulled it out from under us and refashioned it in something extremely comfortable.

And that’s just it. The reason why the big digital disrupters are so successful is because they’ve created offerings that fit so seamlessly with our lives, it’s a joy. Today, we’re all about convenience, and this is a trend that extends from the youngest users right through to the oldest. The tech is there to enhance our lives, but regardless of whether you are talking about ordering a takeaway or choosing a smartphone, every true digital disrupter has these common attributes. And it’s these things that have made them the powerhouses they now are.

Disrupters see things differently

The interesting thing about these digital innovators is that they haven’t reinvented the wheel, so to speak. What they have done, is look to what’s already there, and found new ways to add value to our daily lives. They’ve essentially kept the idea of making our lives better at the core of their service offering.

Anyone who remembers Apple’s “think different” campaign from the ’90s will have a good idea of what this means. Apple chose that slogan for the exact reasons we’ve talked about. They had the same opportunity to access talented developers and modern technology as anyone. What set them apart was their vision.

That can be applied to any current digital disrupter. They have the same platforms at their fingertips. But they’re obsessed with doing it better, more efficiently, with absolute focus, and doing it differently.

Disrupters put the customers first

There’s only one legitimate reason for ticking all those boxes: making a product better, more efficient and more focussed. And that’s to deliver something that stands out to the customer. Without that driving force, there’s no real purpose for designing something fresh.

All digital disrupters have their customers front and centre to any design. By harnessing the potential of apps and different digital platforms to offer ultimate convenience is one thing, but they go one step further, opening the doors to personalisation and contextual services. In short, by continually reviewing and improving its services to fit with their customers.

Companies from YouTube to Uber know just how important it is to design around the customer. That’s what’s made them such an integral part of our day-to-day.

Disrupters know how to use big data

First off, what is big data? It’s a huge amount of information that can be broken down to reveal trends and insights. Today’s technology enables companies to do that. But a product is only as good as the data it’s built on.

The real digital disrupters have used big data in the right way, to gather insights that have changed the direction of their service offering. As many an expert has pointed out, trying to do things in a whole new way isn’t something that’s come with the growth in technology. But data gives businesses a unique view into customers en masse, and that is new.

By using this information companies are able to redefine what they represent to their customers, tapping into trending behaviours. Whether that’s wellness, lifestyle, or healthcare. The list goes on. And what they really offer is something that the customers desire or need. There’s very little guesswork. The focus is absolutely on developing something those customers will love, rather than designing products and trying to persuade a customer that they need them.

Disrupters reinvent concepts

It seems that reimagining things that slot into our lives as opposed to creating things and trying to get our buy-in is a running theme. Think of TV as an example. Traditionally, the majority of broadcasted shows were based on concepts that came from behind closed doors at TV studios.

You only need to look at digital disrupter extraordinaire, Netflix, to see just how they took that idea and turned it on its head. If you have data-powered intel, why play a guessing game on what people may or may like to watch? Netflix took matters into their own hands, developing concepts for films and TV shows based on direct feedback from their customers. Clever AI and algorithms enable Netflix to see what’s trending, and what people want more of. That forms the basis of their programmatic output. There’s nothing more customer-centric than that!

Disrupters add value

There are digital disrupters across industries, and although they are absolutely varied in terms of products or services, they all share some common attributes. Most tie back into the idea of keeping customers at the heart of everything they do. Netflix, Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, they all develop apps and platforms that add value to their customer’s lives.

The only way to do this successfully is through having the vision and the data to pull it off. Without one or the other, the idea would simply fall flat. Being able to see how a thing can be improved or reinvented to bring people something fresh, exciting and useful is one thing. Accessing big data to garner insights that help in product design in another.

In short, you could say that all digital disrupters share three defining characteristics. They have the concept. They use the data. And they have a genuine customer-centric outlook. Those are the things that give digital disrupters their superpowers in a marketplace that’s always on the move.

Andrew Machin
Andrew Machin

With over 15 years’ experience in web design and digital marketing Andrew has helped many brands, both in the UK and US, create exceptional digital experiences, from websites to in-store retail experiences, such as John Lewis, Jet2, Virgin Holidays and Interflora.

Through the success of such projects Andrew has received accolades that include high-profile awards that span innovation, strategy, design and results such as the Dadi Grand Prix Award and the Digital Impact Award for Innovation.

This experience has led to Andrew judging digital design awards, been featured in .net magazine, lecturing at Leeds university and speak at seminars and conferences across the UK.

Follow Andrew @The_Machin

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