The Price of Innovation

The business world is a chaotic and turbulent place. The pace of innovation is expanding. New technologies are changing the face of traditional industries and introducing new, disruptive competitors. The media continually focuses on the benefits of automation, virtual reality (VR), and other new and exciting ways business will change in the near future. What are missing are the consequences of new technologies and innovation. Leaders need to understand short and long-term disruptions to current business practices.

Prepare to be Disrupted

New innovations often disrupt the status quo and catch individuals and organizations off-guard. The share economy is changing two mainstream industries, taxis and hotels. Uber and Airbnb have disrupted both industries worrying incumbents and the employees who have worked in these traditional segments. As change occurs, traditional businesses are often negatively impacted as they struggle against a tidal wave of change and new competitors.

The automotive industry is not the only industry that will be impacted by automation. Manufacturing and healthcare will also experience significant change due to automation. Manufacturing is quickly moving towards full robotic “workforces”. China will see the biggest disruption in this trend.

The Chinese government is currently supporting robotic manufacturing as the country struggles with maintaining the world’s factory base as wages quickly rise and a lack of workers challenges future growth. The transition to a “worker-less” factory is an impending revolution in China, Japan, and other countries where workers are hard-to-find for repetitive, manual labor and labor costs continue to rise.

Healthcare will also experience radical changes due to automation. As self-driving vehicles quickly gain acceptance, analysts estimate a future shortage of donor organs. As ghoulish as it sounds, the main source of donor organs are from automobile accidents. As self-driving vehicles are expected to reduce accidents by as much as 80%, there will be a large reduction in available organ candidates. All this change does have upsides to these expected downsides.

New technologies and innovations will fill-in these gaps. Automation that replaces factory workers may be offset by possible universal basic incomes and new industries to employ the soon-to-be unemployed. Organs typically harvested from accident victims will be grown in laboratories. All this change disrupts the status quo and results in short-term pain, but many long-term opportunities.

Be Prepared

The individuals on the frontlines (e.g., taxi drivers, hotel employees, factory workers) are often the hardest hit in the short term. Change is not to be fought but needs to be accepted, embraced, and challenged. Too often new trends are ignored until it is too late. Leaders need to avoid useless grasps to maintain the status quo. Leaders need to carefully identify industry-changing trends and prepare the organization for the eventual shifts.

The taxi and hotel industries are spending too much time fighting the future instead of embracing it and developing counter strategies to the Ubers and Airbnbs. Unions are fighting tooth-and-nail to maintain current work standards that were developed in the early 1900s. As the adoption of robot workforces expand, factory workers should be focused on gaining new skills for the next chapter of work, instead of being led kicking-and-screaming from the floors of these new “worker-less” factories.


It is critical to anticipate and embrace future trends. As new technologies disrupt the status quo and eliminate traditional jobs, everyone must become agile strategists. Every individual needs to understand where their current job and industry are in terms of new trends. The importance of a proactive profession and industry evaluation is critical for a secure future.

New trends such as automation, virtual reality (VR), the decline of brick-and mortar retail, growing nationalism, the continued rise of terrorism, and other large-scale disruptions will affect various aspects of the business community; positively and negatively (e.g., cashiers, accountants, lawyers, bus drivers, truck drivers, security firms). It is up to individuals and leaders to proactively address changes and develop effective solutions to thrive and prosper. Don’t let the future sneak-up. Review how the future can impact your business. Embrace change and use strategic agility to take advantage of the next big trends.