Earlier this year, we all watched as SpaceX successfully blasted one of the world’s most advanced rockets into orbit. Though the landmark launch was watched via Twitter on hand-held devices and desktop computers rather than traditional TVs with antennas, for many it was reminiscent of a bygone era when space travel was burgeoning with possibilities and set the bar for innovation and disruption.
Today, NASA, SpaceX and other pioneers in space travel are hardly the only ones known for being disruptors. The lightning speed of innovation has transcended industries and geographic borders. Ask anyone and they will rattle off familiar names such as Amazon, Tesla, Apple, IBM and Google. These disruptors have had a far more immediate and direct effect by altering the way we, as consumers, live and work and play.
But innovation isn’t driven exclusively by household names with a lion’s share of the market.
Driving Innovation Everywhere
Lesser-known companies that aren’t global behemoths have become industry disruptors in their own right thanks to big data analytics and advances in technology. Just look at the transportation industry, for example, which has been disrupted by companies such as Uber, Lyft and Waze with the advent and meteoric rise of ride-hailing apps. But we can’t ignore the influx of other disruptors in the space — from Via (an on-demand transit system) to Citymapper (a mobile- and data-driven transportation service to navigate cities) to Chariot (an on-demand shuttle service).
You may have heard that Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan recently teamed up to try to disrupt the health care industry. However, smaller companies such as Innoplex, Ginger.io and PeraHealth are leveraging big data — and in some cases artificial intelligence and machine learning — to make their mark on the health care industry and provide avant-garde solutions with the ultimate goal of better patient care.
As complex and intricate as the transportation and health care industries are, the common denominator is how data and technology are being leveraged to provide an unparalleled user experience that also puts the power in the hands of consumers.
Disrupting the World of Human Capital
Closer to home, our own HR industry is no stranger to disruptors, especially following the rise of AI, automation, machine learning and more. More than 1 in 10 HR managers are already seeing evidence of AI becoming a regular part of HR, and 55 percent predict it will be within the next five years.
What’s been fascinating to see is where these innovations influence the industry. Technology isn’t displacing HR workers, it’s speeding up the recruitment process so they have more time to actually engage with candidates and look beyond the resume. We’re seeing everything from AI being used to assess candidates during video interviews to using algorithms to assess candidates’ skills.
How to Become a Disruptive Company
How can you take advantage of technology and talent to become a disruptive company? Here are three tips:
- Train staff to be innovators: Innovation is not something a person is born with; it can be learned. But training people to be innovative is not just about teaching a specific range of skills. Successful innovation training is embedding innovation-specific knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) into employees.
- Change the culture: While every business starts from an entrepreneurial mindset, with somebody delivering a new or improved product or service to the market, companies often become less forward-thinking, taking a more defensive position as opposed to offensive, as they grow. To be a disruptor, you need change embedded in your culture, and one way to do that is to give employees flexibility to generate ideas. Some call this “Google time,” or giving employees a few hours a week to experiment, work on projects that are outside of their jobs, to read or to solve problems. Regardless of how you do it, it’s about making sure employees know you are open to innovation.
- Hire for disruptors: Creating a culture of innovation starts with your hiring process, and hiring for innovation presents challenges to traditional hiring practices and requires an innovative approach. For example, one company that hires for innovation is Uber. While the Uber team won’t disclose specifics about the exercises, they do put candidates in real-world situations by using exercises and tests that gauge both creativity and analytical thinking.
AI, automation and machine learning continue to disrupt and evolve our industry, catapulting it into the 21st century. The future remains brimming with possibilities.