10 ways to brace your company for the major disruptors ahead

Disruption. One small word but an enormous impact. It has been everywhere this week.


Think about the surprise collapse of the £22bn Publicis and Omnicom merger, disrupting the marketing services industry; or the launch of Tesco ‘pound zones’ to combat the disruptive effect of discounters such as Aldi and Lidl on the supermarket sector.

We look at how brands can adapt to disruption in their sector in our Essential Read here. But what is clear is that there is more to come.

WPP chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell revealed his 10 key trends for the future at the IAA World Congress in Beijing earlier this week. They are worth a read. Broadly, Sorrell laid out the following trends.

1. The shift of power to the east, south and south east. While the US still sits at the centre of global power, Sorrell says the focus should be on not only the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) but other up and coming nations.

2. Shortage of human capital and overcapacity or overproduction. In some industries, such as automotive, there is massive capacity but changing lifestyles and ageing populations mean there is less demand.

3. The continued rise of the web. Twelve years ago, WPP’s digital business was zero; now it makes up 30 per cent of the group.

4. Growth of retail power. There is a changing relationship between retailers and consumers, with busy, two-earner families using ecommerce more frequently.

5. The importance of data. Its role within organisations and their communications is growing.

6. Global and local structure change. Growing influence of areas such as Africa is causing significant change and a power shift within company structures.

7. The relative power of finance and procurement. Sorrell argues there needs to be a more balanced approach to the marketing functions and finance. This is a global issue, not just a Western one.

8. The growth of government. WPP has government clients in almost every country and these are significant players. In China, there is an element of government-run capitalism.

9. Corporate social responsibility goes mainstream. The issue of sustainability is now considerable and seen as a positive business move for companies.

10. Industry consolidation. The failure of the Publicis and Omnicom Group merger to proceed does not mean that consolidation is at an end. Expect more to come.

Sorrell’s list does not contain any surprises. But I think it’s a useful guide that everyone should read. If you can look at points 1-10 and honestly say your organisation is prepared for and dealing with all these areas, you are probably ready to make an opportunity out of disruption.

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