Business Strategy | Leadership / Management

Disruption won’t kill you. Fighting it will.

Disruption brings out the innovator in all of us. Nothing kicks our butts into gear faster than a new kid who does what we do, only better.

Before all of that innovation, though, things can get pretty ugly. Just look at the mess Uber has created.

The San Francisco-based ride-sharing service has completely disrupted the taxi industry with a brilliant plan: Users create an Uber account online and enter payment information. They use an app to call for a ride. Using location-based technology, the nearest Uber driver picks up the rider and takes her to her destination, where she simply hops out of the car. No payment. No tips. The rider receives a receipt via e-mail, with tip included.

Cab drivers are livid. They say Uber and other, similar services are skirting the rules because they don’t operate under the same set of regulations that govern the taxi industry.

What the cab drivers are really upset about, though, is that someone came along and figured out how to do what they do, only better. WAY better, in fact. What they’re really upset about is that their business model is dead. The era of the taxi is over. Thanks to Uber and Lyft, the genie is out of the bottle. You won’t ever get from here to there the same way again.

Uber, Lyft, Square, AirBNB — they have completely disrupted their industries. How soon before a groundbreaking disrupter invades the CPA profession?

Sooner than you think. It’s coming. Count on it.

Will you be ready?

Even in this world of information overload, there is an astounding amount of stuff we don’t know. At the 2014 Sage Summit, Jay Bowden, Google’s director of digital sales and management, said Google receives 6 billion questions per day, of which 1 billion have never been asked before.

“We are utilizing only 1 percent of all of the data that’s available today,” Bowden said. 

Here’s what he didn’t have to say: Huge opportunities await those who can mine that data and disrupt the world as we know it.

The key is anticipation — to identify trends, understand how those trends will impact our world, and position ourselves to solve the problems that those trends will inevitably create.

Our clients are struggling with the same questions and chaos that we are. Imagine how important we will be to them if we can help them understand and take advantage of these trends.

Think about a CPA’s mission — to make sense of a changing and complex world. 

The time to fulfill that mission has come.

“The best time to plant a tree was 50 years ago,” said Bowden, channeling a brilliant Chinese proverb. “The second best time is today.”

Those who anticipate the changes on the horizon will rule the world to come. Why? Because they will help their clients take advantage of those changes as well.

Will you be one of them?


Bill Sheridan