I recently had the pleasure of attending a CMO Panel at C2MTL in Montreal. A Business Conference, with a difference, which incidentally won the award for best business conference in 2014. At the end of the panel, Vince Timpano, CEO of Aimia Canada and moderator of the discussion asked all attendees what keeps them awake at night. My response to this question: Am I disrupting or am I being disrupted? Allow me to give some context.

In 2014, Gartner published a study on the Digital Industrial Revolution, industry convergence. Reading through this study, we can see familiar and also new patterns when comparing the current industry transformation with the industrial revolution in the 19th century.

Over a century ago, our predecessors witnessed new business models and companies began rising from the ground with the support of new technologies. Contemporary business ideas fed by these opportunities were then born and delivered mass cultural transformations into our civilization.

Financial innovations were supporting new business models as technologies like the steam machine enabled industrial production to bring wealth (and social challenges) to the ever growing population. The industrial revolution was born!

Are we facing a new industrial revolution?

Today, we are facing very similar patterns, situations and opportunities as new technologies continually enable anyone to build new business ideas and instantly connect them to millions of users who are always online.

Changing Culture

At the very same time, our communication, values, and social well-being as a civilization are rapidly transforming. People now want to see and feel a purpose, especially as Gen Y continue to lead the way in demanding new ways to engage with companies, people and also the changing of work behaviours. Social businesses, team led organizations vs. hierarchical oriented organizations are just a few of these examples.

People now want to see and feel a purpose

This new generation lives in the world of sharing vs. owning. They are changing the rules of the game with a desire to establish both purpose and values connected to businesses.

Virgin Unite, the entrepreneurial basis of the Virgin Group founded by Sir Richard Branson outline this phenomenon well in a blog on their site.

Ubiquitous digital world

Additionally, we now live in an always-on, ubiquitous digital world where real meaning, value, and living for the moment are paramount. Technologies like wearable, IoT, Smartphones are connecting our old traditional analogue world with the digital world. With this in mind, it’s not hard to see how this has dramatically impacted our culture and how we now drive a business forward.

The combination of new technologies, new business ideas, and cultural transformation has seen the rise of new start-up’s funded, endorsed and leveraged by the global community. Increasingly this is disrupting the status quo by questioning the traditional methods from before.

The current climate has strong echoes of the 19th century and the industrial revolution, in many ways it currently feels that we are in the midst of the Digital Industrial Revolution. Relatively new companies are arriving on the scene such as Uber, Pixhug and AirBnB and are demonstrating where this brave new world is heading.

Neither Uber nor AirBnB or many other start-ups owns or operates the “inventory” for their service in which they deliver. Equally these companies build and rely on technology to connect demand and are continuously building on the cultural transformation.

These companies were disrupting the status quo and have rejected the traditional business models to operate with a new Gen Y Culture. These new kids on the block have a strong emphasis on having a purpose, vision, and a passion for ubiquitously running in an always-connected world.

Essentially, rather than build on the current business model, they evolved, questioned and disrupted.

Are you challenging the status quo or defending it?

Now the big questions are. Are you a disruptor or are you being disrupted? Are you challenging the status quo or defending it? If we are facing such an industrial revolution, what is the impact on your leadership, marketing and your business model? Ultimately your answers could be your saviour or your demise in the new digital world.

Join me in a conversations on the digital industrial revolution and on new leadership/marketing for the new world we are facing.