The Edge of Disruption

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The Edge of Disruption

By Byron Whetstone, American Direct President

Many companies today are being forced to make significant adjustments to their business models because technology has been changing the methods by which they operate effectively and profitably.

The well-known author Thomas Friedman, writes in his newest book, Thank You for Being Late, that we are in the “Age of Accelerations”, and his argument is “…the exponential increase in computing power has a lot to do with it.” Friedman’s overarching viewpoint is that in the year 2007, there was a major inflection point that included the release of the iPhone, advances in silicon chips, software, storage, sensors, and social networking that created a new technology platform which is reshaping everything and is creating vast new opportunities.

A few years ago, I encountered the phrase “Disruption is forcing incumbent companies into irrelevancy”. Today, I would agree that we are all now living in a world of disruption and I would, like Friedman, posit that there are certain places where innovation is allowing for major forces to stake definitive claims in the future.

At American Direct, we believe that one of the major forces of change in the future is how safety and security is emphasized in all the buildings we encounter in our daily lives.

The environment in which we live and work is now forever occupied by the “hostile” adversary. You can call the adversary whatever name you choose – terrorist, lone wolf, active shooter, cyber-hacker, and whatever else – but the harsh reality is that these are all permanent issues (hostilities) and there is no grand government or law enforcement solution to address them.

The reality of life in our industry is about providing for the safety and security for humanity. We all expect thoughtful people to anticipate the hostile environment and act accordingly. Safety and security is equal to ‘trust’ in today’s world, and we have to provide solutions to solving the safety and security risks we face every day.

In our business, the traditional channels for products and services that are solving these risks are fragmented and poorly aligned. Furthermore, the disruptions being pushed by technology and innovation are challenging traditional product delivery methods.

Collaboration is not a long-term viable solution because it creates many places for breach and causes us to react as opposed to predict the coming hostility or bad actor.

This also means that the environment for companies, like American Direct, to want to ‘fill a void’ in the market, places us on the edge of disruption. At American Direct, we believe we are creating a new channel for this marketplace.

I was recently with the upper management team of a large industry manufacturer and one of the leaders said to me,
“As always, you are walking a different path and are creating a ‘hybrid distribution channel’ and we don’t really know how to address your strategy.” This is another way of saying that disruption is happening right now.

For many of us, this means that the safety and security channel of the future must change course to be able to integrate physical security with the re-definition of digital credentials, connected buildings, the proliferation of sensors, wired and wireless requirements, and the virtual building design. This integration must occur without convenience of use ever being jeopardized.

The industry IS changing super-fast, and the primary dilemma we all face is to anticipate the momentum of disruption because disruptors create markets for products and services and disruptors ‘add value’ in new ways. We have serious work to do.