Digital transformation is the unstoppable forward march of technology. This disruption can come from anywhere, and often seems to come out of nowhere.
For example, the hotel industry has been disrupted a number of times. Finding a hotel once required driving through a town looking for a neon vacancy sign. Phone books were perhaps the first disruptor, and hotels that were listed had the advantage. The internet was the second disruptor: Hotels with websites booked web-savvy guests, while those without an online presence could not. Travel websites that aggregated travel fares and bookings through application programming interfaces (APIs) were the third disruptor. Hotels that incorporated standard APIs and connected with travel sites benefited.* The fourth and current disruptor is mobile phones, which led to a sharing economy that’s redefining the entire hotel industry. Travelers can now bypass hotels by renting someone’s couch, room, apartment, or home.
Disruptive tools lead to disruptive ideas, which lead to disruptive practices. Think about it: Mobile phones existed before the sharing economy was made practical. APIs reduced barriers to new customers and travel aggregate sites took advantage of that; mobile phones simplified customer access and eager property owners took advantage of that. Disruptors outside the market (APIs and mobile phones) can lead to disruptors inside the market (travel aggregate sites and sharing economy apps). See? It’s all connected.