The business landscape is changing, and businesses have to be prepared. New technologies and business models are disrupting every industry, from retail to transportation. And even in industries that seem safe and steady, companies still won’t catch a break. Digital disruption has become the order of the day, and it can either be an opportunity or a source of chaos for companies.

New technologies and disruptors in the digital age

The digital age brought new technologies like blockchain, 3D printing, cloud computing and artificial intelligence, which have transformed how companies operate and disrupted many legacy industries in the process. Take tech giants like Amazon and Google, for example. Both companies have created online marketplaces that have taken over entire industries. Amazon has become one of the biggest retailers in the United States of America, while Google dominates online advertising globally. Businesses in these sectors are facing severe challenges due to these digital disruptors.

The same goes for numerous other sectors: ride-sharing companies like Uber and Bolt have disrupted traditional taxi services, Airbnb has disrupted the hospitality industry, and so forth. The list goes on and on, but there are likely similar challenges at play no matter the sector. In South Africa, the demand for time-saving convenience has led many grocery retailers to rethink their delivery options. For example, Shoprite Checkers launched its Checkers 60Sixty delivery app and service to limited markets in 2019; however, demand during the lockdown led them to accelerate the roll-out.

The success of Checkers Sixty60 inspired other industry players to offer a similar service. Woolworths launched Woolies Dash, an on-demand, same-day delivery service, and Pick n Pay acquired Bottles (now named Pick ‘n Pay ASAP) for approximately R33 million. Bottles was a same-day alcohol delivery app that transitioned into a grocery delivery. Checkers disrupted the industry

The art and science of internally-driven disruption

However, disruption doesn’t just come from outside your business: it can also be internally driven. Employees who are empowered with more autonomy often create disruptive innovations. Internally driven disruption can be a welcome opportunity to improve efficiency and productivity. For example, artificial intelligence is a significant disruptor that many companies can reach new markets and consumers. Start-ups like FinChatBot, use conversational artificial intelligence to help financial service providers acquire and retain customers and decrease operating costs.

e-Commerce websites like Takealot make shopping more accessible than ever by saving customers time and money. But this is just the beginning: The potential for digital technology and new business models to disrupt the retail sector goes far beyond what we’ve seen so far. We’re not just talking about making shopping easy; we’re talking about revolutionising how consumers shop altogether. And companies that can harness the power of digital transformation in response to digital disruptions will reap substantial financial rewards.

It is clear that digital disruption has become a common phenomenon. It’s everywhere, and it’s not slowing down – it’s the new normal. But whether digital disruption is an opportunity or a source of chaos depends on how you approach it.

How do you know if your company is ready for digital disruption? Here are some questions to ask:
  • Are you open to new models of doing business?
  • Do you want to expand outside of your comfort zone?
  • Do you see the value of new technology?
  • Do you want to work differently with your employees and external partners?



Nowadays, every company is either being disrupted or is disrupting others. The most successful companies are the ones that embrace change instead of resisting it. By understanding the disruption that is happening in your industry, you can make more significant strides toward success.

Article written by Ofentse Olunloyo, Head: Marketing, Johannesburg Business School,