Disrupting Dinosaur Industries

by on April 24, 2015

The word “disruption” has been thrown around by tons of startups in their quest to be the next UberAirbnbAppDirect or Netflix. Easier said than done! Disruption is about creating new behaviours, changing the way industries do business, the way they sell their products and how their customers consume. Software, the web, SAAS models and especially mobile are all helping fuel massive change for both consumers and businesses.

Companies setting out to wake up a dinosaur first need to look at why they have been doing things the same way for years, decades and maybe even centuries.

Let’s take the case of TrackTik which is working to change the way the physical security guard industry serves its customers. And let’s face it, (yawn) the security guard industry does seem like one of those dinosaurs that needed to be woken up.

(Disclaimer: not all guards sleep on the job)

Below are a few of my tips on changing old ways in big companies.

1- Understand who you are disrupting

Large industries are complex and processes are hard to change. Like a big ship, they turn slowly and not everyone is on board for change. Understanding their mindset and their culture is key to finding the right strategy. TrackTik spent over a year discussing with industry players to understand how decisions were being made and what were the motivations of each level of management and of their partners. Understanding the inner workings of a large company is extremely difficult for a startup because they come from another dimension. To disrupt, you need an internal perspective.

2- Understand why they have been doing things the same way for years

Some companies don’t use a better way because they either don’t know another way or because change is just too hard. Large company culture is often the culprit. Dax Dasilva CEO of LightSpeed said it well – “Culture comes from the top down”. Often it takes an outsider to challenge old ways. Status quo is a competitor and many entrepreneurs forget that. Your job is to instigate change.

3- Find your champion, and identify your nemesis.

A solution that requires IT policy changes can be blocked by an IT director, or a solution that will impact hiring or create layoffs may be challenged by the head of HR. If a solution makes a business more competitive, or can help increase revenue, it is an easier win. Top management prioritizes those solutions. TrackTik helps their customers increase revenue, be more efficient and offer better service. This is probably why they signed four of the industry’s largest security players in North America. Once the biggest players set the standard, their competitors are forced to follow and that helps create industry change.

4- Understand if your solution is a “pain killer or a vitamin”

I was lucky enough to hear Nir Eyal speak at iNovia’s CEO Summit last year, and discuss his fascinating book called Hooked. Nir refers to solutions that are either vitamins or pain killers. Being a vitamin is a nice to have. But offering a painkiller gets people’s attention, especially if in pain! The bigger the pain, the better. Managing thousands of guards that fax in their reports on paper, monitoring their whereabouts, managing schedules and customer communications was clearly a huge pain. In short, if you’re helping eliminate pain, you become a priority.

4- Saving your customers money or increasing their revenue.

The more you prioritize on saving your customer money and helping to increase their revenue, whether directly or indirectly, and the more measurable the results, the faster these solutions get adopted.

5- “Land and Expand”

I love the term “land and expand”. It refers to getting into the enterprise any which way you can and then expanding sales efforts. Solutions that can get into the customer’s hands easily (ex: on a personal expense account) and which require little formal approval, land quicker inside the company. Then your sales representatives become your internal champions — the users that love pain relief!