Disruptor! Is it a positive or negative term?

Kim Krollman of global relocation company Chamness Worldwide explores the concept of being a disruptor and whether this can have a positive impact on the global mobility industry.

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I must admit when I heard the sentence, “We want to be a disruptor in the industry” for the first time my first thought was “Goodness me why? That sounds so negative.” Perhaps I’m just of a generation where anything disruptive was never good? The Webster Dictionary definition of ‘disrupt’ is, “to interrupt the normal course of unity”, that’s a sentence that may instill fear in some people. However, what I quickly learned is that, in today’s business environment, being a disruptor is generally viewed as a good thing.   So, let’s explore how being a disruptor in the mobility industry has actually had a positive impact on our industry, while interrupting the normal course of unity. 

Technology has impacted on long-standing business relationships

Traditionally the relocation and mobility industry has always been about strong, long-standing relationships and partnerships. In the past decade or so that has changed in so many ways, now that we have incorporated technology into those relationships and partnerships. In many cases this started in the early 2000’s with the introduction of the dreaded ‘on-line auctions’. A tool used by procurement departments during an RFP to select a provider based almost entirely on price. Thankfully, that tool didn’t quite ‘stick’ in the industry and I’d definitely say that was a negative disruptor. It didn’t allow for the strength of the relationship or partnership to play a particularly large part in the decision-making process and, to all our relief, it didn’t last too long in our industry.

Bid platforms have been a win-win for everyone

From that on-line auction concept however sprang several disruptors that were, and continue to be, much more positive. For example, bid platforms for temp living options are now more the norm, rather than the exception, and they have become sophisticated tools that satisfy the needs of procurement departments, HR or RMC’s, the transferee and the temp living companies. They offer more choice, more competitive pricing and in-depth data analysis and reporting. A clear win-win for everyone – and a positive disruptor.Another industry disruptor – and positive game changer – has been coopetition in certain supply lines such as DSP, temp living and household goods. Again, this was terrifying to consider not that many years ago, when we all wanted to hold our clients close and keep them to ourselves. However, at the end of the day it was a smart move to work with our competitors, not against them, to meet the needs of all our clients and transferees both here in the US and globally. This is a trend that continues to grow and helps strengthen all our partnerships, as it allows us to offer solutions to our clients that we would never have been able to offer without this type of synergy.

Uber, Lyft and Airbnb have taken a large market share

It's been a fast-moving decade with disruptors, such as shared economy companies like Uber / Lyft and Airbnb all entering the mobility space. Car service companies have certainly taken a hit for airport pick-ups when transferees can now call an Uber or Lyft when they land, instead of having to wait for a driver to collect them from a pre-ordered car service. Airbnb has made a very valiant attempt to enter the world of temp living and while many corporate clients are still somewhat leery of this concept due to personal safety and security concerns, there is no denying that it’s taken a chunk of the market share, especially with the millennial population.  

Millenials are disruptors

And, speaking of millennials, they themselves have been disruptors in our industry. As has been discussed many times, this generation is vastly different to any other in that they have moved across the country or globally. They have made us change the way we look at our industry in so many ways and have led the way for mobile apps, self service tools and data analytics. Flexible work hours, virtual offices and work life balance are all expectations of this generation. Clear disruptors of the “normal course of unity” of a decade ago.  The millennial generation will make up 50 per cent of the US workforce by 2020 and over 75 per cent of the global workforce by 2025 according to Inc.com.  As mentioned, this is a generation of disruptors and thought leaders. Change is constant for them and they embrace it as the norm in their lifetimes. With that in mind, we must continue to encourage these new concepts and ideas that they bring to our organizations. We must learn from them to challenge the status quo and embrace new ideas. So, it seems that disruptors can indeed have a positive impact on our industry, they force us to think differently, behave differently, embrace change and continue to grow and develop our products and services, while also recognizing and appreciating our teams, clients and transferees. Keep in mind as we move forward, you can either disrupt or be disrupted! Be forward thinking, challenge the norm and you will always be ahead of your competition and not in fear of them. For more information about Chamness Worldwide contact: http://www.chamnessrelo.comSubscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory