Disruptive technologies one of the buzz phrases of 2017, but what does it actually mean?

Joanna Seymour-Taylor

Corporate Communications Manager, Asia Pacific, Amadeus IT Group

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Frost & Sullivan’s annual conference in Singapore last week was themed around ‘Digital Disruption – Growth, Innovation and Leadership in Asia Pacific’. Executives from global corporations, across all industries came together to form a panel to discuss the topic.

One of the key areas of debate from the panel challenged the effects of disruption.

“We see disruption as positive, but as a larger corporation we need to be a lot more responsive to it. At Amadeus we have a team in place to predict what the future looks like, what the trends on the horizon are, and where we should be evolving as a business.” said Simon Akeroyd, VP for Corporate Strategy and Business Development, Amadeus Asia Pacific who sat on the highly acclaimed panel.

One panellist added, “To allow disruption to take place, a company has to have the ability to change fast with a sense of urgency.  This isn’t always the case in large corporations.”

Digital disruption isn’t something that is new, it has been around for years. When John Shepherd-Barron invented what is now known as an ATM machine back in 1967, it took a while to catch on. Banks were skeptical about storing large amounts of money in a ‘box’ outside their bank. When it caught on ten years later, the chairman of Citibank took a huge risk spending more than $100 million to install ATMs all over New York City.

The investment paid off when a huge storm hit New York that winter dumping 17 inches of snow on the city, banks were closed for days, but with Citibank’s newly installed machines New Yorkers were able to get money out. To this day Citibank still uses its well-known slogan, “The Citi Never Sleeps” - at the time this was a huge gamble taken by its chairman, taking a chance on new and exciting technology.

“Some believe investors aren’t currently as sophisticated as the disruptors” said another panellist. “The reason companies are being caught off guard is that they aren’t ready for the change, to get disruption you need to have diversity.”

This month saw the Amadeus Asia Pacific Corporate Strategy team launch a chatbot with a popular messaging app. The chatbot allows consumers to search for their flights through a messaging platform. “We predict messaging apps to have a huge impact on the travel industry over the coming years. With over 1.1 billion people in Asia Pacific alone on messaging platforms, it’s a huge sector for us to consider” said Akeroyd.

The panel concluded on the question: What do larger corporations need to do to keep up with these disrupters?  “Create a small group of people who are pre-disposed to be innovators, thinkers. Don’t filter their ideas and most importantly don’t be afraid of failure” ended Akeyrod.


Asia Pacific, Events