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Embrace disruption

By Dan Teuton
14 March 2018

How do you stay ahead of game-changing market innovations? Simple – be prepared to shake up your own business, writes Kapil Davda, partner, Haines Watts.

Watching TV, hailing a cab or finding a place to stay while travelling?

Market disruptors have transformed a host of everyday activities over the past few years. But disruption isn’t just for the likes of Netflix, Uber and Airbnb. Businesses of all sizes across every sector need to be aware of the threats and opportunities; no firm can afford to be complacent. Businesses in every field need to be constantly reviewing their offerings so they can identify how they can be improved in the light of new technologies.

Natural disruptors

I work with many high-tech SMEs with ambitions to shake up the markets they operate in. Small businesses are natural disruptors. But, disruptors need to be prepared for the side-effects of success. Uber, for example, has been in the news of late for several reasons, including a data breach that took place during its rapid growth phase. Disruptors need to get their products to the market as quickly as possible, but sometimes they don’t always consider all the management and compliance implications of that.

Alternatives to labour

Even SMEs that are not seeking to disrupt their own markets need to be prepared to take advantage of market-changing technology. Breakthroughs in artificial intelligence are transforming industries from manufacturing to accountancy – but many firms have held off investing. Labour costs have been cheap, but this may change. Many of my clients are already finding recruitment a big issue as Brexit starts to affect the labour market. That’s when investment in technology comes into its own – whether that’s introducing robotics in production facilities, or adopting the latest software that reads and analyses legal documents.

So, while this perpetual disruption can be overwhelming, the best strategy is to stay alert and open to change. SMEs have an edge here: smaller businesses don’t have legacy systems and they can move fairly nimbly to adopt the most cost-effective technology.

Five ways to stay ahead

  1. Review your products or services constantly in the light of changing technology.
  2. Benchmark your business against your competitors’ offerings.
  3. Review your strategic direction – and be prepared to alter your core purpose if needed.
  4. Analyse the latest technologies to assess how they could improve your operation.
  5. Think about the range of options to fund innovation, from traditional channels to angel investment or even R&D credits.

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