By Sophy Edmonds. (4 minute read). Image sourced from Shutterstock #1183644253.

Last month I went to a fascinating one day “Disruptive Influences – And What To Do With Them” event sponsored by the QUT Real World Futures Program.

A disruptive influence can cause problems and prevent something from continuing in its usual way.  The Program’s starting point was that technology will change and organisations need to pinpoint the threats and opportunities within their own markets

Speakers Steve Johnston, Group CFO of Suncorp, Queensland’s largest company, and Gavin Smith, President and Chairman of Robert Bosch Australia, emphasised that businesses of all sizes have to remain vigilant to changes in their market place. They asserted the importance of regular horizon scanning and analysis of the competition in good business planning.

Tech start-ups can often be disruptive influences on more established businesses. With their nimbleness and their ‘what have we got to lose?’ ‘fail fast attitude’, they are capable of quickly taking on the corporate Goliaths of the world and bringing them to their knees.

Even if you don’t think tech start-ups are your key competition at the moment, be prepared to think again. Today, it is important to be able to identify threats before they quickly become major obstacles.

Indeed, threats may not be the most obvious ones or the ones right in front of you, like your well-known competition. They may be an as-yet unknown start up- whether technology based or not- which is developing a faster or more nimble way to achieve something at the core of your business.

Threats As Opportunities

As a Brisbane marketing consultancy, we research and prepare a lot of situational analyses for clients and recognise the importance of doing this on a regular basis to inform business and marketing strategy and planning.

As such, I really appreciated it when Professor Michael Rosemann, QUT’s Executive Director of Corporate Engagement, International and Development, challenged us to be ambitious and find ways in which major disruptive threats, such as a Royal Commission (think aged care quality or safety or financial services), can be viewed as an opportunity.

He posed the question: “If you’ve lost the trust of your customer base, how do you become the most trusted organisation in the world?”

While you wouldn’t wish for it, major threats can be used as a burning bridge to bring about change and strengthen an organisation’s culture, processes and customer centredness.

Brand Trust: A Survey

Roy Morgan recently released its latest Net Trust Score (NTS) survey. They found that the important drivers of trust included reliability, customer focus, knowledgeable staff, ease of contact and previous good experiences with the company.

They also discovered that drivers of brand distrust revolve around perceptions of self-centredness, greed, and dishonest and deceitful business practices.

In the survey Bendigo Bank ranked third for consumer trust, coming after Aldi and NRMA.

Interestingly, even after the Royal Commission had exposed Bendigo’s mishandling of fraud, charging of incorrect fees on overdrafts and underpayment of interest on customer deposits, consumer trust was still high.

According to the Bank’s Managing Director, these incidents: “haven’t had a big impact on us …I am not trivialising the issues that were there – but what was raised was highlighted by us from 10 years ago. And we made the changes necessary to ensure it wasn’t going to happen in the future.”

The Bank had taken steps to address the core issues that might have threatened their relationships with consumers. They understood their customers’ needs in-depth and were able to circumnavigate criticism – ensuring the brand withstood threats to brand perception.

Reviewing Your Operation

So, as we come to the end of 2018, it is timely to think about planning for the year ahead.

  • What are your major threats and how can they be viewed as opportunities?
  • How confident are you that you have put your best foot forward and done what’s necessary to reflect on your organisation’s successes and failures and to prepare your business and marketing plans for the year ahead?
  • How well do you really know your customer?
  • Can you honestly say you have an intimate understanding of their needs?

The quieter period is a great opportunity to work on the business, not in the business, and take the time to do research or set clear goals for growth in 2019.

It’s important to review and understand your marketing strategy and operating environment, your client base, your competitive set and develop a roadmap to deliver on goals with clear deliverables that tie into a defined brand positioning.

To book in for a free, two-hour marketing analysis with us, please contact me on

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