A Comprehensive Look
The “digital disruption” has reshaped the business world across a spectrum of industries. It would be challenging to find a company today that hasn’t adapted to some extent. That said, some sectors have seen more change than others.
Some industries, like technology and media, are obvious hubs of innovation. But more traditional industries are having to adjust their current practices to keep pace with demand, satisfy new expectations and retain customers.
These older industries are embracing digital solutions to fix persistent problems and expand what’s possible. Here’s a look at seven of them.
When people imagine digital industries, construction is probably one of the last to come to mind. The sector has resisted technological disruption for years, but that’s changing with new digital tools. Building information modeling (BIM) is at the forefront of this transformation, with 73% of construction firms now using it.
BIM is software that lets construction professionals design, edit and share digital models and renderings of buildings. It’s a flexible, data-centric alternative to blueprints and physical models, and it’s reshaping the industry. By embracing these tools, construction companies have reduced waste, completed projects faster and increased profits.
Now that BIM has become an industry standard, the sector has opened up to other digital technologies. Teams are using internet of things (IoT) sensors to monitor worker health or improve vehicle maintenance, surveying land with drones and 3D printing parts. Many of these technologies are still new to the industry, but they’re showing promise.
Manufacturing is in the middle of its most significant transformation since the industrial revolution. In fact, sector insiders refer to its current digitization trend as the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0. Manufacturers everywhere are embracing data-driven digital technologies to maximize productivity and minimize costs.
At the core of Industry 4.0 is the IoT. Manufacturers use these connected sensors to organize inventory, optimize maintenance schedules, reduce energy consumption and more. Despite this being a relatively new trend, manufacturing IoT is already a $33.2 billion industry and continues to skyrocket.
The manufacturing industry’s digitization goes beyond the IoT, too. Many manufacturers now rely on data analytics to find where they can improve or forecast demand. These services give them the insight and flexibility necessary for the fast-moving, digital consumer market.
If the COVID-19 pandemic proved anything, it’s that supply chains are fragile, inflexible and lack visibility. Thankfully, some logistics companies have been embracing digital disruption over the past few years, fixing these issues. After all the disruptions in 2020, more will follow suit, leading to industry-wide transformation.
Telematics services are by far the most disruptive digital technologies taking hold in logistics. Connected sensors in vehicles provide real-time visibility into shipment locations and conditions. Some companies have even started to use this data to adjust routes when shipments are already on the road, further optimizing deliveries.
UPS’s telematics platform, ORION, saves the company roughly 100 million miles per year, saving millions in fuel expenses. The success of the ORION program has convinced many other logistics companies to implement similar technologies. Before long, digital services like this will be an industry standard.
Few industries have seen as substantial a digital transformation as the retail sector. The most obvious example of this shift is ecommerce, which has come to define modern retail. Even in a year like 2020, when overall retail sales fell by 3%, e-commerce grew by 27.6%, generating $4.28 trillion.
Transitioning to online sales isn’t the only way retail has gone digital, either. Retailers now use their websites as a place to solidify their branding. Companies like Rally House that have been in business for more than 30 years use their site to offer a strong mission statement and draw consumers in.
Even brick-and-mortar retail stores have started to leverage digital disruption. Some locations now use technologies like IoT sensors and data analytics to monitor how customers act in their stores. This information then helps them adjust to consumer trends, maximizing sales.
When digital-native financial technology (FinTech) companies came onto the scene, they threatened traditional banks’ supremacy in the finance industry. In response, banks have embraced the same technologies and techniques, transforming to stay competitive. Now, these digital services are standard across the industry.
Managing finances used to mean a trip to the bank, often involving paperwork and long wait times. Now, people can manage their accounts from anywhere with dedicated banking apps. Peer-to-peer lending services like Venmo have helped democratize finances and help the unbanked access funding. Overall, digital technology has made finances more accessible, streamlined and secure.
The financial sector has several significant digital-driven changes on the horizon, too. Major industry players like JPMorgan and Citi have started using blockchain technology to secure transactions and fight fraud. As blockchain adoption rises, many banks may also let clients invest in and store cryptocurrency.
The energy industry has faced increasing pressure to change as environmental issues have become more prominent. Digital transformation has proved critical to this transition for both renewables and fossil fuel companies. Digital technologies help utilities improve service, reduce their carbon footprint and prevent disruptions.
IoT devices like smart transformers give more insight into grid operations. If something happens that threatens power in one sector, these sensors will let utilities know in real-time. Automation features can take these quick reactions a step further, automatically adjusting delivery based on changes in demand.
Digital disruption on the consumers’ end has transformed energy, too. Smart home devices save power and money by adapting to changing conditions and use patterns in real-time. As more people embrace these technologies, energy waste will fall.
The education sector has resisted digital transformation for years. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, schools and universities no longer had much of a choice. While the transition hasn’t been easy for many educators and students, it has revealed how digital technology can improve education.
Distance learning makes school far more accessible for students who may have physical challenges attending classes in person. Online courses are especially valuable for higher education students since these programs are often far more affordable than in-person alternatives. In one study, 51% of online college students cited affordability as the most important factor in convincing them to enroll in online courses.
Digital-native learning resources, like Khan Academy and Skillshare, give students and workers more options for expanding their education. Just as peer-to-peer lending democratizes finances, these services democratize and extend learning. Extracurricular courses and professional development are now more accessible than ever.
Digital Disruption Is Everywhere
No matter how old or traditional an industry is, chances are digital technologies have changed it. The global shift to digital services and technologies has impacted all sectors, bringing substantial improvements in some cases. As adoption of these resources continues to climb, more use cases will emerge, leading to further innovation.