Are you the disrupter or the disrupted? You do have a choice!

Today’s guest post is from leading futurist Daniel Burrus, who will be a keynote speaker at NICSA’s 31st Annual Conference and Expo, to beheld February 10-13 in Miami. Join us to hear more about using disruptive trends to your advantage!


Thanks to rapid advances is processing power, storage, and bandwidth, our devices are getting exponentially smarter each year. For example, a data processing task that would have taken two days to complete in 2010 now takes just 10 minutes. That’s powerful!

As a result, our smart phones and tablets are getting smarter fast. And because we can use our smart phones and tablets to tap into super computers in the cloud, we now have super-computing capabilities in the palm of our hand, no matter where we are in the world.

The global investment management community is already seeing high performance data analytics, ultra-high-speed automated trading, advanced could services, and IT as a service, and much more, bring rapid changes to their profession.  


Don’t be surprised by disruption

While rapid changes like this usually brings major disruption to the way business has been done, let’s remember one key thing: Disruptive technology is only disruptive if you didn’t know about it ahead of time. 

If you use a strategy I’ve been talking about for years, namely separating the hard trends (the trends that will happen) from the soft trends (the trends that might happen), and you use that knowledge to make the disruptive technologies visible before they disrupt, you can then ask yourself an important question: “Do I want to be the disrupter or the disrupted?”  Before answering, remember this principle; if it can be done it will be done, and if you don’t do it someone else will. 

Yes I understand that asset managers, custodians, transfer agents, audit firms, broker-dealers and the entire industry live in a world of regulations that can limit what we do.  However, as I travel around the world working with this industry and many others that are regulated in some way, I find that we focus more on the long list of limitations than the many new opportunities we can do.   

Become the disrupter

Frankly, I would rather be the disrupter, using predictable disruption to my advantage. But since many organizations have a large infrastructure, they’re unwilling or slow to change and take on that role. They have technologies that have, in some cases, been in use for decades—what we call “legacy technology”—but it’s not the legacy technology that’s the real problem. It’s the organization’s “legacy thinking” that gets in the way of positive and productive change.

In reality, you need to get past legacy thinking by identifying the hard trends that will impact you and your customers in the near future so you can more clearly see a path to greater profitability in the years ahead. 

In the past, we tended to work hard at protecting and defending what we have. That approach further entrenched us in our current business model. The more we protect and defend what we have, the more we’re engrained with our current model. A better approach is to reconsider our business model based on the predictable changes that are heading our way.

It’s clear that over the next five years we’re not just going to change; we’re going to transform how we sell, market, communicate, collaborate, innovate, train, and educate. And much of that transformation is driven by mobility. 

Transform your business model

So it’s time to take a look at your business model and determine if you are transforming (not merely changing) it based on the hard trends—the certainties—you can see going forward. And if you are, are you doing it fast enough? Remember, it used to be that the big ate the small but now the fast eat the slow.  Success in the future is all about anticipation, speed, agility, and relevancy. So now that you have the speed and power in your hands, it’s time to use it…and fast.

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