Chang, the change agent
Now, more than ever before, technology is challenging the way successful businesses operate, because it is proving to be a disruption that can level an entire market. Trend analyst Dion Chang understands that for business leaders steering large corporations, this can be scary. Chang speaks to about the
business of change.
Dion Chang is in Cape Town to speak to an academic institution and the CEO of a major financial business – both want advice on how to spot disruptive trends, and to manage change.
“I think interest in me sparks when businesses see the danger signs on the horizon,” says Chang who’s sitting in a trendy inner city hotel ahead of an open presentation he’s giving on ‘the war zone’.
The battle royale that brands and businesses are facing now is the war for relevance. Think of how Uber upended the taxi business and transport sector by using technology to connect people with cars, to people who needed rides. “For the most, businesses aren’t proactive when it comes to disruption; they tend to be reactive, so in our business what we’re seeing is a lot of catchup.”
In Chang-speak, ‘catchup’ is what happens when brands get caught in the headlights of oncoming change and realise they need to do something smart pretty soon, or face obsolescence.
Chang explains how the insurance industry made its bread and butter from insurance brokers and how the digital era has disintermediated this, making insurance a direct product where comparison browsing online is a key consumer activity. “In the digital era, it’s absolute suicide to have a third party represent your brand and sell your product. But that is how the entire industry’s been set up,” he says.
“In a digital era you want to control your own omnichannel, you want to sell your own product. If there’s social media spewing out content, t hen you want to be able to manage this totally,” adds Chang. His knowledge speaks to trends, technology, futurecasting and how t he f ut ure will challenge and change businesses. “If there is an intermediary disrupting your relationship with your clients this is a problem. And if your entire industry is built on a disrupted relationship with your client, how are you going to change that?” Chang asks.
“It’s gobsmacking to see how far ahead, or how far behind, certain i ndustries or s ectors rea l l y a re. Sometimes I get a real shock. But that’s maybe because I live in the future perpetually,” says the trend analyst.
The sector most under siege, currently, says Chang, is the media and retail space. “I’m watching these sectors really carefully, because social commerce is going to be a big factor going forward for both industries. In short, social media has morphed from a communications