From industry convergence to innovation

Uschi Schreiber,

Chair, Global Accounts Committee & Global Vice Chair, Markets at EY

More about the author

As Global Vice Chair, Markets, Uschi is a member of EY’s global executive board and responsible for the firm’s integrated go-to-market approach. She is a board member of the Women in Parliaments Global Forum and sits on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Government.


Smart technologies are empowering customers by letting them share, trade and optimize their experiences. Converging industries are a key driving force behind this innovation

Bridge over merging rivers in Pittsburgh

100 companies from 16 industries came together at the EY Convergence Lab on 26 April, in the San Francisco Bay. It was the start of a journey that will transform the way we do business in the future.  In her latest blog, Alison Kay, Global Vice Chair of Industry talks about shattering industry boundaries and creating new business models. Are you ready for the future? - Read more.

Today, customers have greater access to knowledge, data and choice. This enables them to make better decisions, giving them a more powerful voice. Many believe that technology plays a democratizing role by altering the historical power imbalance between people who provide services and those who receive them. 

Implications of convergence

As EY discussed at Innovation Realized in San Francisco, we examined the implications of industry convergence - the blurring of two or more previously distinct industries and sets of participants. Today’s consumers are more likely than ever to accept offerings from insurgent players, regardless of industry, when they feel underserved or unserved. Industries rife with dissatisfied customers and anachronistic business models may be the most affected by this.

As industry boundaries blur, existing companies face unexpected competition from start-ups possessing new ideas and disruptive business models, as well as from incumbent companies in previously unrelated sectors. In a converging world driven by smart technologies, every industry is vulnerable. 

Modern innovation

Today’s innovators are cross-industry thinkers. They are collaborative workers. They look beyond their own backyard and engage new sources of talent and innovative tools to make real, tangible differences. The best innovators know that true ingenuity can come from unexpected places. They know often it is better to look outside of their office, group or organization and consider the broader ecosystem. And they look outside of their own industries. Organizations stuck in industry-specific bubbles will be left behind. 

Better questions to ask

As you look at your own organization, ask yourself:

  • Are you interacting with and learning from industries outside of your own?
  • Does your workforce encompass a diversity of backgrounds and skills?
  • Do you engage people with similar backgrounds in support of your existing culture?
  • Importantly, are you bringing in technical skills from other industries?
  • Do you value a “rogue” element in your workforce and seek different and possibly contrary perspectives?

Facing the challenges

Let’s look at some of the industries that are dealing with these challenges. Long gone are the days of healthcare services companies sifting through folders or spreadsheet programs of patient records. Today, technology driven healthcare companies are using data specialists, researchers, consumer product companies and others to harness the power of analytics and maximize the power of patient data.

While this process was historically designed to support health service providers, it is now increasingly designed to empower patients. And why shouldn't patients be able to access their blood test results and communicate with the doctor through an app? Now they can, and they should. 

Social media

Consider the still growing power of social media. Around the world, social media use has become habitual and is now an integral part of the daily lives of billions. Leveraging social media to connect with customers and stakeholders is already routine across many industries.

Future of innovation

Silos don’t work any longer.  This is true within organizations, between organizations and in society as a whole. As everything and everyone is connected, businesses need to build robust and responsive ecosystems. To meet increasingly demanding customer and consumer expectations, businesses will need to drive collaboration in previously unexpected places.


To discover more about the themes discussed and questions explored at EY’s Innovation Realized retreat, follow #BetterQuestions.


This article originally appeared as a blog on LinkedIn under the headline ‘From industry convergence to innovation