Disruption is an opportunity to flip the script – are you ready?

Carmine Di Sibio

Carmine Di Sibio,

EY Global Managing Partner – Client Service


It’s time for businesses to stop fearfully reacting to disruption and to proactively embrace it instead, says EY’s Carmine Di Sibio

Person jumping into a lake

Every threat to the status quo is an opportunity in disguise.

Jay Samit, digital media innovator and serial disruptor

A lot is being said about technological disruption and how it is turning established business models on their heads. According to recent research by the Economist Intelligence Unit and supported by EY, six out of ten senior executives view disruption as a threat rather than an opportunity, and most feel their organizations are being reactive rather than proactive.

It’s time for these companies to flip the script by embracing disruption and unlocking its potential.

As I have conversations with clients from around the world, I find that businesses that are ahead of the curve see disruption as an opportunity to do things differently, to solve problems that had no solutions before, and to enter markets previously out of their reach.

Innovation in health care

Take the health care sector, where recent innovations are already changing the game. 3D printing makes it possible to print skin for burn victims and to build prosthetic limbs for amputees. The Swiss national postal service is testing drones and plans to use them regularly to ship medical goods and samples as soon as next year. Very soon consumers will have access to qualified medical advice through apps on their mobile phones. And it probably won’t be too long before patients are fitted with sensors that transmit data in real time to their doctors, potentially saving lives.

Energizing new markets and economies

Technology can also accelerate the development of emerging economies and drive inclusive growth. Next-generation batteries could be mini-grids that provide energy sources to entire villages and mobile field robots could help farmers maximize the output of their crops, reducing the threat of famine. And, as I mentioned in a recent blog, biometric authentication is leading to more secure, faster access to financial services.

Necessity is the mother of (re-)invention

Disruption is a business imperative – companies need to take a proactive approach to charting a course for the future and invest in the right technologies. Many will need to transform their businesses, whether it is by using their corporate muscle to reach new buyers, simplifying their existing business model, or leveraging technologies like robotic process automation (RPA) so their talent can focus on more strategic work. In the short term it could be a cost, but it will be essential for long-term survival. As we work to disrupt our own business at EY, I find that success will ultimately be achieved by having a corporate culture open to embrace change and adapt quickly.

It can be challenging for executives to find the time and environment to explore alternative futures and take an outside-in perspective. Some of the answers could even involve turning to collaborations with companies from different sectors. That’s why EY hosts Innovation Realized, a two-day retreat that brings corporate executives and disruptive entrepreneurs together to collaborate, explore emerging technologies and share ideas in a creative and dynamic environment.

Talking heads and interminable slide decks are banished from the retreat. Instead we bring together business leaders, thought leaders, game-changers and innovative pioneers to explore the answers to some of the biggest questions posed by disruption today, including how embracing technological innovation can help power radical growth. I hope everyone attending is ready to make the journey. I know I am.


Discover more


From 23-26 April at EY Innovation Realized and Convergence Lab, EY will be convening leaders that are at the forefront of disruptive innovation and industry convergence. Join the conversation by following #BetterQuestions and visiting betterworkingworld.com.