By Graham Friend, Managing Director, Coleago Consulting Ltd

Across all industries, customer behaviour is changing, driven by tremendous digital advancements. With access to a much larger array of services, competitive price points and reviews, this has created fertile ground for the emergence of disruptive businesses such as Netflix, Uber and Air B&B. These companies have succeeded in creating compelling propositions that cater to the digital customer’s needs, resulting in older players that once dominated their markets suddenly finding themselves struggling to survive. This is no more evident than in the telecoms sector, where the emergence of dynamic, nimble and innovative Over The Top (OTT) players such as What’s App, Facebook Messenger and Skype has greatly impacted the mobile market, causing disruption to operator business models and compounding revenue loss.

Unfortunately, it is a fact of business life that traditional players often find it hard to compete and create innovative new services that can match those originating from the likes of Silicon Valley for customer appeal and take-up. With more budget and bigger marketing machines than the typical start-up to deploy services to their own user bases, they should be able to compete. Which begs the question, “is what’s lacking actually the ideas”? In Coleago’s experience, the more “traditional” market sectors, such as telecoms, that are somewhat set in their own ways of doing things, need more help than others to avoid a lack of innovation.

To help established businesses in every sector adapt and succeed in today’s digital age, it is therefore vital that both current industry professionals and new entrants are fully supported in progressing their careers via comprehensive training that requires them to challenge accepted ways of thinking and “think outside of the box”. This is especially true for young professionals who have not yet adopted the inherent traditions and status quo of their professions, enabling them to think differently and come up with ideas that could make a difference to the bottom line. Indeed, during one Coleago training course where participants were drawn from the graduate intake and the pool of young talent, some of the ideas developed went on to be commercially launched.

In addition to supporting new entrants, however, it is also vital that senior professionals undertake appropriate “innovation-based” training to equip them with the skills they need to identify effective new strategies. Taking participants outside of their comfort zone and forcing them to go back to basics, forgetting the resources and capital that they can usually rely on and starting with the kernel of an idea can work wonders, especially when combining senior management expertise with graduate intakes and younger pools of talent.

As OTT companies continue to gain the competitive advantage over otherwise more powerful and well-funded players, harnessing the creativity of the younger generation, as well as helping more established professionals to look outside of their comfort zone will hold the key to rivalling the innovation and rapid implementation cycles of start-up challengers. With challenges from dynamic digital disruptors occurring across all industries, the benefits of training cannot be underestimated. Supporting talent can not only help today’s businesses survive, but can uncover innovations that could shape the landscape tomorrow.