Large players have also become more open to partnerships, with organisations inside and outside of their industries, to try and stay ahead of nimble digital challengers.
Car sharing is a good example. Ford, for example, has engaged app developers, car park owners, insurance providers, financial institutions and local councils in a scheme to make Ford cars available for hire around London. Its rivals BMW, Daimler, Honda and others are pursuing similar car-sharing programmes in Europe and elsewhere.
Equally, senior management can sometimes use acquisitions and partnerships to shake things up internally by importing desired business practices and attitudes.
More often, however, the acquisition or alliance remains separate from the core business; it may prove effective at seeing off dangerous challenges, but does little to alter the prevailing culture.
Disrupting from within
Some companies respond to disruption in more radical ways – by disrupting their own business model.
The Italian electricity utility Enel is attempting to do just that by forgoing any further investment in coal-powered generation and re-directing its future investment toward renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.
The Chinese consumer electronics and appliances company Haier, on the other hand, is in the process of reorganising a hierarchical management structure into several smaller “micro-enterprises” that compete with each other to design, build and distribute the company’s products; they will also compete for staff and investment funding.
Only time will tell whether such internal disruption will help organisations meet the challenge.