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Strat Fest 2018: Chris Smith, Leader of McKinsey Digital Labs.

by Steph Fruin November 21, 2018

"If you’ve allowed your customers’ data to be used in a way that they haven’t consented to, you’re on shaky ground when it comes to keeping their trust.” 

The amount of data we have is unprecedented with connectedness exponentially increasing (23billion connected devices in 2018). There are very different types and ways of going about disrupting a market; larger players doing things by the book to smaller disruptors glueing different things together and failing fast.

Chris’s take on navigating complexity looked at how the balance of trust and scale in business is the key to success. His salient point was how this can hold a disruptor back; how big banks, airlines, hospitals etc. have huge amounts of trust from the consumer meaning things can be forgiven, whereas the disruptor in the market has to work very hard to get this same consumer trust.

He finished on a rather foreboding note about Amazon being the one obvious disruptor that has managed to acquire both trust and scale and is a disruptor that we need to watch out for


Complexity is the proxy for disruption. Things are faster and faster because of how things are coming to market adoption of things is happening at a quicker rate as well.

Data is being produced at an unprecedented rate and both big and small data is incredibly valuable, but access to this data is key.

Computing Power is mindboggling and is moving things faster and faster.

Connectivness is also at an all-time high with 23 billion devices connecting in 2018.

There is an Ecosystem of Large Disruptors. However Western Disruptors don’t manage to disrupt in China very well. Even those businesses we think of as huge are making little or no impact in the East and East and West seem to be drifting further apart as a result.

  • Globalisation is crazy

 Amazon is up 3172% from 2006 – 2017 and companies should be asking, how do I:

  • Build new Business Models

  • Partner with the right people

  • Drive transformation

  • Resource the right people

  • Stop talking about Agile and just do it.

However, Disruptors don’t think like this. They think more like “if it exists already – use it” glue it together with other things that already exist and work and make something new that way. If that fails to throw it away and start again.

But what holds these agile disruptors back. Mainly Trust.

Traditional style companies have tonnes of innate trust built in. Top of the list being places like hospitals, Banks, Airlines etc.

These types of business are stuck with the interesting dilemma of “we have trust, but how do I disrupt without starting again and without losing said trust”.

They need to ‘digitise’ their core (i.e. be like Google and Amazon)/ Challenger brands in the UK do this well – worth noting that Challenger brands are called attacker brands outside of the UK.

Banking and more specifically Fintech have led the charge in disruption. But in Amazon Trust meets scale – so beware Amazon. Thus it is a story of trust and scale which creates a real chance of doing things differently and without either scale or trust, you are incredibly exposed to being disrupted by someone else.


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