RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • From 2011-2018, we studied 10,000 companies across 18 industries and 12 million data points to understand how disruption has evolved.
  • Using our Disruptability Index, we can pinpoint an industry’s current level of disruption and susceptibility to future disruption.
  • The Software & Platforms industry has the highest score among all industries for current levels of disruption.
  • To break through disruption, S&P companies must embrace the power of the wise pivot and apply these three strategies to shape their own future.


Disruption is a fact of life in every industry

Long-term trend lines, once reliably smooth, now more closely resemble hockey sticks. Since 2011, levels of disruption have jumped significantly, and total VC funding has increased 5x. The threat is persistent and growing, and management teams are predictably concerned.

Mentions of disruption by large companies have increased over 208 times since 2008. While disruptors have increased in scale and speed, incumbents have reverted to past strengths, spending time and resources and protecting their position and leaning on their reservoir of assets. Most organizations lack a deep understanding of the extent of their exposure and where they fall among fellow disrupted companies in their industry. To fill this gap, Accenture has created the Disruptability Index.

Disruptability Index

From 2011-2018, we studied 10,000 companies across 18 industries and 12 million data points to understand how disruption has evolved over the past decade.

Disruptability index industry sector matrix from 2018 study that pinpoints 18 industries and their levels of vulnerability, viability, durability and volatility.

Using the index, we can pinpoint an industry’s current level of disruption and susceptibility to future disruption. This empowers executive teams to target specific areas of vulnerability and plan an appropriate, strategic response.

Industries fall in 1 of 4 periods of disruption:

Durability (11% of companies)

Efficient, mature industries, in which structural incumbent advantages pose significant barriers to entry.

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Vulnerability (38% of companies)

Structural inefficiencies and low levels of innovation lead to low industry productivity.

Volatility (33% of companies)

Previously strong barriers to entry have eroded; what were sources of strength become weaknesses.

Viability (18% of companies)

Characterized by embryonic or reborn industries that have endured a significant disruption.

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Based on the index, one industry that is uniquely vulnerable to disruption is Software & Platforms.

The Software & Platforms scorecard

The Software & Platforms sector is experiencing a critical moment of disruption. While the industry is currently in a period of Viability, the sector achieves the highest score among all industries for current levels of disruption. Why? It’s almost entirely due to heavy penetration by high-value start-ups, the presence of disruptive incumbent companies, plus the enormous levels of venture capital funding in the sector compared to other industries.

Three strategies to win in the age of disruption

For Software & Platforms companies, accelerating against disruption is difficult, but possible. Companies in the S&P sector have been wallowing in the Viability period for years, where companies have rapid product cycles and fleet-footed customers.

Unlike long-established industries that rely on a host of traditional barriers to entry as protection from disruptive threats, S&P leaders understand that the best defense is a good offense. They know how to profit from disruption. Lean into the new and create your next cutting edge by applying these three strategies:

Continuously explore new business models

Embrace new technologies to develop potentially disruptive ideas, in and outside of your current industry.

Scale new businesses at speed

Progressively bolster and allocate your innovation investments so you can test and turn new ideas into commercial realities faster.

Use the ecosystem to fuel innovation & share risk

Commit to scaling new ideas with ecosystem partners who can provide access to technologies and specialized talent.

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Carve your own path through disruption

We get the big picture and all the little pixels that make it up. Whether you’re an emerging player or a massive titan, no other technology professional services firm can help companies pivot and implement full transformation, from strategy to operations, and all the people and digital components in-between. Whether it’s developing new products and services to scale into new markets or innovating around fertile technologies like location and commerce, we'll help you be the first to transform and the last to leave.

Let Accenture help you lead the way and embrace the power of the innovation pivot.

About the Authors

Robin Murdoch

Managing Director – Global Industry Lead, Accenture Software & Platforms


Paul Nunes

Global Managing Director – Thought Leadership, Accenture Research


Dr. Vedrana Savic

Managing Director – Thought Leadership, Accenture Research


Michael Moore

Senior Principle – Thought Leadership, Accenture Research

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