Disruptive decisions: making headway against market inertia

In this age of big ideas it can be easy to overlook the constant innovation by companies in every industry segment, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t underway


The idea of disruption in the economic sense is most frequently used today in the context of disruptive technologies — often advanced or ground-breaking innovations, the impacts of which are so profound that they can reshape entire industries.

However, any market as a whole is at all times and in all places the result of different companies engaged in an ongoing series of actions and reactions — as they attempt to disrupt their industry by outmanoeuvring each other or creating new niches for themselves.

In May’s issue, the case of the 2014 launch of Indian-made entry-level backhoe loaders by Case and JCB, the 570T and 3XCG respectively, is an example of two companies trying to disrupt and in the process outmanoeuvre one other.

Similarly, in trucks, there is an ongoing arms race between manufacturers to provide the most GCC-applicable commercial vehicles — in a shift away from their international generics.

Ford Trucks, despite only having had a direct presence in the region for three years, has poured significant resources — in terms of time and investment — into a MENA market- specific range. The same is true for Renault Trucks, whose present-day C and K ranges are built on the back of decades of experience with the Kerax in markets like Algeria.

We see similar activities from all of the major heavy commercial vehicles players, including MAN with its TGX, Iveco and Astra, Mercedes-Benz with its Actros and Zetros and most recently Tata Daewoo — with its launch of two Prima models targeted very specifically towards the Saudi Arabian construction sector.

When the entire market is up to the same game, it can be hard to be truly disruptive, but the intentionality is evident in every segment.

One company making a pretty good case for having a disruptive product is FMS Tech, which has launched an automated driver merit system ‘robot’ that analyses driver behaviour based on telematics inputs and can automatically provide feedback back to a fleet’s drivers. The potential that this holds for reducing the costly overheads associated with human driver trainers has already been picked up on by a number of oil and gas companies and logistics operations.

Disruption is constantly going on around us. It may not be as dramatic as the Hyperloop, but it doesn’t have to be; it just has to carve up the competition or carve out a new niche. 

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Construction Week - Issue 765
Jun 29, 2020