Google vs. Starbucks? What’s disrupting your business?

Who would have thought an online search engine company would become a car company?

But when you think about it, it makes sense.

Google searches the web and provide you with options on how to get to the information you are looking for. A car is a physical search engine that provides you with options on how to get to the places you want to go. Google is merging physical search ability with virtual search ability.

A definite competitor in the automobile space, but coffee?

Definitely. The warning: you and your company need to review disruptions in other market spaces. You need to figure out how those disruptions/disruptors may impact your product and service offerings, customer base, etc. All it takes is a bit of creative thinking combined with logic based if-then analysis.

Here’s how it works:

If Google is successful in creating safe, autonomous vehicles, then people, including the driver, can have conversations in their autonomous car without worrying about driving. In some current car examples, the driver can even turn the driver’s seat around to join the conversation.

If the driver can join a group conversation, then that means you can hold meetings in a car as you are driven to a specific location.

For meetings, often a few things are present: tables, chairs, internet, and coffee.

If the car is made with table segments that can be pulled up (like airplane trays that collapse into the arm rest), and since the car already has seats, and internet is a given in an autonomous vehicle, then all we need is coffee.

Since the car has electricity, we just need a coffee maker that can quickly brew small amounts of coffee (say a cup at a time) using the car’s hook-ups.

So fine, you say, some coffee may be made in a car.

But if you are Starbucks, you need to evaluate your customers: who uses your space and why. Many small businesses, and business people in general, use Starbucks locations as their remote offices. They have tables, chairs, internet, and coffee.

If those people can now meet in a mobile communication center, their days are made more productive. But this keeps customers away from Starbucks (although it increases the value of the Via product).

So what would have to change in corporate strategy for Starbucks once Google begins competing with them? How will this impact their current business model?

Now that you’ve thought through the impact on another company, what impact might Google, Amazon, or any other disruptor or disruptive technology have on your company?

Ask the questions. Get the answers. You need to be ready.

Key words and concepts: disruption, business model, innovation

About the author: Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky with Process & Strategy consults with and provides training for organizations eager to increase their competitive value by helping enable growth, align performance, make and move product (even when the product is a serving of electrons). She has been invited to teach SCOR (Supply Chain Operations Reference model) in Baton Rouge this October. SCOR is the framework Fortune 500 companies use to increase their agility.