While disruption is gaining speed and becoming more frequent, the phenomenon is hardly new. Think about the manufacturing advancements we’ve made throughout the last 200 years—each one disrupted the industry to some degree.

No doubt, disruption will continue to shape product development and manufacturing.

And that’s a good thing. Disruption leads to lasting advancement and remarkable improvements.

However, you want your business to be an active participant in the process, not sidelined by the next big thing—and that means being aware of what’s coming and staying ahead of the game. Follow these pointers to help your company recognize when disruption is on its way.

1. Pay attention to what’s attracting investors

Researching where venture capitalists are investing their money can give you a reliable indicator of where the next wave of disruption will come from. A promising disruptive product that, as venture investor Kjartan Rist puts it, “drives efficiency and opens new market opportunities, while challenging incumbent players” is the “ideal fit for risk-taking entrepreneurs.” Stephen McBride notes that “today’s truly disruptive companies are building their fortunes faster than ever before. That means their investors are getting rich faster than ever.”

Following the venture money can be a great way to stay abreast of what’s promising in your industry.

2. Talk to your customers

Along with advances in tech, it’s the needs of customers that really catalyze disruption. Businesses that can identify customers’ pain points and turn them into innovative solutions earn popularity and loyalty among consumers. While sales data provides useful information, face-to-face interaction with customers can yield invaluable insight regarding your company’s products. Don’t shy away from directly asking how you can improve your product. Seeking out your customers’ opinions is one of the best ways to stay ahead of disruption.

3. Take heed of trade associations

Heidi Pozzo of IndustryWeek notes that “trade associations are on the front line of disruption.” From consulting with environmental agencies, following new legislation, and tracking regulations, trade associations are involved with disruption’s many angles. Consider how important sustainability is to today’s product developers. This trend owes a great deal to trade associations. By following trade associations, you are following disruption.

4. Examine where the workforce is going

Pozzo explains:

“New companies spring up looking to develop a new product and deliver it to the market in a different way. Usually they are formed by people from outside the industry. But they need talent from people who know the industry inside and out; people who realize the customer is not satisfied. Or the costs are too high to be competitive long-term. These people see the vision of the disruptors and jump ship from their current positions to help deliver the vision.”

When employees start moving over to startups, that’s when you know it’s time to pay attention.

Detecting disruption should be an integrated component of your business. As Pozzo asserts, “it’s not the disruption that will kill your business. It is not paying attention and reacting that does.”

At Pivot, we bring nearly 50 years of experience in offering product design and complete prototyping services to entrepreneurial start-ups and established corporations alike to help them bring profitable products to domestic and international markets. If you’re ready to take the steps to prototype a product or are simply looking to optimize your manufacturing operations, we can help. Contact us today and see what we can do for you.