Disney’s offering has changed quite a lot over the years. Disney+ is its latest feat. Source: Shutterstock

Why business can learn from Disney when it comes to staying relevant

For a case study in how a century-old company can continue to evolve, innovate and remain a mainstream leader, we can look to the entertainment giant Disney. 

Known for its fairytale movies and multiverse cinematic franchise, the firm has adapted relentlessly to its target market, most recently by embracing digital streaming platform capabilities with Disney+.

The new platform has already recorded over 10 million subscribers in just a matter of days since its launch. 

For a conglomerate mass media force like Disney to pivot like this shows that even legacy companies cannot excuse themselves from evolving just because they are in a comfortable position. 

With market competition of the likes of Netflix, Hulu, and Apple TV, of course, Disney knew any present comfort would ultimately be short-lived. 

There are a lot of incumbent businesses that are still relying on old business models, systems and mindsets. In such a disruptive digital age, these companies must make it a point to innovate and turn the tide – but how can they do so?

Leading with innovation in mind

It is highly critical that legacy companies instill and foster an innovative-first mindset across the organization. Where digital transformation matters, leaders, especially, must ensure that the workforce is inspired or even incentivized to think outside of the box by turning to technology.

That also means bringing in new talent, new technological tools as well as programs that can help reskill current employees.

Take it from Nissan, one of the biggest names in the automotive industry. 

It’s Managing Director Kalyana Sivagnanam said “there are no bad ideas” when it comes to innovation. The company has ingrained innovation at the core of their processes and even provides employees with the resources to experiment with new technologies.

Analyzing market behavior

The marketplace is ever-evolving with a growing number of competitors and disruptors – legacy companies know this well enough. To innovate, R&D teams must analyze market trends to understand customer behaviors and needs.

Most importantly, these teams need to look into pain points that drive customers away from other brands or business segments that competitors have yet to tap into but come with high market demand.

Once that is sorted, legacy companies can start drafting out plans and look at how technology can help deliver new functions and business applications that would make them disrupt the market – looking at the approaches new disruptors have taken could be a good start. 

Grab, for example, has been able to dominate South East Asia’s e-hailing market by innovating services that have hindered customer experience. 

Now, the digital service provider is able to create a wide range of business applications hosted on a singular platform including e-payment, last-mile delivery, and insurance policies.

Appealing to investors

All of the insights gathered from the market research can also be leveraged to build a solid business case

In order to allow innovative efforts to materialize at scale, companies must, of course, gather all the necessary resources and to do so, the trust and interest of investors, as well as shareholders, must be secured.

A well-structured and exciting digital transformation proposal could help win investments and resources. Not only that, but businesses must also show the costs that are involved, how they plan to implement changes and what kind of results are being aimed.

Devising results-driven work processes are key in encouraging extensive use of digital solutions. 

Focusing on how the innovation project can augment a narrow business application and drive impactful results will also significantly change the overall momentum of the operation. 

All these factors matter in winning over investors.

In the end, companies must remember that innovation is not always easy but the absence of it can be brutal on the legacy companies’ performance and sales in the long run.