Digital is not only a means to optimize a company’s existing operations. It also gives both attackers and incumbents the power to disrupt value chains, enter new sectors, and create innovative business models. Established companies face threats from new competitors like Amazon Business, which offers millions of products, from automotive components, industrial lifts, and ramps to lab products, protective gear, and electrical equipment.
To get ahead of threats like this, industrial companies can use digital to transform and extend their own business models before change is imposed on them by attackers reshaping their industry. Some incumbents are joining digital platforms and B2B marketplaces to aggregate demand and sell direct to end users. BASF, for example, was the first chemicals company to sell products online through Alibaba. Other businesses, such as the 3-D printing start-up Sculpteo, are selling services rather than products. Still others are offering their manufacturing capacity as a service to third parties.