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Disruption will come from anywhere: panellists

UNLESS companies want to go the way of Kodak, they must admit they are vulnerable and make a genuine, committed effort at managing disruption.

This is because disruptors - startup speak for companies or entrepreneurs with solutions to change a long-established industry in ways incumbents have overlooked - will come, and from "anywhere".

This was the key message of panellists discussing how to deal with disruption at The Business Times Leaders' Forum 2016 on Tuesday.

Ramesh Narayanaswamy, group chief information officer at Singapore Post, said: "Competition for SingPost does not just come from the logistics sector, but from completely different sectors including technology and payments."

The group's approach, he added, is to keep an eye on industries broadly, and "be relevant".

Hugh Mason, co-founder and chief executive of JFDI.Asia, said that CEOs of large companies today have an uphill task from having to manage disruption.

"CEOs need to have split brains. They need to focus on the core business, while at the same time, learn how to stop minimising risks and look at maximising new opportunities and partnerships," Mr Mason added.

Warren Tseng, general manager of Uber Singapore, who acknowledged that Uber often gets a bad reputation for being a disruptor, noted that companies should not disrupt for the sake of disrupting. He said: "Find a real problem and focus on the solution. Have a cause that you're standing for."

The panel, named "Dealing with Disruption", was moderated by Patrick Lee, head of corporate and institutional banking (Singapore) and head of international corporates (Asean) at Standard Chartered Bank.

StanChart is a partner of the The Business Times Leaders' Forum 2016.