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Disruption: Why it’s important and how to ensure your autonomous partner embraces it

While the act of being disruptive may have a negative connotation in daily life, it takes on a whole new meaning as it relates to autonomous innovation. In fact, it's a staple for forward progress, and the lack of it can mean extinction for a business — not only for those tasked with providing their customers with the latest tools to enable greater efficiency and productivity, but also for companies who serve to engineer those solutions.

True disruption has the power to transform markets. By ensuring your partner embraces disruption as a core value, you hold the key to unlocking more and better innovative solutions that benefit everyone involved.

Successful disruption requires more than the desire to disrupt

Effective disruption requires a deep understanding of industry dynamics and a desire to come up with better ways to solve problems. This level of commitment requires significant investments of time and resources to develop and bring solutions to market — something that not every autonomous tech partner is qualified or equipped to do. 

Disruption should not be viewed as a step in a process, or as an afterthought. Rather, it should be palpable at a company’s core; present in both their culture and business models. And it should be purpose driven. In Trimble’s case, we approach it with the end goal of devising the best way to solve our customers’ needs. 

Trimble is no stranger to disrupting industries with transformative tech, as evidenced by the world’s first GPS grade control system for construction in 1999 and precision auto steering for tractors in 2000. Ground-breaking solutions like Trimble RTX for precision positioning without a base station in 2011 and the first-of-its kind autonomous sprayer in 2021 in partnership with HORSCH further solidified our reputation in the autonomous market. 

Autonomous tech and development is accelerating quickly, and unlike early startups, Trimble has the advantage of drawing on its legacy and domain expertise to dig deep for solutions that don’t just move the needle for our customers, but transform efficiencies, productivity and profits. (And bring solutions to market faster.)

Disruption isn’t a destination; it’s part of the innovation blueprint

Being disruptive has no end… it’s a moving target — especially as additional revolutionary technologies are introduced. Will current technologies remain the driving force of autonomy in 15 years? Given the exponential page of technological progress, it likely will have laid the groundwork for the next innovation — and the next. That’s why it’s imperative to ensure your autonomous partner remains on its toes at all times, with a forward-looking mindset and the intent to be leaders, not followers.

Disruption should be part of your partner's DNA

Here are five signs that help separate the authentically innovative partners from the also-rans:

1. Partners with a disruptive focus will be focused first on identifying your unique challenges, then motivated by finding faster and easier solutions for getting where you want to go. Thus, collaboration should be built in, from concept to completion, as illustrated in this video.

2. Disruption cannot occur in the absence of risk. Choose a partner that celebrates what works and learns from what doesn’t. Disruptive ideation and stepping out of comfort zones should not only be embraced, but encouraged and respected.

3. A disruptive company should support and encourage the creation of formal or informal peer groups that meet with the express purpose of innovating. At Trimble, this takes the shape of:

  • Multiple sector and global hackathons every year. From daylong challenges focused on smaller scale ideas to longer “dreamer” hackathons with a broader industrial scope, Trimble fosters spaces where engineers are challenged to ideate to solve a problem or address a market need.
  • Innovation councils, comprised of representatives from different sectors who come together to ideate on an array of innovation tools and topics.
  • Domain-specific “guilds” that engineers join to stay up to date on various topics, brainstorm ideas, learn, identify market needs and find support.

4. Management should also cultivate disruption by practicing it themselves. Sector leaders at Trimble embed varied degrees of innovative and disruptive opportunities into their long range plans (LRPs). 

5. A disruptive partner recognizes that diversity of thought begins with hiring and extends to what it offers employees on a personal level. To this end, it will value and support diversity, as evidenced in Trimble's recruitment process and its many diversity, equity and inclusion programs. 

The key to optimizing disruption is not to disrupt for disruption’s sake, but to use it to bring the customers’ needs to life — first identifying their unique challenges and then employing disruptive thought to find the best solution. That’s where the magic happens.