I’d like to talk for a moment about the idea of market disruption. We’ve all come across the term; attached to the ideas, products, and services that flip the average business model on its head and force the hand of change. Sometimes this is for the good, other times not so much. This week I’ve come across an instance where the latter part of that equation might seemingly come to light.

I read a great piece in the Wall Street Journal about the idea of the driverless car and who takes on the liability should one of these autonomous vehicles get into an accident. Who is to blame? The driver? The automaker? The technology company? The article brings up some great points, and it goes out to outline how some law makers are already tasked with trying to figure it all out—even if the market is saying such vehicles won’t be hitting the road for another 10+ years or so.

Here now is the idea of market disruption in all of its glory. You have companies like Google touting the idea of the autonomous vehicle, and likewise you have automakers already trialing some vehicles at CES earlier this month. And for all intents and purposes you would think that these are the two groups that would have the most skin in the game with driverless cars, and therefore take on the most risk/reward.

But not so fast. Other parties look to be impacted as well should the driverless car get into a wreck. How about insurance companies, or local municipalities that need to deal with the public infrastructure that this autonomous car might take out with collateral damage? These parties are now forced into a situation where they need to be thinking about the impact of connectivity, even if it wasn’t on their radar. Will auto part makers be part of the blame too? I could see the list going on and on …

The point here is that multiple parties will be impacted by this new development coming out of the minds of technology companies and automakers. And if they aren’t prepared for the change, they could be left with the most risk.

Sure, insurance companies are already deeply involved with connectivity from a UBI (usage-based insurance) perspective. But this presents a whole new level of preparedness on their part.

It’s a twist on the idea I presented in an earlier post about companies exploring their “connected complement” to their average business model. The idea stemmed from the news of Avis Budget Group proposing to acquire Zipcar. To me it was a clear acknowledgement by Avis that connectivity needs to be part of their business model. Avis saw the demand building up from customers and realized the competition was already offering similar types of services. You could make the argument that this is another case of being forced into the discussion of connectivity—but for Avis it was more a matter of time before they would need to offer such a service, so it made the proactive move.

For those directly associated with the idea of the autonomous vehicle, the business model change is already in the plans. But for those on the fringe and affected by the outcomes of what happens on the road, they are more or less forced into a situation. It’s like our friends at INEX Advisors have been saying, M2M is clearly moving to the next phase and 2013 will clearly bring forth more and more examples. I’d venture to say this is one instance in which that next phase which Chris Rezendes at INEX outlines in  his blog is coming whether certain parties are prepared or not. I’d even love to hear what Chris thinks about this dynamic and its effect on the next phase of M2M.

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