Technology concept

Disruption Is Everywhere, Now What?

Swap fear, for greed

Disruption, at least by my definition, is something beyond our control. It will continue to happen. And for a whole bunch of reasons it is happening quicker and from more directions in every industry. We can’t prevent it so we have two choices – defend as best we can against being blown off course by it, or attack and turn it to advantage.  In practice, the reaction of any enterprise will be a mix of the two once they work out a strategy. These days it’s fashionable to call it ‘digital transformation’. And the aim of digital transformation is to make our company relevant and prosperous again with a new set of business models aligned to our heavily disrupted, now unfamiliar, surroundings. Of course, we could just continue to cut costs while we cling to our old trusty business models and hope that having a lean, mean, organisation will allow us to survive in this new world – recent history says not.

Sorting the wheat from the chaff

All well and good, but how do we approach the task of facing disruption? Let’s assume we recognise the urgency of the transformation and we have a bunch of people rallying to the cause. First of all, how do we make sense of the disruption landscape? The disruptors for each industry segment will be the same for all companies in that segment (because they all share similar value chains), but the impact will vary according to the individual characteristics of the organisation. This means that spreading the disruptors over an emerging -> leading edge -> early adopter -> late adopter continuum is the first useful thing we can do. This allows us to begin visualising a strategy or series of campaigns aligned to where we think bits of our organisation sit on the continuum – both where we are today and what we have the appetite to swallow going forward. This will lead us to a clearer understanding of whether we are just trying to mitigate the damage and catch up or we truly have the appetite to become a market leader and leap-frog the competition  – disrupt the market ourselves. We will learn an awful lot about our leaders when that answer pops out.

Are we there yet?

So, we may know where we want to go. But a strategy has to include how we are going to get there. Some interesting questions arise: Have we got everything to do this ourselves? Even if we have all the bits, is it better if someone on the outside is driving this? Has this got something to do with innovation? It feels like generation Y might be useful here? How do we measure success or know when we have finished? What’s the role of technology – because this is a business model thing and therefore we are looking for pure business outcomes? And my personal favourite – are the people that led us such a long way into the current decline the right ones to lead us out of it? I’ll talk about these in my next blog post…

This blog first appeared on Ron Brown’s blog.

You may be also interested in previous blogs by Ron Brown.

Ron Brown

Author: Ron Brown

Ron Brown brings more than 26 years of experience in the IT industry and is widely considered as a thought leader and expert in the areas of strategy, innovation, disruption, cloud computing, enterprise architecture and business process management.