Digital disruption is the current buzzword in the IT industry, but what does it really mean? It could be described as a transformation that is caused by emerging digital technologies and business models. These innovative new technologies and models impact on the value of existing products and services offered by the industry, as they are used in unexpected ways to disrupt the status quo of the market, creating a need for the existing players to re-evaluate their own business models.
One only has to look at the successes of non-traditional digital businesses like Airbnb and Uber to realise that embracing digital disruption appears to be the only way for market leaders to maintain that lead. However, this is easier said than done, as many of these traditional businesses require a significant mindset shift in order to embrace digital disruption and fully access the benefits this offers.
A good example of this mindset change is in the telecoms space, where there is a desperate need to shift away from the standard approach of ‘purchasing tin’ in cycles, and instead adopt an innovative strategy like cloud instead.
Think about it: The standard approach is to have an IP phone on each employees’ desk – but if instead you had an application on each of their smartphones, they could obtain exactly the same performance as their IP desk phone, but with the added benefits of anywhere, any time access from a device that is easy to carry and already contains all their vital contacts. When you look at it like that, there are few modern employees that would want a handset on the desk instead, and yet many organisations still purchase these, simply because this is the way it has always been done.
I believe that another reason some enterprises are hesitant to start along the digitisation road is the simple fact that doing things a different way may well unearth other infrastructure issues that need to be overcome – sometimes at great cost – in order to make the new approach work effectively. For example, if you were to take your communications into the cloud, then you would have to ensure that the quality of your connectivity was good enough, or if you use an app on a mobile phone to connect to the company network, then your security will have to be improved.
However, despite these fears, organisations that wish to succeed in the digital future will need to adopt these new technologies sooner, rather than later. Digital disruption is now a reality, and technology is evolving rapidly. Therefore it doesn’t help to cling onto the past – after all, it wasn’t that long ago we were using analogue phones and dial-up modems, but these were superseded by better technologies, and the same is now happening with digital.
The key to surviving digital disruption is to adopt these new technologies willingly, in order to avoid being trapped in a dead-end technology scenario, which is exactly what will happen to those businesses that stick to outdated methods of acquiring technology. The old five-year technology cycle is far too long, if you find yourself stuck with obsolete solutions – trying to succeed in this manner would be like trying to box while your feet are encased in cement.
Succeeding in a digitally disrupted world requires the ability to adapt and to change and, most crucially, to be prepared to disrupt yourself, before your business model is disrupted by others. When seeking new technologies, look for flexibility and agility, solutions that don’t constrain your business, that can scale up or down according to requirements, and that can be priced to suit the budget. Head-on is, ultimately, the only way to meet the digital disruption trend.
By Laurent Pieton, director at Contineo Virtual Communications