Ten Thousand Faces of Disruption


Top-5-100x81Innovators across nearly every industry are exploiting mobile applications, web portals and analytics solutions to revamp their customer relationships and destabilize market leaders. Companies that don’t prepare for technological disruption run the risk of following in the footsteps of Kodak, Nokia and Blockbuster, whose stories are the cautionary tales of modern business: industry giants that were felled by technological changes they didn’t see coming.

But managing disruption is daunting and unwieldy. Most companies do not have a disruption playbook they can simply pull off the shelf – true disruption looks different for differently sized companies. A start-up can put a digital strategy in place from the very beginning – investing in a cloud-based application to make appointments, for example, or to handle invoicing or engage with clients. But small- and medium-sized firms often are just feeling their way in the dark. Most do not have on hand well-resourced IT teams with the capacity to think long-term or develop comprehensive disruption strategies.

Though larger, established enterprises do have IT teams equipped to identify disruptors and act at the right time, most face the cumbersome task of modernizing first – making relatively significant changes to the way they operate and preparing employees for the change – a process that takes time and money before they can even get started. Indeed, many established enterprises are in denial about the challenges they face; without an immediate threat, they choose to maintain the status quo and run the very real risk of never being able to catch up.

Though disruption will take a different shape for every company that achieves it, an approach to transformation can be standardized by targeting efforts on the following Top 5 areas:

  1. Move “vanilla” compute and storage to the public cloud. Before enterprise-wide transformation can happen, you must first build a “digital backbone” that enables you to take advantage of the latest technologies. Begin by assessing and modelling the utilization of your application portfolio to determine which applications make functional and/or financial sense to migrate to the cloud. Your ability to take advantage of digital opportunities is directly tied to how you decide to use the public cloud. For most companies this means running a hybrid-cloud environment using cloud brokerage solutions.
  2. Automate repetitive tasks. When exploring any innovative technology, build in time to evaluate how a solution will contribute to the business and whether it can integrate with existing technology. This is especially true for automation. Implementing robotics process automation (RPA) to optimize back-office and/or IT tasks requires first understanding where they produce the best return on investment. Find places where you’d like to eliminate errors, free up resources and capture better data and consider these first.  
  3. Achieve agility. Today’s supply chains and consumers are constantly changing – and moving faster every day. Those who want to keep up – or, even better, stay ahead – must be able to act rapidly. This requires embracing agile development processes and agile-based teams that pull from both the business and IT and take on end-to-end responsibility for a single task. By creating an ecosystem of resources, these teams can push innovation and drastically cut delivery times. Rethinking the way people on the inside work will facilitate growth and the potential for new revenue streams. 
  4. Support connected machines and objects. In many ways, employees’ desire for increased mobility is the trend that most often pushes enterprises out of their comfort zone, forcing them to consider network connectivity, security and user experience in ways – and at a pace – they might not otherwise. Of course, advances in technology mean connectivity can be both before and after the employee experience, throughout the enterprise, capturing new kinds of data and creating a constructive feedback loop to inform workflow processes, machine maintenance and customer engagement. The challenge for many is turning what can become piles of new data into meaningful business value.
  5. Manage data. If the right technology is in place and if the enterprise has a comprehensive data strategy, it can capture specific and actionable information about customer expectations and product improvements. With accurate and relevant data – and only with accurate and relevant data – can an enterprise conduct a social network analysis, 3D modelling and competitive intelligence to get a fresh view of the market. Some companies are even appointing Chief Data Officers to orchestrate resources that will exploit and enhance their back-dated and unused data repositories for future action.

Few companies have the capacity to carry out so many ambitious projects at once. And running all of them simultaneously can create a loss of focus. An overall vision is essential for making the right decisions. Decide first which of these five areas will have the strongest impact on your business and begin your disruption journey there. ISG helps large and small companies compete in today’s changing market. Contact me to discuss how we can help. 

About the author

Julien leads ISG’s digital practice in the South Europe and Middle East Region. Having been involved in more than 80 successful engagements in IT performance assessment and sourcing strategy, Julien brings his clients long-term experience and insight that draws from working with ten of ISG’s largest global clients. His tight focus on achieving business objectives makes him a trusted partner clients can rely on to deliver expert guidance and measurable bottom-line results. Julien has recently led a digital transformation strategy for IT, a hybrid-cloud computing solution design and a big data benchmark for major European corporations. He is fluent in French, English, and Italian.