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Disrupt or be disrupted

Posted by: Phil Ryan - CRM Solutions Manager
When: 15 May 2017

I generally hate trite sayings like this; our industry thrives on them. However, "Disrupt or be Disrupted", does serve to drive home the stark reality of the increasing speed at which digitisation is happening.

Take a moment and look back on just the last 10 years to see the enormous digital shift that has happened and the impact to our lives both work and personal.  For instance, the iPhone was launched barely ten years ago; think of the impact this has had on apps, music and all mobility services that have launched as a result.

Look at the likes of Google, Amazon, Facebook; they have leveraged their grip on data with such scale that they have become more trusted to deliver services that traditionally whole industries and sectors were specialised in providing.

Finally, think of you as a consumer, what has changed for you in the last 10 years? Think of the services you use (Hailo, Uber), the channels you communicate on (Facebook, Instagram), the way you buy things now and how connected you are and need to be. Recently, on announcing our summer holiday plans, my eldest child's first question was 'will they have Wifi'. We are living in a truly digital age.

The Future is Digitised

In the digital future, it is likely you will not compete with the same organisations as you do now. New business models will emerge allowing your customers to defect from your products and services without you even knowing it, in what google calls the zero moment of truth. The customer will follow the value and trust which a digitised offering provides, such as immediacy, intimacy and certainty. 

Digital Transformation

So what initiatives do you need to kick off to mitigate being disrupted or better still to become the disruptor? The answer is Digital Transformation. This IT buzzword is the term coined for the journey organisations will need to go on to create a digital core and push forward to the agile edge. 

The start of this journey begins with defining the strategy and one of the key early strategic activities is ‘scenario planning’. Let's look at ‘scenario planning’ which is of interest to me now in my role as Enterprise Architect.

Scenario Planning

The aim of the scenario planning process creates a series of plausible future scenarios. Importantly it's not about trying to predict the future, that's for the visionaries! It's about listing out several potential future scenarios that could arise. Each of these scenarios could takes inputs from a combination of:

  • your organisation's value proposition - what actual value do you deliver
  • our customers behaviour and motivations in the new digital age - could they get your value in other ways
  • your competitors - are your current competitors repositioning or are other non-sector competitors moving in
  • industry and disruptive trends in the market
  • other factors such as compliance, data security, data protection, Brexit and future trade wars

For each of these scenarios we then look at the impacts and opportunities the scenario presents to the organisation and what actions we should take to mitigate or take advantage of that scenario. 

By going through this process, we can present these plausible scenarios, impacts and actions to allow the management team to evaluate and inform the Digital Strategy.

It doesn't take a specific mindset or expertise to generate these scenarios. All you need is your own internal leadership team and good facilitation. Access to the trends coming from the strategic thinkers in IT and your industry is also useful, to help surface the unknown, unknowns (as Rumsfeld poetically termed it).

Time to Act

Back in the mid-60's, UK Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, said 'a week is a long time in politics'. He stated this to describe the fast-changing fortunes that can happen to political groups in the course of a single week. In the digital age we are living in, that change is ferocious and the fortunes are enormous.

An organisation’s strategic plan will need to have time horizons of just a few years and deliver the ability to launch new business models and propositions quickly, test their success, scale if successful or drop as quickly. The only way to become this agile will be to ensure your organisation is transformed to have a digital heart. 


If you would like to hear more from Phil about digital transformation, join him and a panel of expert speakers at ‘Journey to the Agile Edge’, a half-day seminar organised by Ergo and Microsoft where we will offer practical steps to digital transformation. Find out more here www.AgileEdge.ie




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