7 Ways to Survive Digital Disruption

Organizations can adapt and survive or resist and plummet.

By Michael Brenner

By Michael Brenner July 14, 2020

Relevancy is critical to business success. In today’s rapidly evolving marketplace, companies and individuals alike must keep up with new digital trends if they are to continue meeting consumer expectations. Traditional business models are being pushed to the wayside, and many organizations are struggling to keep pace – or worse yet, resisting change altogether.

How a company responds will determine its future – adapt and survive or resist and plummet. Even if a company has embraced digital transformation, knowing what changes to make and how to manage updated business processes is a significant challenge.

What Is Digital Disruption?

Put simply, digital disruption is a change caused by emerging technologies and new business models. Importantly, these innovations can affect the value of existing products and services. That’s why it’s called a disruption – new products, services, businesses, and business models disrupt the marketplace. The marketplace and those operating within it then need to be re-evaluated and revalued.

Companies like Uber and Airbnb are classic examples of digital disruption. Both platforms capitalize on new technologies and changing consumer habits, and both have significantly impacted more traditional businesses and systems in their respective industries. Their disruptive presence has forced longer-standing companies to rethink their tried-and-true models. Failure to keep up with the newly set status quo has and will continue to be disastrous for many in the taxi and hospitality industries.

7 Ways the Enterprise Can Survive the Digital Disruption

Don’t change for the sake of it – It’s impossible to keep up with every emerging technology, and an effort to do so will spread your IT team too thinly. Remember, just because something is possible doesn’t mean it makes sense. Even things that make sense may not adhere to existing data regulations and other legal requirements.

Instead of transforming for the sake of it, focus on changes that will result in a genuine competitive advantage. Try to optimize business processes and increase the value of products or services. For example, built-in customer experience analytics have been shown to boost ROI. In summary, prioritize changes that will result in sustainable and significant differentiation.

Watch out for legacy systems disguised as disruptive technologies – Disruptive technologies afford businesses unprecedented levels of agility. Established companies know this and develop all-in-one solutions that do little more than masquerade old systems and promise enhanced flexibility. The reality is, however, vendors are even more locked in than before.

To realize the full potential of today’s digital economy, be cautious of hidden barriers, ingenuine offerings, and dressed-up legacy systems.

Make customer-centric changes – Businesses small and large are driven by one fundamental goal: to provide a solution. It is vital not to lose sight of this goal while embracing disruptive technologies to evolve business operations.

Utilize digital innovations to connect with target markets. Watch them closely. Take note of their pain points. What changes can be made to minimize friction or improve the end user’s experience?

Good enough isn’t enough – If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right? Not quite. Times have changed and things will continue to change. Even best-of-breed technologies with proven track records are no longer sufficient to ensure your business survives. Good enough isn’t enough, especially as fresh companies with innovative, digital-native thinkers onboard invest in cutting-edge solutions.

Holding on to an old system that gets the job done but offers just a fraction of the functionality of newer systems, it could be time to let go.

Complex technologies, simple solutions – The goal is to deliver a solution. Many enterprises get so caught up in the latest and greatest in tech that they completely over-complicate their solution. Use technology to streamline processes, hasten delivery time, track key metrics, and enhance the power of your offering.

Some of the most disruptive companies are built on some of the simplest ideas. For example, Netflix provides movies and TV-shows on-demand. Uber matches drivers with riders. Airbnb connects travelers to private accommodation providers. Each provides an easy, effective, direct solution to their customers.

Build a team you can count on – Conducting a digital transformation involves all areas of business: IT, marketing, finance, HR, and beyond. Strategic recruiting is crucial to conquering the next wave of innovations. It requires a reliable, adaptive, talented team by your side.

The best employees synthesize information and combine strategy, hardware and software deployment, and consumer experience. They can think both broadly and in minute detail to determine how new technologies that fit within one aspect of a company will impact the bigger picture. The right people can help cultivate ideas and innovations that are invaluable.  

Favor distributed business models – Single sources of computing power for each department just won’t cut it anymore. Successfully leveraging new technologies to enhance both in-house and end-user experience relies on the seamless integration of several services. Cloud-based solutions can increase capabilities and convenience for all parties involved: suppliers, vendors, partners, customers, and more.

Remember, data is a company’s greatest asset. It requires a secure, reliable, efficient way to share that data with others – wherever they are in the world – all while managing increased IT complexity.

Self-evaluation is key. The tables are turning. Rewards await those that can adapt, but bigger rewards await those that can disrupt. To remain competitive, you must invest in self-evaluation. Don’t sit back and play the victim of changing times. Fight for that first-mover advantage.

Michael Brenner is a keynote speaker, author and CEO of Marketing Insider Group. Michael has written hundreds of articles on sites such as Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and The Guardian and he speaks at dozens of leadership conferences each year covering topics such as marketing, leadership, technology and business strategy. Follow him @BrennerMichael.

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