How to survive disruption rules

Gavin Heaton

Last week’s Open Opportunity Forum in Sydney was a wide ranging affair, featuring federal government ministers, business leaders, departmental secretaries, academics and data scientists.

It was clear from the conversation that “innovation is on the agenda” – and that the wheels of government, no matter how slow they turn, are once again, moving forward.

Government, it seems, has been battling its own disruption – putting government services online, enabling technology to take some of the transactional load and streamlining processes.

Disruption is coming whether you like it or not: the taxi industry is facing-off with Uber and Lyft

Martin Hoffman, Secretary of the NSW Department of Finance, Services and Innovation explained the complex interweaving of technology, process and policy required to transform “customer service” for the State’s citizens.

In the business world, we’ve been moving in this direction for some time, but continue to encounter roadblocks, indecision and outdated technology.

Wrapping up the Open Opportunity Forum, we presented Seven Unbelievable Rules for Survival – tips that are perfect for leaders and executives facing the challenges and opportunities of digital disruption.

You can also download the full version of this presentation here but for the purposes of this post, here’s a summary of surviving disruption.

Disruption is coming to you whether you like it or not.

In every industry the shift to digital has already begun. Transport: from Taxi’s to Uber and Lyft. Education: from schools and universities to Udemy and Coursera. Property: from agents to These are just a few examples of course. The list goes on.

To compete you need to improve your “innovation fitness”.

Digital disruption is competitive innovation that uses digital platforms, technology and business models to create new value. Organisations and their leaders and management must now improve their innovation fitness.

Rule one – learn to pitch like a startup

Startups are great at pitching their services and offerings. All innovators and change agents need to build this skill.

Rule two – platforming: build a SMAC stack

The secret to success in the digital world is to create a platform linking social, mobile, analytics and cloud together. This is what technology experts call the SMAC Stack and it provides you a powerful competitive advantage.

Rule three – think As-A-Service

How do you transform your processes, capabilities and expertise into a service? While we say that Uber is the largest taxi company in the world but doesn’t own any cabs, it is in-fact a service not a product. To survive digital disruption, it’s time to think of your organisation or agency as a service.

Rule four – beware the creepy line

There is much that can be done with big data. It may be that we can offer highly targeted service or offers, but are you being just a little bit creepy to your customers?

Rule five – NoMoPhobia is real

Have you ever felt the dread that occurs when you leave your mobile phone somewhere? This is called NoMoPhobia. And it is real. We need to design our digital services with a mobile first perspective.

Rule six – learn to speak geek

These days, every business person requires a certain level of digital proficiency. It’s no longer good enough to “turn it off and turn it back on again”. In the full presentation, I also share some interesting (and slightly controversial) research on the use of social media in “private time”.

Rule seven – don’t be a robot

It is easy to fall into the trap of automating all your interactions. The humans in the audience can spot a robot at a 100 paces. Resist the urge and focus on building value.

Gavin Heaton is a marketing technologist, strategist and advisor. He is the founder of the Disruptor’s Handbook – a strategy and innovation firm that helps organisations design and create a collaborative future for a digital world. 

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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