While the likes of Uber and Airbnb might have caught the headlines of late for their disruption of the status quo, advances in technology are making it possible for transformative business interactions to be day-to-day occurrences. 

As customer expectations change, and in a world demanding immediate gratification, same-day deliveries, and more interactive and satisfying shopping experiences are now the norm. Such heightened expectation from the customer has a dramatic impact upon the supply chain as a whole. The resulting effect has been the necessity for businesses of all shapes and sizes to create new business models and changes in value streams. Only then are they truly able to compete in today’s dog-eat-dog digital world.

The harsh reality is in fact most serious. If businesses today fail to change, they risk much more than missing out – the repercussions can be deadly. Resistance to change, or inertia of any kind, can be wholly detrimental to a business’s health, swiftly rendering the enterprise irrelevant in the face of the competition. And the threat comes from multiple directions – the established industry heavyweights with vast resources to disrupt quickly and effectively, to the nimble newcomers capitalising on the cheaper offering of platform providers. The reality is indeed serious – businesses must disrupt or die.

As a result, we have inevitably seen many organisations responding with a significant focus at the front-end of their digital offering. These businesses have opted to hone the omni-channel experience, bringing more consistent and contextual experiences across the different consumer channels, coupled with a renewed focus on website design and aesthetics. However, this alone will not suffice and is simply scratching the surface of a much deeper threat. Investment must go much deeper and all the way to the enterprise’s backend systems, if that business is to be capable of disruption and therefore survival.

Speed Is Of The Essence

Not only can competitor disruption be brutal, it can be quick, meaning that getting more speed into the operation is critical. When addressing this, priorities should be rethinking the use of data and key business processes and ensuring your business infrastructure is as flexible as possible. Consider the microservices architectural approach – deconstructed business processes that can be developed, deployed and scaled independently to respond to both threats and emerging opportunities much quicker. Only by replacing large, single applications with these configurable building blocks will business be equipped to support the delivery of the 360-degree engagement and experience model demanded by today’s customer.

As true disruption hinges on fast responses and decision-making, adding real-time analytics to the mix certainly makes things more interesting. Armed with the ability to review changes and the subsequent impact of those changes, the quality of data and contextual insight collated can be one of your most powerful weapons.

While the weapon might be potent, motivated teams are also a necessity and required to get more involved with the agenda and even drive the decision-making process. Their commitment is invaluable, as not all the answers around digital transformation lie in the technology. Disruption requires a holistic solution, including empowered people behind the technology.

A Change In Mindset

While most people remain resistant to change, the continuous reinvention required for disruption needs a team that is comfortable operating in a state of flux. For some, this demands a shift in mindset. While such a mindset may be inherent in some individuals, other will require strategies to cultivate this change in behaviour.

Agile thinking can be hampered by the size, silos and governance of many corporate cultures. CEOs therefore need to build teams whose job is to disrupt. These teams should incorporate people who are more than simply effective reactors to change, but proactive staff seeking out new opportunities for reinvention and improvement, displaying an appetite for measured risks.

One central tenet for success has to be corporate employees willing and able to act like entrepreneurs in a start-up, keen to kick things off quickly, regroup if it doesn’t work out, ready with the next idea. Culture, too, is important. One that celebrates this entrepreneurial spirit and sees failure as a learning experience is invaluable. While we continually focus on how today’s more digitally empowered consumers dictate product development, we shouldn’t forget the innovation that comes from within the organisation. And to truly thrive, revolution not evolution could be the key.