Digital disruption is coming to get you. Brace yourself.

Digital disruption is a concept highlighted in Forrester’s recent CIO Summit and UK Summit and is the subject of James L. McQuivey’s new book which is due to be published in January 2013.

The key principles behind digital disruption are that it creates new business models, changes value streams, and is faster, more disruption and more pervasive than any earlier change driver we have ever seen. Why? Because it is digital. And Forrester says that for those of you thinking that hunkering down and letting it blow past, like you did for previous trends – FORGET IT. This is not a trend. It is a permanent shift.

This was a theme of TUCON, TIBCO’s User Conference in Las Vgas – “Everything is Diffferent”

CEOS are scared, very scared

One good thing is that senior executives are aware of the challenge; 71% of global CEOs surveyed in IBM’s 2012 CEO Global Survey said the top external force of change is technology.  Forrester CEO George Colony warned delegates at the CIO Summit: “There are many people now who want to disrupt your business. It does not cost much to disrupt business.” Business leaders are becoming more IT-savvy, according to Colony: “The average age of the CEO in the top 100 companies is 59. They went to college before computers. Most of the CEOs did not use computers.  “But today, we are seeing CEOs who had Apple II home computers or IBM PCs at school.”

Platforms make this possible

This fundamental issue is that the new platform providers, such as Apple, Amazon EC2,, are making it way faster and cheaper for new entrants to be disruptors and for them to get new ideas to market. Now it is possible to prototype not just new products and services but new businesses. Get something out and iterate to success, or kill it off quickly. So you current business is going to be challenged by either big players driving out thousands of new ideas or thousands of small new entrants each coming up with a new idea.  So the advice, is disrupt yourself before others disrupt you.

But another change is is that the disruptors are now coming up with new customer experiences, not new products. So how do you disrupt your own business? The concept is “adjacent possibilities”. Think about the customer needs adjacent to your current products and services. Rather than pick a 5 year vision for the product. In the new world of constant change you cannot predict that far. No-one can. There are 40 million Kindles and 70 million iPads in existence now. Neither was in existence 2 years ago. So create the minimum to get to market (MVP=minimum viable product), listen intently to your users, and iterate, iterate, iterate.

So what are the implications?

There is plenty of evidence that technology is changing businesses. You only have to look at the print and publishing (newspapers and magazines), music industry (CDs and merchanising) and movies (films and DVD) to see the decimation of their industries. But now, no industry seems to be immune.

So the action is to start thinking about how your business could and should be disrupted. Those people in your company may be called Product Marketing Specialists, Product Strategists, or Product Management. You will be able to spot them. They are the ones looking very confused and frightened. Because their world is being turned upside down.

They need help and support. Sadly it seems like James’ book will not be available as Christmas presents for these people.  But for now, they need to be given permission to think wild thoughts, many of which may come true and be a massive new market.

In summary

Digital consumers….coming up with new product ideas….which deliver new experiences…which require new ways of delivering.


Tags: , ,

Categories: Customer Service, Disruption, Innovation

Author:Ian Gotts

Founder of, tech advisor, investor, speaker and author. Runs on Duracell. Based in San Francisco and in a 747., is the business analysis app designed to support Salesforce #AwesomeAdmins. 100% cloud, it is tightly integrated into Salesforce. Use the free core capabilities to capture business processes and embed them inside objects, with single sign-on.

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3 Comments on “Digital disruption is coming to get you. Brace yourself.”

  1. October 4, 2012 at 10:42 am #

    THE PRESENT: SAS (software as a service)

    MPS will be the flag-ship for
    Profitable Fulfillment of Customer Needs
    (satisfy customer needs and make a fair profit by doing so)
    thus achieving
    (everybody wins: customers, vendors, investors, academia, government. society)

    An Iconoclastic B2B Eco-system for Enterprise Mobility in which the core componets are AD (axiomatic design), SBN (smart business networks), VGI (virtual global internships) and Integrative Thinking.

    Regards from Sweden,
    Alias Sir George the Dragon Slayer
    Knighted in Canadian Dragons’ Den 2009

  2. October 6, 2012 at 12:08 am #

    Reblogged this on Sykes' Blog.

  3. Olivier Djololian
    October 9, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

    Excellent insights!

    You clearly show us that disruptors can innovate on a continuum from new services, new products, new operating models, new customer experiences – and this one is key, new business models, to entirely new industries… all that at the speed of light.

    When they get on the radar of more established players it is too late.

    Helps with the thinking, thanks.

    Olivier Djololian

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