Catalysts, catastrophes and preparing for disruption
The world of business is facing disruption. Thanks to technology, old business models
are being revolutionised and we must be prepared. That was the message that I heard loud and clear at EMC World 2015.
We’ve seen it in many industries: a few examples are Hailo and Uber re-inventing the taxi businesses, iTunes and Spotify transforming the music industry and Netflix and Hulu challenging traditional film and television distribution model.
But what’s the unifying factor? And what do business leaders need to understand in order to prepare for this transformation?
Firstly, it’s important to understand that regardless of what you sell, what you do and what customers you serve, the mechanism by which you create value and ultimately make money is increasingly and fundamentally being defined by software. In many cases this requires a huge change, and considering most businesses probably didn’t start off running a software business, this is no mean feat.
Secondly, you will need to change mid-flight – you can’t just wait until you land and hope everything is ok when you do. You definitely can’t afford to say the planes are running just fine as they are, and there is no need to change – even though some people will undoubtedly think this is the case, especially as problems can be hard to detect (immediately). When “disruption day” happens, a lack of action, or change, could have a proportionately disastrous effect on the business.
And finally: disruption day is coming sooner than you think! Look at the fallen giants: retailers, banks, fashion-houses, entire industries in some cases. I’d say that within a year we’ll see every major business model facing a software-enterprise threat (if it isn’t already battling it). The changes the internet and digital technology have caused are permanent and irrevocable and there’s only a small window in which change must happen if businesses are to compete in the next wave.
For me, this transition is core to the experience of being a leader in business today. If you’re not having conversations and putting the steps in place to evolve your business, you will face some challenges as the markets, consumers and businesses alike, move on. That’s before we’ve even touched upon the demands coming from within the business, from end-users through to different lines of business heads.
We have been spoiled by the apparent ease with which a whole range of applications and IT services are delivered to us. However it is not easy for a traditional business to make the journey from a provider of products and services to software enterprise. This is one of the reasons teams within traditional enterprises can end up breaking every risk and compliance regulation there is – because it’s simply easier, quicker and cheaper to buy public cloud services to meet demands than to gear up the IT department to be agile enough to support this era of next-generation services.
IT needs to tackle this head on. Core to this is becoming a more strategic function within the business – helping other business leaders revisit their assumptions around the fundamentals of the business.
The benefits and necessity of change is difficult to ignore, but we also cannot ignore the challenges and costs involved. So I ask the question: what is required to actually make businesses and IT departments think: “Right, I’m going to overhaul my IT infrastructure!”? What are the catalysts for IT transformation that will soon become catastrophes if not addressed?
The answers, my friends, can be found in many of the compelling keynotes and breakouts sessions from EMC 2015. These are now available to view at your leisure online at: http://www.emcworld.com/index.htm