Embrace disruptive innovation to stay relevant

Published on October 24, 2016

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CEOs and leaders need to embrace disruptive innovation and leverage technology as part of a refreshed business strategy and culture shift.

By Experteq CEO, Shane Baker

In 2016, Australia ranked 19th on the Global Innovation Index, behind leading innovation nations such as Switzerland, Sweden, the UK and the US. Having fallen two places since 2015, Australia is struggling to keep pace with the rest of the world.

With the Turnbull government introducing the innovation agenda earlier in the year, we are undergoing a transition from a resource boom to an ideas-driven and tech-savvy nation. However, across organisations of all sizes and scales, we have a tendency to react to disruptive technologies, rather than thinking strategically about how they fit into an organisation.

Disruption is not negative, but necessary. We need to ensure that we are the ones disrupting our own business for the greater good, before someone else disrupts our market and takes our customers.

External forces shouldn’t be the only catalyst for this shift. Rather, new technologies and innovations should be embraced as part of a refreshed business strategy and culture shift.

Ask yourself: why am I implementing this application, technology or method? How will it keep my business model and service offerings relevant to the market? How will it improve on my unique value proposition, or create a new one? Will this give me a long-term strategic benefit or is it simply a short-term fix?

If you can’t pinpoint the ‘why’ of a disruptive technology and ensure that it aligns with the goals of your business, you are just playing catch up and likely creating greater confusion and negative disruption for your own staff and customers.

Here are four tips for thinking strategically about disruption as part of an internal culture shift:

1. Be tomorrow’s leader

When disruption is timely and relevant, it can catapult your business into exciting new territory. Don’t let history, existing contractual obligations and outdated modes of thinking hold you back.

A customer today should be a prospect for tomorrow. A customer-centric approach is crucial; it’s no use having a knee-jerk reaction to the latest app or social media platform. Before you implement a new technology, assess whether it will add value to your customers through improved engagement and ease of doing business.

By demonstrating a strong customer focus, you can be tomorrow’s leader, not a fast follower. Leverage disruption as part of your internal culture, and understand how to apply the technology to enable better performance. Failure to effectively integrate a new platform can be costly and difficult to bounce back from.

2. Enable performance through technology

An internal shift requires you to examine your internal operational models – can they be done more efficiently? Just because they aren’t broken, doesn’t mean that they can’t be improved. Define strategy gaps and where improvement is needed. Identify how this aligns and adds value to the strategy and value proposition.

The next step is to decide how to improve, and whether a disruptive technology can help. This will depend upon your go-to market strategy. Does a single approach through multiple channels make sense for your business, or multiple approaches for each channel? A strategic approach to disruption will enable better performance and help you maximise the benefits of new technologies.

3. Drive innovation among your people

Innovation and technology are designed to help your organisation, not hurt it. No matter how impressive a new technology might be, people are at the forefront of any cultural or behavioural change.

Think about prevalent attitudes in your organisation. Have complacency and inertia set in? Is there a framework to drive disruption and lead to greater to value, both for the business and for customers? Some other questions to think about are:

    • Will this technology add value to the customer?
    • How can this technology enhance quality of service for my organisation?
    • Does it fit into my business strategy, including both short-term need and long-term goals?
    • Will it help my organisation to perform specific tasks and functions better?

4. Look to adjacent markets

When considering disruptive business models and technology, look beyond your own industry. Innovative and original ideas can be sourced from industries outside your own. This is because they may be facing the pressures of changing customer demands earlier than your particular industry.

Looking to adjacent markets can allow you to fast track your innovation and take-up of disruptive technologies. Aim to build alliances and partnerships with companies outside of your industry, enabling you to collaborate, share ideas and help each other advance. These strategies will help you to become a disruptive leader in your industry.

This article was first published on October 14, 2016 by CEO Magazine.

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