There are a number of disruptions that create havoc and chaos to your evolving digital business. Either individually and in combination, they could inflict a death spiral. Despite the way it sounds, this is not hyperbole. This is not a myth. This is serious.
Here are a few to think about. There are others.
- Technological innovations (technology-induced), which are more impactful than ever before. However, again, it’s not the technology that drives the disruption. It’s how it is used and adopted by customers, partners, competitors and various stakeholders. Technologies with clear disruption potential include IoT, artificial intelligence, edge computing, virtual and augmented reality and blockchain. However, the most disruptive potential occurs when they get combined and enable new applications as we see in the convergence of AI, IoT and big data analytics. In industrial change the convergence of IT and OT is also a game changer.
- Customer behavior and demands. Customers can be pesky creatures creating so-called customer-induced disruption that is not necessarily related to technology. Technology often enables or, as just mentioned, causes it, when adopted and turned into business challenges. An example of a force that drives digital change and is not caused by technology but merely strengthened by it in combination with other factors: the demand of customers for ease of use and simplicity in dealing with businesses is far older than today. It goes back to times when even the Internet didn’t exist. In that sense, digital change can be simply catching up too because businesses don’t have another option anymore (it’s not as if they didn’t know the importance of making interactions and support for customers easy and frictionless decades ago).
- Innovation- and invention-induced. Entirely novel approaches to human and business challenges, as well as innovations and inventions that create a new reality, whether it’s in science, business, technology or even a non-technological context of true innovation can be disruptive. The invention of medicines that change healthcare and society (as has happened several times in the past), the printing press, the train, what can be next? Your best bet is probably in life sciences and the application of technology within the human body and mind.
- Ecosystem-induced. Economical changes, demands from partners who want you to adapt, evolutions towards collaborations in business ecosystems, regulatory changes (consider the impact of the GDPR, for example), geo-political changes, the list is endless. Regulators are not just looking at the impact of digital technologies from a personal data protection perspective as they do with the GDPR in the EU of course. The world is full of new regulations and they do require approaches on the level of people, processes, strategies AND technologies as anyone who has been serious about GDPR compliance can tell you. There are calls to regulate the IoT in the US and other countries, calls to regulate blockchain, the usage of IoT is already being limited in the upcoming EU ePrivacy Regulation (and GDPR), all across the globe energy efficiency and ecology are driving the agenda in smart buildings and smart cities (e.g. the revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive in the EU that demands the usage of smart technologies and additional support for electrical cars), banking regulations are changing, the list is really endless.
And this ecosystem aspect brings us again to this essential aspect of digital business change: the interdependency and interconnectedness of everything.
It all overlaps and is connected; from disruption, business processes and models to business activities and each single activity of the organization and the broader ecosystem in which it operates. The butterfly effect in action. Think about how virtually all business processes de facto are linked, the interconnectedness of business activities from the customer perspective, the way information runs across all digital transformations and much more.