Defining the new generation of digital disruptors

Published on the 27/08/2015 | Written by John Ascroft

In industries from finance to utilities, the same familiar forces are pushing companies into digital business transformation says John Ascroft from Jade Software…

Consumers want to do everything online and on mobile. Computing power, connected devices and technical innovation are all multiplying, and companies need to keep up. Technology is dropping barriers to new competitors, so markets are getting fiercer. To serve connected customers, staff need access to consolidated data, and the tools to quickly and accurately update it.

That’s why digital business transformation is a priority for so many companies around the world. Those that make the most of this opportunity will become a new wave of digital disruptors and, unlike the smaller digital-first (or digital-only) attackers that have typified disruption so far, they’ll have the advantages of scale and incumbency behind them.

Imagine if the next digital disruptor was you.

Digital business models change the way you work. They take in company culture, technology, and the role of information. The cultural change puts customers in charge, and prioritises projects that make their lives easier. Throughout the company, it becomes natural to ask how technology can solve problems, and use data for every decision possible.

That makes data incredibly important. It’s imperative to integrate data from separate systems, letting people and software deal with a single, robust data layer. That same integration paves the way for more technological leaps, like the creation of better software and apps for customers and staff.

Being able to quickly design and build new software is a new source of difference. Innovating, for example, by combining right-brain creativity and left-brain analytics, is all part of the transformation. This blurs the lines between traditional business and IT as teams collaborate in delivering a connected online experience for customers.

Digital business models serve customers who want to do everything easily and immediately. They prepare business systems for a world of commoditised, changing, connected devices. By their very nature, digital business models are disruptive.

Businesses that expect the future to be different and challenging, and are built to adapt and respond, will set new agendas for their industries. And when you’re the company that everyone else is following, you’re the new disruptor.

The ingredients of disruption

When you start seeing different aspects of your digital business model work in combination, that’s proof of your new disruptive ability.

Take the intersection of data integration and customer-led design as an example. By unlocking data held in legacy systems, you get better insight into customer pain points. You can offer digital services that cross the boundaries that once separated systems.

Thinking about everything from customers’ point of view, and even involving users in creative digital projects, changes the quality of products and services. When quick, agile design and development of digital services is added, it becomes possible to piece together new products with hours, not weeks, of prototyping. With a small-scale customer pilot, monitor real-life use of new solutions, making improvements before release to the public. Build times drops to weeks, not months, getting to market quickly.

Digital disruption is going mainstream

The digital business transformation wave is changing one old rule of disruption. It has been an advantage to be small, and often new, to the market. That made it easier to move fast. But without the benefits of established market presence, disruptors have only achieved so much. Online-only banks and power retailers, for example, made big waves but most consumers simply stayed put.

Technology, attitudes, and competitive pressures have moved on. Today new, small competitors aren’t the only ones which can move fast enough to threaten incumbents. There’s a strong blueprint for digital business transformation that gives established companies a route to become disruptors themselves. And when they do, the benefits of incumbency come along for the ride – customer base, workforce, resources, and knowledge.

Not every transformation will be equally successful, and the race is on in industries from energy retail to insurance. In every case, big rewards are in store for the generation of businesses that bring digital disruption to the mainstream.


John Ascroft

John Ascroft is the Chief Innovation Officer at Jade Software Corporation.

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