How to Make Your Enterprise as Agile as a Startup

The accepted wisdom is that startups are agile and innovative and large enterprises are followers. But these six IT trends may be changing all that, giving large enterprises the capability to compete as innovators.

Tue, January 28, 2014

CIO — Startups are lean, agile and at the forefront of innovation. In contrast, established enterprises tend to be slow and ungainly — or at best, fast-followers — unable to drive innovation in the marketplace. That's what "everyone" says. But what if "everyone" is wrong?

"We're seeing large enterprises — armed with the resources, scale and drive to reinvent themselves through digital transformation—reasserting leadership in their markets," says Paul Daugherty, chief technology officer of multinational management consulting, technology services and outsourcing firm Accenture.

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"Leading companies are adopting digital to drive their processes more effectively and transform how they go to market, collaborate with partners, engage with customers and manage transactions," says Daugherty. "Digital is rapidly becoming part of the fabric of their operating DNA and they are poised to become the digital power brokers of tomorrow."

Large Enterprises Are Using Digital Technology to Become Market Disruptors

In its Accenture Technology Vision 2014, Accenture underscores six technology trends that it says are allowing large enterprises to become market disruptors that drive innovation like startups do.

That's not to say startups and other small and midsize companies are going to cease disrupting markets and innovating. Accenture acknowledges you can expect more overnight sensations like Instagram, Twitter and Airbnb, but you can also expect large enterprises to pour their resources and capital into embracing technology disruption and using that muscle to carve out new digital empires.

Accenture points to examples like the global supermarket chain, Tesco, which has created interactive grocery stores in airports and subway stations and expanded its reach into movie streaming, ebooks and tablets.

"The grocery retailer is well on its way to becoming a truly digital business," Accenture states in the report. "More than 20 percent of Tesco's online sales now come through smartphones, and 10 percent of all orders from Tesco Direct come through its mobile website. Over the years, Tesco's leaders—IT leaders included—have moved from experimenting with social media, mobile, cloud computing and analytics toward mastery of those digital domains. They have learned by doing, steadily gaining the skills and the competencies to pull ahead of their competitors and prove to their stakeholders that they have what it takes to excel in the new digital economy."

Other examples include GE, which has embraced machine data and analytics to form the core of what it calls the industrial Internet, and Disney, which is using digital technologies to transform the way visitors use its parks and pay for food and merchandise. Some are even entering whole new markets, like AT&T, which is entering the home security market with its Digital Life service.

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