Prepare to be disrupted - and to fight back

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Stephen Ponsford says ICT teams have to should out loud and lead the way for the organisation in responding to major business technology shifts.

You have to be the “canaries in your coal mine,” says Ponsford, Senior Cloud Advisor, Chief Technology Office, at Revera.

He says the focus for New Zealand organisations is how to get into a position of fighting back from the technology side.

Ponsford shares lessons learned from his work at IT Heavy Hitters, a charity boxing event.

One of the things that can potentially happen to participants is having one’s teeth knocked out, or getting a black eye, he explains. "So you start thinking about your fight strategy, how do you fight back and what are the implications."

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What are the fuel sources of disruption in your industry? What are the things you know are not right about your industry that are potential attack vectors?Stephen Ponsford, Revera

As he explains, if you get hit in boxing and your opponent stands back, he has just given you an opportunity to hit him.

“The secret when you attack is to be positive.”

So one question to ask, he says, is what are the things that allow disruption to happen to your industry and where do they come from?

“What are the fuel sources of disruption in your industry?”

As well, “What are the things you know are not right about your industry that are potential attack vectors?”

“Basically, get on the front foot and attack that,” he states. “It could be creating a brand or service that is essentially untouchable.”

Analytics is an exciting field to incorporate in this strategy, he says. He once saw a visualisation of a tennis game, where the players apply digital intelligence to any given opponent.

They know what shots are most successful, they know where they are most likely to hit back, he states. “They go into the game with unbelievable actionable intelligence on their opponent. And their opponent has no idea this is happening.

Stephen Ponsford of Revera at the CIO100 event in Wellington.

“l can only guess where digital intelligence can take us,” he states, “but without doubt I can see many current jobs being done with digital intelligence.”

He thus calls on organisations to “get ready for the fight”.

Get a real pulse into the business, know what is going on in the business.

“Just get one piece of data and get it on a real-time dashboard,” he states.

“It is our job as leaders to set the course. This is what we want to do, where we would like to go.”

Perhaps there is a need to create a chief science role whose job is to “experiment get out there and have fun”, he says. “You can go to Alibaba right now and you can custom physical prototypes that will arrive in a few business days.”

“You can physically create things, like little sensors that cost 20 cents each and have them custom manufactured for your needs.”

“If they fall on the wayside, turn it off and move on. That comes with a culture of nobody wants to fail over and over again. But nobody should be so petrified of failing that they never try a new thing.”

Lessons from digital disrupters

Kenneth Arredondo of CA Technologies at the CIO100 event in Auckland.

Kenneth Arredondo, president and general manager, Asia Pacific and Japan for CA Technologies, says enterprises can view digital disruption as a crisis or opportunity.

"If traditional organisations don’t implement a new approach to transform their business, they will be left behind," he states.

He shares findings from the recent survey by Freeform Dynamics about enterprises that embrace disruption as an opportunity.

These organisations are prepared for continued market disruption, according to the report.

The report, commissioned by CA Technologies, finds digital disrupters are 3.5 times more likely than their mainstream peers to recognise the importance of being a software driven business, and 2.5 times more likely to use agile software development techniques.

If traditional organisations don’t implement a new approach to transform their business, they will be left behind.Kenneth Arredondo, CA Technologies

Using the power of software, these organisations exploit broader technology and customer trends to rapidly and cost effectively enhance existing products and services, or bring new digital offerings to market.

They also drive disruption within their own organisation. The changes, known collectively as ‘digital transformation’, will be disruptive. But the alternative is being continually constrained in their ability to succeed in the digital era.

These organisations also learned from those who achieve the best results. The survey finds the top digital disrupter trait is having a high emphasis on emerging digital channels to the customer.

While customer engagement should never be the sole focus of digital transformation, it is an important part of it.

Digital disrupters are between two and three times more likely than mainstream organisations to regard emerging digital channels to the customers as critical to their business. These include newer areas such as wearable technology and Internet of Things, the report states.

They aim to provide optimal customer experience by providing consistent and harmonious interaction and capability across channels, both digital and traditional.

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Stephen Ponsford of Revera and Kenneth Arredondo of CA Technologies spoke at the 2016 CIO100 events in Welllington and Auckland respectively.

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

6 digital transformation success stories