Disruption. It’s a term that’s echoing across meeting rooms, conference halls, and corporate hallways around the world.
Meanwhile, disruptive technology is all around us. Autonomous vehicles. 3D printing. Mobile Internet. Business is inhabited by disruptive companies. Google. Uber. Netflix. Skype.
CIOs are seated at the front lines of disruption. They arguably have the most discernible view of how technology – existing or emerging – can be applied to help the business either become more efficient or to establish a more effective way of catering to customers that can enable the company to distinguish itself in the market.
Consider brands that have differentiated themselves. Airlines such as Virgin, Southwest, and JetBlue stand out from others by providing outstanding customer service, low-cost fares, and by making it easy for consumers to fly with them. Walmart distinguishes itself through its pricing strategy. Apple sets itself apart from other consumer technology providers through its innovative products and services and its distinctive branding.
One common thread between each of these companies is their use of technology in distinguishing themselves from their competitors. Virgin, Southwest, and JetBlue disrupted the airline industry through their low-cost models. For its part, Walmart analyzes enormous amounts of data to determine which brands, products, and sizes that different customer segments are most likely to purchase as a particular time on a specific day.
Granted, Walmart is a retail behemoth but it wasn’t always. There are incredible opportunities for traditional companies to seize upon disruptive technologies to drive product, service, or process innovation or to establish a new value model in their respective industries.
Yet despite the evidence, not all CIOs appear to be attuned to the extraordinary changes that are taking place. According to a recent survey by CIO UK Magazine, 74% of CIOs didn’t think that their industry was facing the “prospect of disruption.”
A good starting point for CIOs who are or want to position themselves as trusted advisors within the company is to bring up the topic of disruption in executive steering committee and other meetings involving the C-Suite. Whether your company is in retail, healthcare, financial services, transportation, discrete manufacturing, there are clear examples of disruption that are taking place across industries that executives need to be made aware of (if they aren’t already) and to contemplate.
In many cases, organizational leaders find themselves in a defensive position of responding to disruption that’s occurring in their industry. Yet there are proactive steps that executive teams can take to identify technologies that may be disruptive within their industries as well as opportunities for leveraging technology for disruptive innovation within their own environment.