How CIOs Deal With Digital Disruptions

by drjim on October 9, 2013

Disruptions can quickly affect your company's bottom line…

Disruptions can quickly affect your company’s bottom line…
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Life is full of changes and that is one of the things that makes having the CIO job both so exciting and so challenging. As we spend our time looking inside of our company for ways to make it both more competitive and more efficient, the outside world continues to change at a rapid pace. Sometimes a digital disruption occurs when a new company shows up with a novel idea or approach that can threaten our company. What is a CIO to do when this occurs?

What Is A Digital Disruption?

Before we can talk about how you can deal with a digital disruption, we first need to have a talk about just exactly what they are. So much of what goes on in every market these days is powered by software in one way or another. What this means is that it is very easy for a new firm to show up that is able to use software to create a digital disruption.

The term “digital disruption” was coined by Kyle McNabb who works for Forrester Research. Kyle points out that a firm that is acting as a digital disruptor does not necessarily need to be a startup. All that is required is for the firm to have discovered a way to move faster than everyone else in their industry through the correct application of software and IT technology.

One of the most important things that sets these digital disruption firms apart from everyone else is that they have realized the importance of information technology and are using their IT skills to improve how they interact with their customers. IT is no longer a back office tool that is just used to crunch numbers (or “big data” these days). Instead, it’s a core part of how these firms operate – they are using their IT skills every day to get closer to their customers.

How Do Digital Disruptions Happen?

As a CIO you would like to make your firm become more like the firms that are causing the digital disruptions. If you want to transform your IT department so that it more closely resembles their firm, then you are going to have to make some changes.

The first thing that you are going to have to realize is that your company’s end customers have changed. They are no longer passive people who will be waiting for you to deliver information on your company’s products and services to them in the format that you want. Instead, they are technologically savvy and they are plugged in. You are going to have to use the power of your IT department to feed your information to them so that they can receive it the way that they want to.

Next, you are going to have to understand that it’s really all about the customer and not the products or services that your company offers. What this means to your IT department is that you are going to have to help collect the customer data that is going to be needed in order to allow your company’s employees to create more new ideas for serving your customers faster.

Finally, what your customers are looking for is a complete experience – they don’t just want a product, but rather what they are looking for is to have a relationship with your company. This means that the IT department is going to have to be able to step up and track every interaction that each customer has with the company in order to make sure that that relationship can grow and prosper.

What Does All Of This Mean For You?

Just when you thought you had everything under control, here comes a digital disruption. These types of disruptions can’t be anticipated or predicted. Just about the only thing that you can do is to assume that they’ll eventually happen someday. The key to being a successful CIO is to be able to understand why they happen.

It turns out that the firms who cause a digital disruption have a different approach to IT. It’s a key part of their company and it’s what drives everything that they do. They’ve built their IT departments so that they can connect with customers the way they want to be reached and they have the ability to rapidly adapt the company to what the customers are asking for.

Although being faced with a digital disruption is no easy task, when you are in the CIO position you may be the one person in your company who will be able to react. Making your IT department resemble the IT department of a digital disruptor will allow you to quickly adapt to a changing marketplace and you’ll be able to position your company to change just as fast as the disruption. Plan now and be ready when it happens!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: What do you think is the best way to spot a digital disruption when it starts to happen?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As CIOs we can always be learning about the importance of information technology by watching what other IT organizations are doing. A fantastic opportunity has just shown up in the U.S. As part of the Obamacare overhaul of how healthcare is provided to U.S. citizens, a new web site has been set up to allow every U.S. citizen an opportunity to register for healthcare insurance coverage. All has not gone well and that’s where the real learning for CIOs is happening…

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