BOSTON -- Many organizations fail to recognize digital disruption before it's too late, causing them to miss out on valuable business opportunities. And unlike in the past, when the impact of new technology on traditional industries could play out over 20 years, digital disruptions of entire industries can now happen in a couple of years. That was the warning from James McQuivey, a keynote speaker at this year's E2 Conference in Boston.
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McQuivey, vice president and principal analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc., specializes in tracking and defining the power and impact of digital disruption on traditional businesses. "Lots of companies are in for a rude awakening," he said. Billed as a "fireside chat" with Rob Preston, vice president and editor in chief at InformationWeek, McQuivey's observations on just how disruptive these disruptive innovation trends will be stirred up quite a bit of discussion in the Twitter-sphere:
Digital "disruption" is in many ways a misnomer - it can be a good thing! It's only a bad thing for those who ignore it. #e2conf— JCS Consulting (@JCS_Social) June 18, 2013
'if you sit and watch a disruption go by, it will wipe you out' - James McQuivey (Forrester) #e2conf— Dinesh Shah (@dineshshah) June 18, 2013
Digital disruption isn't a new concept for most enterprise organizations, so why was it the main focus of this fireside chat? Some E2 Conference-goers took to Twitter to discuss what makes it different this time around, including intense competition, the torrid pace of innovation and the need to integrate it into the workplace:
Digital disruption means anything can be wrapped in a digital experience - James McQuivey. #e2conf— CMSWire.com (@cmswire) June 18, 2013
Disruption can hurt if you ignore it. If you see it, participate you are better off. Becoming more cost effective, anyone can do it #e2conf— Claire Flanagan (@cflanagan) June 18, 2013
So disruptive innovation is cheap, fast and a bit easier to manage, even for startups now that they have access to crowdfunding tools such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, GoFundMe and more. McQuivey made the rather outrageous suggestion that CIOs might want to post a project on Kickstarter to see what happens. Perhaps that's going too far, but to combat being digitally disrupted, big organizations are going to have to embrace new-fangled tools. Why are some CIOs hesitating?
Fostering cultural change in the enterprise is a difficult task, especially when the technology changes so rapidly. To stay ahead of the curve and ride the wave of disruptive innovation, McQuivey suggested that digital be everyone's job, not just IT's. Nor is the appointment of the executive du jour -- the chief digital officer -- going to bring about that culture change:
"Digital has to be everyone's job" James McQuivey, Forrester and author of Digital Disruption #e2conf— Christian Buckley (@buckleyplanet) June 18, 2013
With all departments focused on the digital, more ideas will be floating around the enterprise. These ideas -- good or bad -- will inspire a culture of innovation. The trick will be to separate the wheat from the chaff and be willing to fail fast, McQuivey said. Another tip? Aim to understand what your customers "need next." Incremental improvements can add up to big breakthroughs:
To read more about what E2 Conference participants had to say about keynotes, head over to Twitter and search the conference hashtag #e2conf. Stay tuned on SearchCIO for more conference coverage.
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