Archive | C-Suite

Don’t become the disrupted

idgdisruptedThe Oxford Dictionary defines the word ‘disruption’ as a disturbance, or problems that interrupt an event, activity or process. In modern terms, it’s defined more simply as the change that occurs when new digital technologies and business models affect the value proposition of existing goods and services.

The truth is that its mere definition can strike fear and elation into senior executives, depending on which end of the disruption stick they are holding, and break the most confident and entrenched market leaders.

It’s not about being trendy or cool, as these monikers only last for a finite period, but if a new technology or disruptive service hits the market and ticks the boxes of both practicality and price, even the most trusted brands will suffer and their market share ebb away accordingly.

It’s up to organisations to stay sharp and continue to innovate their own products and services, while all the time monitoring emerging technologies to not take their eye off the ball.

Even when taking this in to account, one of the biggest barriers I have seen within large organisations is that even once an external disruptive influence has been identified and a solution defined, time isn’t given to the person or team to implement it properly to stave off the competition.
If you don’t allocate time to these types of employees for such activities, they will quickly migrate to organisations that do or even start their own to compete with you.

The oft-mentioned words of, “it will never catch on” or “we’ve got plenty of time before it claims any serious market share” are immortalised around some of the objects such as the internet and Apple’s iPhone, which we use so readily today. Those now extinct organisations who failed to catch on quickly enough are now only remembered for these ill-timed statements, and the quality of how not to do it case studies at leading business schools.

Companies like Netflix, which owns a large proportion of the streaming market, are savvy enough to know that having initially been key disruptors of their own market, they must constantly innovate and develop new services to maintain, let alone grow, their market position.

Almost all industries are now ripe for disruption, with the position of market leader now somewhat meaningless with the fluidity and emergence of new technology happening almost daily. Even regulated markets such as insurance and financial services are being disrupted, with smaller more agile startups providing meaningful and innovative disruption.

In the current era where the world’s largest taxi firm, Uber, owns no cars, the world’s largest accommodation company, Airbnb, owns no accommodation, and the world’s most valuable retailer, Alibaba, carries no stock, you could say that the commercial vista is unrecognisable from only a few years ago.

We are in a fascinating time where the boundless leaps technology is making, and the complex products and solutions it now allows us to create, are infinite. Far beyond what we could have imagined.

Key to all of this is the rise of consumerisation and the thirst for digital services that make once awkward activities, such as banking and shopping, all capable of being completed without ever leaving your house.

It’s up to organisations to keep pace with these disruptors and emerging technologies, and adapt their products and services accordingly to meet the changing demands and needs of their customers. Those that don’t will be consigned to the past and rightly disrupted by those that can!

This post has also been featured on the HP Business Value Exchange here 

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The Innovation Dilemma

idginovdilIn todays commercial arena, innovation is critical to grow and position your company as a leader within its market(s), and position it above its competition but many don’t know where to begin nor how to foster and drive it within their organisation.

At a recent roundtable I ran, we discussed innovation and its use as a driving force for revenue growth. The roundtable attendees were IT leaders from a number of large enterprise organisations and hailed from all over Europe ready for an engaging discussion (no pressure!).
We started the discussion by going around the room asking everyone what the barriers to innovation were in their organisations.
There were a number of recurring points which weren’t surprising, such as who should own innovation across the organisation, and how do they foster and engage innovation within their organisations and prioritise the elements of it accordingly.

What did surprise me however were comments such as “what exactly is innovation?” and “is delivering new products, ideas or services that improve revenue just me doing my job well?”
I hadn’t expected to hear this but it really made sense and drove our discussion on to how do you measure innovation against doing your job well – not an easy task but if you are set an innovation target within your organisation be it revenue or service focused its a crucial one you will need to resolve.

This really highlighted to me that though every organisation is trying their damnedest to deliver innovation, what they are really struggling with is how to foster, engage with and measure it accordingly in relation to it adding tangible value.
How do you truly measure innovation? Is it through your product creation team delivering the right products to the right markets and capturing critical commercial momentum or simply altering an online process to make it easier for clients to register themselves?

The truth is that in any organisation where free thinking and entrepreneurial activity is encouraged, not stifled and is coupled with hard-working smart employees, you are going to get innovation.
You are also going to create a great working environment which will attract more smart, hard-working people who can create better products and services which create additional revenue and clear competitive advantage – what’s not to like!
Many of you will be thinking this is a brave commercial stance but you cannot argue with the results of those that do change their business strategy and working models like this. It may be hard work and anathema to some but the changing of the guard with relation to that of the traditional executive way of thinking is underway as millennial ideologies and commercial practices seep further into enterprise organisations as they rise up the executive ladder.

There are many ways in which larger organisations are trying to increase their rate of innovation such as creating innovation labs and associated teams to partner with start-up incubators like MassChallenge who do a fantastic job in this space and are non-profit.
JLAB at John Lewis is an excellent example of one such innovation hub where they are encouraging start-ups to come to them and compete to win unique access to John Lewis who will help them refine their products and their business models with the final prize being the opportunity of securing a contract with them.
Others such as UBS who are looking at new technologies which will disrupt their industry such as Blockchain and have set up labs and an open competition for entrepreneurs and technology startups around the world to compete for funding. These are fabulous opportunities for new and established start-ups to work with established corporates and really fosters the growth of innovation and entrepreneurship in our society and I am very much in favour of these efforts.

In today’s world where technology enables us to achieve so much of what we only dreamed possible a few years ago and most people now so attuned to it there really is no argument for not enabling and fostering innovation within your organisation. You now have to concentrate on changing your culture to incorporate, foster and grow innovation within your organisation. It will be hard work, but boy will it pay you back, and it might just be the best thing you’ve ever done.

 

This post has also been featured on the HP Business Value Exchange here 

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Cyber Security – Don’t Be Tomorrows Front Page News

idgcybersecIt’s all too easy to relax your stance on combatting cyber security but in truth every organisation is at risk.  Larger attacks are front page news for the media but small and medium-sized businesses are prime targets.

A PWC survey found that companies with revenues under £50m actually cut security spending by 20% in 2014, compared to a 5% increase in security investments by larger companies – making smaller organisations an attractive prospect for hackers.  It may just be a case of haggling with suppliers to save the difference in costs or surveying the market for a better and more secure solution at a lower cost but you cannot lower your vigilance.

With the spate of recent high-profile security breaches, it seems all to easy to gain access to the most seemingly secure organisations whom we entrust with our most personal data. Unfortunately, it’s not until an organisation suffers a serious breach do we find out about how lax and un-regimented their security protocols were such as storing our passwords and data in unencrypted files or as clear text.
How many other well-known organisations are still doing this with our data and hoping every day that they are not the next name in the media gaze after having suffered a major breach. With organised crime now clearly targeting cyber crime as a substantial revenue stream, the number and complexity of breaches is and will continue to rapidly escalate.

The cost of a serious breach can be financially severe but more importantly can be catastrophic to your commercial reputation with many organisations failing to ever recover, often with further reputational damage inflicted through poor handling of the aftermath. I’m a great believer in all boards having a technology subcommittee to question and guide on technology issues as all boards have audit, remuneration etc. committees.

To prevent your organisation being susceptible to cyber security you must institutionalise your vigilance and make certain that your policies are well documented and clearly understood by everyone from the mail room to the boardroom (security should already be high up on your boards agenda).
It is imperative that everyone feels a sense of responsibility, is motivated to adhere to your policies and able to accept responsibility on an individual level.
It also means tightly integrating security in to your corporate strategy rather than trying to shoehorn it in at a later stage where it may be compromised or not fully engaged.

Simple things like passwords are still one of the easiest measures to tighten up as they have long been a thorn in the side of any organisation with many using seemingly simple to crack, often generic passwords across multiple services.
Going forward biometrics may resolve a large proportion of password issues and the cost of implementation will fall over time. Biometrics are seen as the next evolutionary stage of managing personal security with sectors like banking currently looking to implement fingerprint technology in to your future debit and credit cards to add an additional layer of purposeful security.

The truth is that many companies may not even know they have been hacked or their security probed until a ‘back door’ is found and exploited well after the attack(s) have taken place.  This is a scary scenario and one that shows serious lapses in security practices which are ripe for exploitation by those so inclined.

So to reiterate, make sure your security practices and policies are well documented and clearly understood with everyone motivated and as vigilant as possible to ensure they are adhered to at all times.
After all, you don’t want to be tomorrows front page news!

This post has also been featured on the HP Business Value Exchange here 

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