Five Ways to Become a Digital Disruptor

By Samuel Greengard

The digital enterprise has arrived. Unfortunately, most organizations have yet to become fully digital. Here are five ways CIOs can create a disruption in the workforce:

Focus on processes over technology. It’s easy to get caught up in today’s whiz-bang technologies and all the amazing capabilities and features they offer. But technologies merely enable digital transformation. It’s how organizations—including CIOs—map everything and connect the dots. The best digital systems create wormholes and shortcuts through workflows.

Reinvent the wheel. The person who said “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” should be sent off to manage yak ranching in Mongolia. The phrase might have been apropos a few centuries ago—or even in the 20th century—but, alas, it’s paramount to constantly reinvent the wheel or risk getting rolled over by the competition. As digital technology transforms entire industries, it’s clear that leaders who don’t rethink and reinvent products, services and interactions are doomed to fail.

Look for ideas everywhere. The arrogance level in many organizations is astounding. Armed with MBAs and decades of experience, business and IT leaders too often confuse new ideas with innovation. Meanwhile, customers and employees on the front lines of the business, who actually understand the real world of touch points and interactions, go ignored. Crowdsourcing, social listening, big data analytics and other tools offer highly efficient ways to glean insights and market intelligence. Ignore them at your own peril.

Ignore vendor hype. Vendors serve a very important purpose: they vend. And once upon a time, in an era of enterprise systems, they provided good insights into running a business better. But, these days, vendors typically provide a too myopic or self-serving point of a view. Getting roped into proprietary systems and tools is dangerous. Translation: make your decisions outside the vendor-sphere and then turn to the appropriate vendors to plug in products and solutions.

Rethink IT skills. It’s now critical to look outside traditional IT channels for IT staffing. There’s a simple reason for this: someone who thinks in an innovative and creative way can learn the ropes of IT. But an IT savant can’t necessarily see beyond the bits and bytes. Today, in order to fully exploit digital disruption, it’s critical to fundamentally understand how big data, social media, mobility and other emerging tools create a competitive advantage.

About the Author

Samuel Greengard is a contributing writer for CIO Insight. To read his previous CIO Insight blog post, “IT Must Weather Climate Change,” click here.

Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard writes about business, technology and other topics. His book, The Internet of Things (MIT Press) was released in the spring of 2015.

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