Feeling overwhelmed by the drastic and widespread amount of change worldwide caused by the COVID-19 crisis? You’re not alone.
Individuals and businesses alike are still getting used to embracing the new, especially when it comes to the digital disruption of the workplace. Although it’s worth noting that digital disruption isn’t a new concept.
Emerging technologies have been influencing and revolutionising our ways of working for a long time now. But what the pandemic has done is shown us that change can be implemented at an accelerated rate when needed.
Having gone through this as a global community, there are many that believe that embracing this new pace of change and embracing new technologies will be what sets businesses apart from their competitors, and what determines their potential for long-term success. As such, embracing change when it comes to technology will be detrimental to survival post crisis.
But fear not!
Despite its rather unsettling name, digital disruption presents us with a positive opportunity to do things in different and potentially more efficient ways. It also reminds us of the urgent need to upskill in new technologies in the digital age. This is even more relevant as we enter the post pandemic era.
What is Digital Disruption?
So, what is digital disruption and what exactly is it ‘disrupting’?
Digital disruption refers to the influence of new digital technologies and business models on existing goods, services, systems, and structures. Of course, this shift is not something that takes place overnight; but it’s fair to say that the impact of digital technologies is increasing exponentially.
A great example of this is the way that streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu have disrupted the media and entertainment industries by changing how content is accessed by customers and monetised by advertisers. These developments have revolutionised the traditional oligopoly of television networks, who previously had total control over broadcasting rights and viewership.
The term ‘digital disruption’ and its negative connotations can make it difficult for businesses to grasp its numerous benefits and opportunities. But ‘disruption’ simply refers to the break from existing or traditional approaches to business; the emergence of better alternatives and opportune changes brought about via new technology.
If you’re still struggling to associate the positives and opportunities that come with digital disruption, think of it as digital
Take, for example, technology giant Apple and the iTunes ecosystem, which revolutionised the way we organise, store and play music. The iPod also played a huge role in the way we listened to music in the early 2000s and left other alternatives in the dust.
Other notable fallouts from inadequately responding to digital disruption include:
– Kodak vs digital photography available on smartphones and photo sharing social media platforms such as Instagram
– Book retailers vs eBook readers such as Kindle
Most recent, and perhaps notable, of these is ride-sharing service Uber compared to the taxi industry. Uber, as with many of the digital innovations mentioned above, is a perfect example of how digital technologies also work to democratise access to goods and services and are challenging the traditional unilinear model of provider → consumer.
What’s definite is that change is constant, and businesses within all industries will need to be open to being flexible if they are to keep operating in the post crisis era.
You may find your business struggles to keep up with best practices and new ways of doing things at first, however, practice makes perfect, so the more your business embraces change, the easier it will get.
What does Digital Disruption mean for your business?
Digital innovation changes the nature of existing jobs, often amplifying and diversifying the scope of tasks and responsibilities, such as problem-solving, multi-tasking, and collaboration. This inevitably increases the range of skills and knowledge expected (if not required) from employees.
To respond to these changes, businesses should firstly evaluate existing roles and ensure that these are all relevant and in line with the direction of the business moving forward. The position descriptions should also be exhaustive and comprehensive for transparency and clarity between employer and employee. Why? Because a business’s structural framework is arguably the first thing to be affected by changing work patterns.
The next step is to focus on the people that inhabit this framework to make it a business. Implementing training or upskilling solutions is a crucial measure to get the most out of your staff. It also sends a positive message on both an internal and external level, demonstrating your brand’s eagerness to evolve and grow and an emphasis on collaborative effort.
Does Digital Disruption only affect some industries?
You might think that the effects of digital technologies are exclusive to IT, Media and Communications industries, as well as heavy machinery- and labour-based industries such as Manufacturing, Construction and Mining. However, if the coronavirus pandemic has shown us anything is that no industry is closed off to digital disruption.
As such, employers and employees should aim to focus on skill sets and qualifications or training sessions that can be applied across multiple industries. This will also help to address the issue of converging sectors and better equip companies to remain ‘future-proof’ down the track.
What does Digital Disruption training involve?
Preparing your business for the future means preparing your team for the future.
Across major industries, this Swinburne Research Report summary identifies a range of key skills to enhance as part of your business’s digital disruption training.
Primary digital skills include:
– Industry programming and software engineering
– Data analytics
– IoT (Internet of Things)
– IT Architecture
Project-based skills include:
– Product management
– Multi-project management
– Supply chain and support services
Soft or personal development skills involve:
It is important to note here the value of both technical and non-technical skills, as being flexible across industries is arguably as desirable as being savvy with technology.
Digital Disruption: friend, not foe
Throughout history, we have seen hesitation and reluctance regarding drastic changes. But how do we react now that change characterises our day-to-day work and life processes?
It goes to show that Digital Disruption is, above all else, a modern reality, even during a crisis.
The primary takeaway here is that shifts in technology, whilst presenting continuous challenges to businesses, offer the chance to actively and critically re-assess how things are done and how things can be done better.