Is your company a mammal--able to adapt to change--or will you go the way of the dinosaurs? The answer lies in your response to technological change.

Digital disruption is the asteroid of modern enterprise, which happens any time an existing market is shaken up by new technologies. We often think of it in terms of switching from offline to online distribution channels. But digital disruption is more than that: it's about looking at the entire business and asking questions like: Which markets are we serving? What do we offer? Who are our customers and why do they buy from us? Where are the costs in our business that might be susceptible to digital disruption?

Digital disruptors will be those who look at the business problems their enterprises seek to solve, and leverage technology to improve the way it's done. Let's take a look at some of the enterprises that are innovating previously stable traditional industries.

Innovating Logistics with Technology

Shipping and logistics have always been complex industries, but not necessarily ones you'd immediately think of when it comes to digital disruption. Yet, in the last generation, the shipping industry has experienced major transformations from changing regulations to new technologies that can drive more value out of all the people and processes in the supply chain.

This environment has given rise to a new generation of third-party logistics (3PL) firms like Coyote Logistics. Through a cutting-edge proprietary technology platform, Coyote created an efficient digital ecosystem consisting of shippers and carriers to maximize service performance in the logistics industry. Coyote orchestrates this ecosystem to drive more value from customer supply chains with technology that supports supply chain planning, execution and settlement services, and capacity sourcing and management. Coyote's employees can work faster while making more informed decisions based on the data captured in the technology platform.

"Today it's not only about capturing vast amounts of data, but it's also about enabling our employees to quickly find and use the right information to provide useful insights to our customers and help them be more successful and efficient in their supply chain operations," said Jodi Navta, Coyote CMO. "We are hyper-focused on harnessing the power of our technology and making our data actionable by those who will benefit most." Coyote is essentially offering "Shipping as a Service," and it is transforming the shipping industry just as the cloud has rocked the world of traditional software manufacturing.

Innovating Employee Communications

Communicating employee benefits might not seem like a business that was in dire need of digital disruption, yet here too, technology is shaking up a once-staid and conservative business. Chicago-based Jellyvision is at the forefront of innovation in employee communications with its ALEX employee communication platform.

When employees have questions about confusing topics like health care and benefits, disability claims, IRS forms, or financial planning, Jellyvision's ALEX walks them through the process and eliminates confusion. "I think the reason employees respond so well to our ALEX conversations is that it's a technology experience that feels surprisingly human," says Jellyvision CEO, Amanda Lannert. "Intellectually, you know you're interacting with carefully-crafted software made up of thousands of sound files and animations, but you feel like you're having an actual conversation with a friendly, funny expert who cares about your well-being. It's that personal touch that makes all the difference."

Innovating the Tech Space

Even companies in industries already considered innovative are benefiting from digital disruption. In response to changes in the tech industry, Accenture and Microsoft came together in the early 2000s to form Avanade. The company plays a major role in the development and adoption of the Microsoft cloud, helping enterprise customers adapt to these changes while remaining agile and flexible.

The trap many traditional industries fall into is thinking that digital disruption won't happen to them rather than embracing the inevitable and learning the benefit of disruption. The question for most enterprises is, what types of disruption are you most likely to see, and how will it impact your business? While the answers to these questions may be difficult to predict, you can anticipate your company's response to it by thinking like a disruptor.

Recent global research by Avanade show that smart technologies in corporates are truly disrupting the workplace. The study provides insights on how companies can adapt to leverage these changes, increase revenues and productivity. However with these technology disruptors, companies need to think about the ethical challenges and questions that digital technologies bring to the fore. Commenting on this issue, Mick Slattery, Avanade North America President, said "Smart tech enables organizations to collect, store and analyze unprecedented amounts of customer and employee data--yet companies have an obligation to use that data responsibly and judiciously. It is no longer enough to meet basic compliance and security requirements; companies must proactively develop a digital ethics framework that clearly communicates to their customers, prospects and employees how they will manage and safeguard these vast amounts of data."

By viewing technological change and the challenges it brings not as a threat to your business, but as an opportunity to serve your customers better, companies can remain agile in the face of change and be able to survive--even thrive--while others go extinct.

Published on: Jun 13, 2016