Digital Disruption, Digital Norms

Published: 16 November 2015

For many digital is a mythical place, a revolution pending, a thing that needs to be done, or something to be feared.  For some it’s all, for others it’s none. But rest assured this blog is not going to be a long discourse on what I believe digital ‘is’ or ‘is not’. Rather, this is a shameless reproduction of someone else’s content! The source of this insight was a smartphone snap of a slide presented by IBM, and shared on LinkedIn*. The slide showed some interesting observations on the digital world, holding up a mirror to the impressive maturity of the global digital economy:

  • The world’s largest taxi company owns no cabs (Uber)
  • The largest accommodation provider owns no real estate (Airbnb)
  • The largest phone companies own no telco infrastructure (Skype, WeChat)
  • The world’s most valuable retailer has no inventory (Alibaba)
  • The world’s most popular media owner creates no content (Facebook)
  • The fastest growing banks have no actual money (SocietyOne)
  • Largest movie house owns no cinemas (Netflix)
  • Largest software vendors don’t write apps (Google & Apple).

(*If only it had been a screen grab from a Google Hangout and we’d have the perfect digital play!)

While these statements might offer healthy food for debate, they plainly show that digital disruption has been ‘done’. Plenty of digital businesses have been successfully delivered and scaled globally. Obviously there remain many disruptions to come, but we are firmly in the territory of enhancing these ‘new’ digital norms.

Amidst all of this, the war for talent rages on. Businesses in the throes of digital transformation want people who think and act differently. Disruptors have their place. But it is those who understand how digital can weave through the fabric of strategy and operations, and relentlessly deliver on that promise, who remain in consistent high demand.

Matt Cockbill is the Managing Partner of the IT, Technology & Digital Leadership Practice at Berwick Partners. 

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