Written by Special Contributor Sean Forkan, Vice President and Country Manager, VMware Canada
The age of disruption started a few years ago, and it’s far from over. Industries that have looked the same for decades are being reshaped by unexpected competitors, and with constant digital innovation, it’s not going to stop. Take the hospitality sector, where the business model for hotels hadn’t changed in hundreds and hundreds of years. Then Airbnb arrived offering stays in homes rather than hotel rooms. Now, major global hotel chains are reacting to the popularity of a player they likely never anticipated, rather than leading. No matter what industry you are in, this level of disruption is possible. More than possible – inevitable. And in most cases, technology is what’s levelling the playing field.
Here are some tips to help your business self-disrupt before your competitors do the disrupting for you:
5. Get out of your comfort zone
I’m a creature of habit. We all are to some extent – everyone likes to have a routine, and the rhythm of your day can be thrown off when you face an unexpected interruption. The same is likely true for your organization. If your business model – the formula of your success – has stood the test of time, with that comes a certain comfort. Change is never easy.
Perhaps innovation exists in your business, but if your organization is like most, new thinking is likely to be targeted in a single direction or to focus on delivering incremental improvements to existing market offerings: Get the new customer. Close the new deal. Bring a new product to the market.
If that sounds like your company, it’s time to step out of your comfort zone and ask some hard questions about how your business can serve customers in the future. Ask your teams, your customers and your business partners: What are those big unmet or underserved needs that exist in your market? Can you start delivering your products or services in a completely new way that changes the customer experience – leaps and bounds beyond what your competitors are doing?
4. Rethink who your competitors are
It’s up to your organization to chart its own path. But at the same time, you must be aware of how your competitors are reacting to challenges and trends in the marketplace. Importantly, the competitors you need to watch out for may be different from the established players that have been on your radar over the long term. What are the fast-growth startups that are shaking up your sector? What international players are likely to expand into your market? How is technology making it easier for new or untraditional players to come on to the scene? If you don’t know, now is the time to find out.
3. Strategy comes before solutions
More Canadian businesses than ever before are embracing the power of the cloud, especially now that it’s easier to mix on-premise, private and public cloud environments while keeping data inside of Canadian borders. But in this zeal to introduce new technology, organizations can sometimes skip the strategy step – something that won’t save time or money in the long run.
Decide where your business needs to go in the next 2 to 3 years and then map the technology platforms that will support you in getting there. Look for flexibility so you’re able to react quickly to new technologies as they come up, and take the leap of faith to safely test new solutions – you might uncover the next great thing. But don’t move to the cloud simply because every other business seems to be doing it. Your organization has unique needs, and these should form the cornerstone of your IT strategy, not the latest trends.
Lastly, at regular intervals, take time to reflect as you execute your strategy. Ask yourself and your teams: Are things unfolding as anticipated? How are customers responding? How are competitors responding? Are there assumptions that were foundational in your original strategy? And finally, based on all this input, are there any course corrections we need to make?
2. Digitally transform without delay
Businesses often decide to either expand their use of cloud without stopping to think of the lead-time and expense. An all-in approach using only one type of cloud won’t always help you get there at the speed you require. If you want to start seeing the benefits of digital transformation quickly, try a hybrid cloud approach that leverages the benefits of private and public cloud/multi cloud alongside the on-premise data centre without having to re-architect for each one. For example, VMware Cloud on AWS makes it possible to add capacity to your private data centre with the same management infrastructure, avoiding cloud silos that cost time and money. Globally, we continue to collaborate to add more choice and options for our customers – from Google Cloud VMware Solution by CloudSimple to VMware cloud infrastructure on Microsoft Azure.
1. Put your people first
Putting the right IT strategy in place powered by the right technologies is a good start. But none of this will have any impact unless your people are empowered to help the business shake off the status quo across every facet of its operations. Culturally, your organization needs to live and breathe innovation – it should inform every process your team undertakes. Encourage everyone to operate with a ‘beta’ mentality and support safe testing and learning of new approaches and processes. From an IT point of view, have the right talent in place who can drive the digital transformation agenda – a mix of building and developing, maintaining and a whole lot of vision.
What is your business doing to promote self-disruption? Comment below to share your thoughts.