Digital disruption isn’t a new concept and many businesses have been grappling with a disrupted industry for some time. For example, as technology made it possible for knowledge workers to be productive from anywhere, businesses could suddenly hire from a much broader talent pool rather than be restricted to hiring people in their local area.

Businesses that make it easy for their customers to interact with them, whether through e-commerce capabilities or just by offering multiple channels, can compete far more effectively than businesses that simply offer bricks-and-mortar stores.

And whole new marketplaces have opened up for firms that use technology platforms to connect buyers and sellers. These digital disrupters have changed the business landscape and companies in all industries need to embrace digital technology at the heart of their businesses or risk being unable to compete effectively in the long-term.

In the face of this changing landscape, most corporate leaders know they need to accept technology as a core part of doing business. What they don’t necessarily know is what technology to use for what purposes, and what benefits to expect.

Using a managed services provider can help organisations to effectively combine new technology with existing infrastructure and bypass disrupters in the market. There are five key steps to navigating digital disruption. Businesses that are serious about riding the wave of disruption and emerging with a sustainably successful business on the other side should consider each of these steps in turn to maximise their chances of success.

5 key steps to navigate digital disruption

  1. Consider the overall business strategy

    ‘Digital’ can’t stand alone, separate from the overarching business strategy; instead, it should become an integral part of the strategy. The entire executive team must align and agree on the right approach to digital business, not leave decisions to the IT manager or CIO.

  2. Put the customer at the centre

    Digital disrupters that are successful have many things in common, and customer-centricity is key. Engaging with customers on their terms is crucial, particularly in an era characterised by increasing use of social media and a marketplace where individualisation is considered the norm.

    Businesses therefore need to know their customers, understand their needs and expectations, and demonstrate they value their customers. This includes understanding where customers can be reached most effectively and using that knowledge to gain competitive advantage.

  3. Implement reliable infrastructure

    Businesses embracing a new, digital way of doing business must prepare for an inevitable increase in pressure on existing systems. In many cases, those existing systems simply won’t be robust or reliable enough to cope with the increased workloads. Companies need to invest in reliable infrastructure that can easily handle this increased reliance on IT both now and as the organisation grows.

  4. Seek advice from a trusted partner that knows the market and the business

    The role of IT in the organisation will only increase in importance. Businesses need to focus on core competencies and innovation rather than on spending time keeping the lights on, so companies should look for a partner they can trust. That partner should lead the company to constantly review its technology needs and look for ways to improve. Partnerships and outsourcing are proving effective ways to achieve this without demanding massive IT budgets.

  5. Fail early and fast

    The risk of doing nothing in this rapidly evolving marketplace is greater than the risk of trying something and failing. As long as the failure doesn’t take too much time and money, it can provide an invaluable learning experience and provide a stepping stone for the organisation to build on.

    Hence the organisation should aim to fail early and fast to learn those lessons before they become expensive. Companies that recognise the potential of experimenting, learning and innovating will be more likely to achieve long-term success.

It’s important to remember that disruptive change doesn’t have to be overwhelming, nor does it have to be a death knell for a business. Leaders can take small steps that will add up to help their company gain a competitive advantage.