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The Scream, E. Munch

I wanted to depart from just focusing on innovation within this post. It is getting at me. I continue to read similar entreaties, it seems almost daily. Is this a symptom of a current malignancy or something that is going to be part of our future business lives?

We are extorted to disrupt our enterprises before someone else does. The constant threat of both known and unknown competitors could simply attack tomorrow. It is in our ‘complacency’ that we will be reduced down and lose our competitive advantages, even face extinction.

There is so much disruptive power being harnessed that we are all facing an exponentially more complex and challenging environment. Are you buying into this story of doom and fear?

Big Data seems to be threatening everyone in its path

The ramping up of rhetoric around Big Data certainly is fuelling this angst of fear and anxiety. Of course those leading the charge in this are the sellers of services, of equipment that will be required to manage the (massive) inflow of big data. Do they see clear signs of massive change or the dollar and cent signs flashing in their eyes?

Clearly the emergence of Big Data is a phenomenon we can’t ignore. But will it disrupt as much as being talked about, or just simply allow the incumbents in the market place to respond and adjust their businesses to accommodate this? Time has an impact that is immediate, but also it has an influence on our futures.

I think we are caught up in the earlier stages of grappling with what Big Data means. Will we tame it or allow it to be as ‘disruptive’ as being suggested?

The ramping up of consulting opportunity is not helping

One of the big consulting firms writes “winning big by thinking big” and is suggesting larger companies will turn out to be among the biggest beneficiaries of initial big data implementations. Why? In their words, “although big data projects still pose challenges, larger companies appear to bring more to the table.

Maybe one could cynically think, the very money to pay for the services they so clearly need mostly comes from the large companies. Still let’s not drift down that path…yet. I think the word appear is covering the bet. I’m not sold on this. I feel the usurper has the edge over the incumbent.

The same firm offers those call-to-action statements we must all love: “start local, end global”, “big data demands broad learning”, “big data’s disruptive potential”. These might draw me in to read more, but this does set me on edge and I don’t think these emotive statements help. Actually, I’m guilty of this sometimes, so maybe we all have to be on edge, it makes us sit up and focus as others go over the cliff.


Disruption and change towards the individual will increase

I was listening to one of the World Economic Forum’s debates around “digital in context” and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The discussion led off with “watch for market transitions”, “don’t be slow to adopt” and “if you don’t reinvent, you will fail.”

The underlying message was that data has a real currency to all our organizations. They were suggesting 40% of our current enterprises will be gone in 10 years and with the digital revolution there will be a completely different landscape of winners and losers. There will be no hiding place with connected technology.

We will have to manage “increase voice” coming even more from all the different competing social technologies and growing empowerment of the individual, capable of challenging, disputing and disrupting much within our organizations and institutions. Small businesses, who leverage the power of technology, understand its shaping power and will challenge many of the established bigger incumbents, who are slower to adapt and change.

We will increasingly see technology killing off jobs, causing dis-location, forcing many into life-changing choices. We are seeing increasing conflicting and fragmenting positions that are causing growing uncertainty. The “cost to serve” is continuing to be driven down, and data is driving this.

We all need to keep moving

We are all being warned to “keep moving”. I often feel we have become like our forefathers, a nomadic tribe that is both physically being forced to move, to hunt the jobs that allow us to live and to keep applying knowledge found through the internet to survive and thrive.

So it does seem we are in the “disruptive era” but I prefer to think this is more a ‘transformation’ period, often uncomfortable since much of its boundaries and borders are not clear. It is fluid and we need to adapt to this flow until the disruptive events subside into something we have learnt to accommodate and manage. Yes, we are in transition, and it is transforming much of what we know, our technology and all that comes with it.

Yet, we need to equip ourselves to be empowered in this transition, we need to keep constantly engaged and attempt to figure out what’s next or at least go with the flow. We need to keep our focus on outcomes and not get caught up in the inputs or the process.

We need to embrace transition as the future way of living

I do get the sense all this present disruption and its multiple elements do seem life-changing. I am far happier in ‘transition’ than believing I could be ‘disrupted’ at any minute.

My need, and I think yours as well, is to stay alert and be aware. In many of our jobs there is this chance to evolve, or we should move on. I don’t feel we can stand still long enough; we need to chance it far more by taking a number of different risks. I believe we do become far more empowered in any transition if we chose to actually make the change, instead of rejecting it on the premise that there is no need for movement. The earlier comment of “there is no hiding place” seems to fit here. Or are we just one of those lemmings caught up in the moment?

Hunting and gathering has suddenly returned as an increasingly important part of our lives. Nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes follow the animals they hunt. We are perhaps facing the same constant transition, so it is not a disease but a symptom of what is needed in our future lives, at least for the foreseeable future.

I just feel far better ‘in transition’ than being threatened with disruption, don’t you?

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Paul Hobcraft

Paul Hobcraft

Paul Hobcraft researches and works across innovation, looking to develop novel innovation solutions and frameworks where appropriate. He provides possible answers to many issues associated with innov