Greg Turner takes you through his musing on steam engines and IoT in our ever-disrupted workplace. Join us for episode 1 of the Disruptive Enterprise. Brought to you by Citrix and MTM Technologies.
Before diving into “disruptive technologies,” let me begin by defining what disruptive technology means to me. I like this definition from Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen, who says that, “disruptive technology is one that displaces an established technology and shakes up the industry, or a groundbreaking product that creates a completely new industry.” Today, more and more technology disruptions are occurring, and some businesses are not even aware that they have been disrupted.
Think back to the steam age, when the steam engine was first developed and how it quickly displaced the Yankee clipper ships during the 1800s. That was a disruption. In my recent article “Has Your Business Already Been Disrupted?” I mentioned that one of the most often used examples is the way so many brick-and-mortar retailers were caught off guard by the coming storm of online sales. What went wrong for those retailers was simple – unpreparedness and a lack of plan strategy.
Technology creates disruption and is also the key to avoiding it. If you are building a business of the future, you need to be fully aware of the technological changes in the marketplace and the environment around you. Get ready, have a plan and be prepared to disrupt the disruption with this knowledge. It is essential to know how these may impact your business before they can become mainstream.
So, what types of technology are causing the most disruption? There are several technologies that are disrupting business operations today, customer experience and overall growth. As a disruption service provider, we see a lot of disruptions happening today and are still forthcoming from these top technologies. They are cloud computing, artificial intelligence, IoT – also known as The Internet of Things – and end-user computing.
Here’s why: let’s take a look at cloud computing. Suppose you’re in an executive meeting and the VP of sales cries out, “We need to expand our capacity for order taking, our customers are having trouble getting orders to us.” In the past, IT departments may have needed several weeks to add physical capacity for compute resources and storage to achieve this demand of the VP of sales.
Now, with cloud computing resources and virtualization of applications and systems, the IT department can increase capacity by simply processing more with their cloud service provider. The demand for computing resources can be satisfied in the same day or same hour as the service request that comes in from the VP of sales. This creates tremendous advances for Speed to Market or Market Agility. This disrupts the marketplace almost instantly.
Consider artificial intelligence; a good example is in the home – having a robot handle the vacuuming chores that leads to more relaxed time or more time for other home projects. AI is consistently demonstrating its ability to offload the tedium.
In cybersecurity, machine learning with Predictive Analytics can create a much more secure environment for business than just having highly trained staff monitoring detection reports. AI doesn’t take a break; AI doesn’t get a phone call from the daughter of the trained staff saying she just got into a car accident. AI and machine learning are constantly there, creating consistent, repeatable processes which lead to predictable outcomes without interruption.
Another example is in IoT space or The Internet of Things. Suppose instead of manually reordering supplies when inventories are low, devices responsible for reordering and recording inventories are connected to one another through a secure IoT channel.
Kanban, and lean manufacturing is optimally achieved through IoT, thereby creating cost savings throughout the supply chain. Kanban and lean manufacturing really want to create a just-in-time manufacturing process. Through having devices talking to one another directly, it creates that optimal supply chain. If your supply chain is optimized – too bad for your competitors. The competitors have been disrupted.
And finally, end-user computing – most organizations take this for granted. Most organizations, all they care about is keeping the lights on of their IT operation. But also, most organizations would agree that human resources are the company’s most valuable resource. However, all too often in the name of security or functionality, a company will prevent end-users from being able to do everything they need to do unless they are sitting at their desk in the company office. Creating secure, mobile, full-service workspaces for end users, regardless of location, time of day or device is and continues to be disruptive.
So how does an organization recognize and then cope with technology disruption? At MTM Technologies, we believe there are five simple steps.
First, assess your environment. Understand what your current infrastructure is capable of – what your current IT environment, your current staffing models – how they can support your needs for future projects and to understand how you are being affected by disruption. So, assess your environment.
Second, categorize your priority areas. What makes the most sense? In many organizations, customer-facing solutions are the highest priority.
Third, prepare a checklist of what needs to be done according to what is important, and then what is urgent. Again, maybe taking a look at things of which will achieve the biggest bang for the least amount of investment, maybe taking a look at things with, “Hey, this is a mild investment, but will return quite a bit of savings or profitability or revenue growth.”
Fourth, work with a proven and trusted service advisor who is a subject matter expert. There are many organizations that work within an industry area of expertise like retail, healthcare, financial services, manufacturing. They can also have expertise in various disruptive technologies – Cloud Solutions, IoT, end-user computing, artificial intelligence. Working with an expert that has both the technology that you desire as well as the understanding of your industry market really creates a winning solution.
And fifth, conduct continuous testing, monitoring, and tracking. The great thing about – and especially in the case of a disruptive technology like artificial intelligence – it can continuously learn. Machine learning allows the results to get better over time. And so, always providing that continuous improvement cycle within the solution will achieve more predictive outcomes and even more effective outcomes as time goes on.
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