enterprisenetworkingmag

The Digital Revolution

By Wheeler Coleman, SVP & CIO, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

Wheeler Coleman, SVP & CIO, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

The digital revolution is upon us. Is your business ready?

When I was a kid, I remember fearing a mythical character called the “Wahoo Man.” The adults told us the Wahoo Man lived in the trees, and would swoop down and devour people at night. As funny as it sounds, this fear is what got all the kids home on time because none of us wanted to be left behind.

"There is a growing trend of brand new business models leveraging existing and emerging technologies to disrupt well-established businesses and industries"

Fast-forward several decades and I can’t help but see the parallels between these childhood fears and the digital revolution we find ourselves in today. Technology is growing exponentially, and businesses across all industries need to move fast to avoid being devoured. But there’s nothing mythical about the digital revolution. We are all too familiar with big-name brands that have gone extinct because they were unable to quickly adapt to this era of digital disruption.

A recent KPMG International report describes our current state as being “on the cusp of revolutionary change” coming sooner than we think. A tremendous amount of capital has been invested in technology to change the status quo of businesses.

In their book Digital to the Core (2015), authors Graham Waller and Mark Raskino describe this as a new era of digital business where we see the “blurring [of the] the digital and physical worlds.”

What are you doing to prepare for this dramatic disruption that may devour your business?

There is a growing trend of new business models leveraging technology to disrupt long-standing, established companies and industries. We have seen these new models disrupt the film, taxi and hotel industries dramatically affecting the operations, processes and revenue streams of companies stuck using old business models.

These new business models are so disruptive and wide-sweeping that they outpaced the ability of many governments and municipalities to keep up. Lawsuits are surfacing as a result of established organizations operating under a different set of laws and regulations than these digital disruptors, creating what some call an unfair business advantage.

Welcome to the new digital revolution. Here, competitive advantages, new revenue streams and extreme competition are quickly created in the marketplace. In fact, some companies have to undergo major transformations to their business models to survive at this rapid pace.

To prepare for the digital revolution, existing businesses must do three key things:

1) Reinforce and Refine Existing Operations

The new marketplace requires businesses to be nimble and quick to adapt to change, including an infrastructure to support that demand. Existing IT companies must streamline processes to reduce wasteful, redundant solutions and inefficiencies in core data centers and operations. They must adopt best practices,and prepare to transform existing operations and business.

2) Revitalize and Reinvent Existing Business Models

Now more than ever, IT and business units must work more closely together to reexamine existing business practices. IT professionals need to think outside the box to develop solutions that resultin new products, services and go-to-market strategies. This also requires leveraging emerging technologies like mobile, social networks, cloud computing and the proliferations of new sensors and digital inputs. All existing business models must undergo a dramatic face lift in the digital world.

3) Retool, Retrain and Refresh Talent and Partnerships

The new digital revolution will require existing talent to retool and retrain themselves to develop and support emerging technologies. In some cases, existing IT organizations will have to infuse new talent in critical and strategic roles to prepare for the new business model and marketplace. Very few companies can navigate this change alone. Most companies will have to partner with others to excel and meet the demands of the digital revolution.

The digital revolution is here, and it’s devouring companies and industries. Are you ready to lead change within your business?