Disruption or just a Thing

Last week I had the chance to attend the #NextAct2020. In one of the sessions I followed a very interesting talk. The whole topic was about disruption. In detail, they talked about taking a bold step and spinning a part of the company off, to give it a chance to build its own brand and identity. Despite all the cool and fancy ideas, it was still the same business model and even more import in the core the same product. Product in this particular case means it was not a software or service product, it was a physical thing. Something like a car.
Now the idea is about having it in different colors and flavors and everything you can imagine.
After a while, it came to the „killer“ question.

Is this disruptive?

Interestingly the following discussion was about business models, process optimization and innovation.
I still listend the very intense discussion and it became more and more clear the audience or at the least the ones speaking up didn’t see it as a disruptive act. For the presenter as such it somehow felt, because it was a very bold move and it goes a long with a high risk.
I still suffered from a cold and didn’t engage in the discussion, but since then I’m thinking about „Disruption“ in a not software driven context, what it is, how it feels and what it is not.
I share the view of the majority of the audience, the presented concept was not disruptive but efficiency innovation. The reasoning I see quite different. I’m not just missing the disruptive business model. From my point of view, it is still about the same thing and the product, in this case, is physical, so it must be an evolutionary step.
Let me explain with my own words why I’m seeing it that way and what disruption really means.
Talking about a physical product of any kind and making it more personalized, cheaper, easier to get, more efficient or sustainable, is always something you can foresee. It’s a matter of time, money and tech. At the sweet spot of these three aspects you can enter the next evolutionary step of your product. If you get it right, do the necessary go to market and sell it, you’re certainly at the edge and you’ll deserve the opportunity to take advantage of it – outperform you competition.
I tend to say that in these cases your competitors are well known. There’s very little chance that there’s someone new to the game, doing that.
So let me make a statement, disruption these days isn’t about physical things.

There is no disruption without any kind of software.

15 years back, this may sound like a bold statement but these days it isn’t. It’s hardly to imagine to create any kind of product without at least a relevant part of software in future, despite consumer goods.
Disruption means to revolutionize something in a way others wouldn’t expect it and generating new value with the potential of an exponential growth curve. Sometimes it’s a completely new market.
Take the meanwhile well known example of the iPod revolution. What’s mostly missed, is that the iPod without iTunes would not have the power to disrupt the entire music industry. It would have been an evolutionary step, like going from LPs and cassettes to CDs. The fact that we now could buy and organize our music in iTunes and then having an individualized playlist in our pockets made the difference. It was a completely new customer experience.
Let’s have look at a more technical example. When a new generation of processor, memory and server tech became available, we could have built faster datacenter and optimize what we had. Now putting a new software layer above the tech let to the rise of cloud software, since then heavily disrupting existing business models and onPremise software products.
Let’s say innovation without a software component is never disruptive. But does that mean? Does innovation always need to be disruptive? I don’t think so. But be aware and watch out for new potentials that you could use in a disruptive scenario, because if you don’t there will be someone who does. If that happens you’re in trouble, because along with disruption comes a better, often cheaper product and even more important a new customer experience often leading to an exponential growth curve. To catch up in such a case will be at least very tough if not impossible because of the gained momentum from your „new“ competitor.
It gets even more interesting by digging deeper in the topic and the connected challenges, that come along with the digital transformation.
What’s your strategy? Do you playing defense or offense?
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Digital Strategy, KPIs and the Art of Winning Big Time

In the past, business goals and KPIs set the direction to go for an enterprise.
Today the whole world seems to discuss about digital transformation in the one or the other way. First of all I want you to get clarity on your thoughts.  Is it really disruptive or is it evolutional?
It disrupts you, if you miss to adapt, because you will be replaced by someone who knows better how to engage with your customers. Todays game is about adaptability, speed and customer experience.
In the tech industry SaaS changed more than the delivery model it transformed the sales funnel completely. It has never been faster and easier to adapt new solutions into your business environment, than today. It’s literally just a few clicks to start your new HR solution.
The need to buy additional hardware, train your IT people or even building up a new team for a specific solution is a thing of the past. SaaS gives you the possibility to start small, test new processes or solutions by minimizing your financial risk when it doesn’t fit your expectations. Therefore it all starts with education on what’s possible, what’s available and the future potential of a solution. That phase is typically supplier agnostic, as it is more about your market needs and the corresponding tech potential. As this phase requires quite some time, the actual decision for a supplier can be taken much quicker, because the risk of being wrong can be corrected with a much lower financial impact than in the past. That’s also the reason why the preferred way to go today is, start small and scale rapidly.
The big bang go lives of solutions with multi years of implementation efforts are not able to serve the demand of todays customers. Running multi year implementation projects just puts you on risk, that the market evolves faster than your solution. If you can’t serve your customers as well as your competitors you’ll be out of the game soon.
Let’s have a look at the marketing industry. In a very interesting post from Simon Chan – The Global Marketing Crisis of 2017. He points out that marketing is going trough a massive change and not everyone will get it right. Not surprisingly he brings it all back to the need of a new engagement model.
Todays technology provides us with new optimization potential and the chance to rethink business processes or even business models. Most often it’s still a very tech savvy discussion and the opportunities about a stronger customer centricity and a more human touch are missed.
That hasn’t just started, but it reached a tipping point as today more and more people are using social media and social influencers seem to become a new species eating the marketing market. Check out this post from Brian Solis
and get some more insides. I also recommend to read this post from Aaron Orendorff to get even more insides.
Now companies talk about digital strategies and if you want to be in the game you need to have one. As the content often makes sense and seems to be logical it often comes back to new technologies, how to implement them and the new service or product offering. In some really rar cases it’s about a business model that will be created to safeguard the market position or increase market share.
Now it comes to executing the strategy. That’s easy! Right? You have done it multiple times in the past. Your organization, your people know how to execute a strategy. You define the right parameters and KPIs, put a proper controlling in place, define and priorities the actions to reach the KPIs and voila, you’re done! Undisputed market leader!
I’m convinced, doing it that way, you ‚ll risk to loose it all. It’s not just the game that changed, the rules changed as well. It’s no more about setting the budget, giving the direction and go.
It’s about identifying your target group first, it’s about engaging with them via the new social channels, collaboratively discovering the new, the most valuable, the next big topic. It’s about identifying a common relevance and a proper understanding of the others strength. Building trust and gain a common understanding how to play to each others strength. It’s about long lasting relationships, build on a common understanding of the opportunities provided by new technologies and a joint plan to go side by side and get the most out of it and thereby reaching the business goals. It’s about survival in the first place and about sustainable growth in the mid and long run.
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AI (Artificial Intelligence): Will it eat the world we know?

AI doomsday
Are you a doomsdayer or an utopian? Do you think AI will kill us all or fix it all?
We are literally destroying the earth that feeds us – hard to believe that we are the most advanced intelligence. The question is more about the kind of intelligence that we think we are the strongest. Is it knowledge, social or emotional?
In the past few months I followed quite a few discussions about intelligence. It was talked about intelligent people as young talents, about intelligent processes and ending with the intelligent enterprise. By listening carefully you will recognize that most of the time there is no clear definition in place about what intelligence in the context it is discussed means.
So before we start discussing the good and bad of the rise of Artificial intelligence and how it will impact the world, keep in mind there are different forms of intelligence. I leave it to you to think about these forms and to discuss it with your friends.
By reading the news about AI, I certainly get the impression, that it is either black or white, the greatest or the worst. But there’s one treat, the bad is so much better to sell. It’s so much easier to get your attention by focusing on the negative impacts it could have. Nowadays we’re more or less conditioned by the news to spend our attention on all the bad things happening on our globe. But do you buy it? Do you believe that there’s nothing good happening out there?
At least when it comes to AI discussions, I see most of the time two parties. The ones that believe it will kill us all and the others that see the potential to fix it all. How do you see it?
What is your picture in mind when you think about AI? Is it more human looking or is it more integrated in your live by machines interacting with you?
Star Trek shows us, how a peaceful living with AI can look like.
But thinking about AI, like building a better us, is more like ExMachina and certainly needs some mind shifting.
So it highly depends on the human factor how AI will evolve and how it will impact the world. So one more time in our history it’s up to us. You can see a few quite popular inventions in humans history that carried a lot of potential for the better but could and has been used for some really awful things as well.
As you can’t force invention you also can’t avoid it. As long there are humans, invention is going its way. So the big question is, how do we deal with it.
We’re living in an age that is dominated by more disruptive innovation than ever before. We need to learn how to handle innovation and ensure that we can use it to make the world a better place. Damn we have to use it to fight poverty, hunger and save our environment. We can’t continue as there’s unlimited resource for the developed countries and forget about everything else.
It’s time to have an open discussion around the globe about how to ensure that innovations and the related potential is used for the better and how we can avoid or at least limit the downside.
I‘m not sure if regulations are the right handle but we need something that serves as a frame and gives some ethical and moral boundaries.
We‘ll need some controls that prevents misuse of this technology.
As long as that’s not in place enterprises need to step in and create a kind of safeguarding mechanism.
One more point is, that a very privileged few are building an AI that will first impact a lower social stand.
The question is how to get all ethics, different cultures on all levels involved.
So we just need a true global collaboration project without the governmental politics. That shouldn’t be that hard.
Would love to hear your thoughts. Are we going for doomsday or utopia?
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Let’s play with some thoughts on digital disruption, new leadership styles and startup culture.

This blog provides you a view on these topics and answers the following questions.

  • What do these topics have in common?
  • Are they somehow connected to each other?
  • At its core it’s about motivation, happiness and success, isn’t it?
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