5 Ways Leaders Can Take Charge In An Era of ‘Digital Disruption’

five-1426633_960_720The rapid advancement of technology continues to change the world – and the marketplace – faster than many businesses can keep up, disrupting all their plans and threatening to render them obsolete.

That’s why it may be time for business leaders to take the initiative and start doing a little disrupting of their own, says Dushyant Sukhija, a former executive with Cisco Systems and author of “The Cisco Way: Leadership Lessons Learned from One of the World’s Greatest Technology Services Companies.”

“We’re in an era of ‘digital disruption,’ ” he says. “As leaders, if you don’t transform to master the digital era to disrupt, you’ll get disrupted. And it will be a brutal disruption, where the majority of companies will not exist in a meaningful way 10 to 15 years from now.”

“Digital disruption” is how technology can transform everything about the way businesses are run and interact with customers.

Sukhija says those in leadership positions can guide their organizations through the new digital era by following a simple five-step operational blueprint:

• Build and execute a compelling vision. Focus on developing a vision that is disruptive to your industry and think three to five years out. Engage your customers and partners in the process. Clarify and articulate the value to your stakeholders. Ensure that your entire organization and ecosystem internalizes and drives in formation towards that vision. Build robust execution plans to work towards it, review your performance regularly and make course corrections when needed.
• Adopt a partner-centric model to deliver. Collaboration is core to delivering superior competitive advantage with speed in the new digital world. Pick the right partners to build unique and sustainable value for your customers. Convince them of your vision and strategy. Show them how you innovate and create new markets.
• Reinvent yourself. A nimble organization that can read market transitions and adapt itself to refocus on cheaper and faster ways to deliver new customer value is best suited to lead through the digital disruption. Deploy a governance process to listen, learn, execute, lead and adjust to changing market dynamics and competitiveness.
• Turn people into your secret weapon. Employees are the true intellectual capital of every company and that means businesses must invest in their people to enable them to become the catalysts to help you navigate the digital transformation. Align employees to a common goal and create a nurturing environment. Harness their intellectual horsepower to drive exceptional thought leadership and repeatability of proven leading practices.
• Accelerate the speed of innovation. Innovation is not just about the technology but also about how you organize yourself, how you engage your customers, and how you drive cultural change through your organization. Resource sharing and clustering talent should come into laser-sharp focus to get closer to your customers and streamline your business. Learn from your customers by engaging them in your innovation cycles. Become nimble to react to changing market needs and adapt to them.

“Digital disruption is bound to propel the rise of new companies that master the digital transformation and bring about the demise of those that fail to do so,” Sukhija says. “As a business leader, you can either take the steps to embrace it or risk being left behind.”