When you consider how much new technology has come into your life in the last five years, it's mind-boggling. When I look around our company, this is what I see: Consultants are dictating their emails into a phone while walking through the airport, then with two touches of the phone screen, turning that same phone upside down to scan their airline ticket at security. We just implemented a video conferencing system that can interface with any other on the face of the planet. And we're a small firm. With a few exceptions, people's desks are pretty clean - because so much information is digital. Our president has given up his paper calendar system for a digital one. That's a revolution. That server in our closet? I understand everything will soon be in the cloud, and that piece of equipment will go to the Smithsonian, along with manual typewriters. Our kids' kids will ask, "Dad, what's a fax?"
All that is amazing, however, it doesn't begin to explain the real advantage of the fast-pace of innovation in technology. It's all around us - but I didn't really understand it until I read a new book called Digital Disruption, by James McQuivey of Forrester Research. The digital revolution has the potential to provide your business with a tremendous competitive advantage at a cost of almost nothing.
As a small example, we now create digital personal libraries of videos, white papers, tools, and coaching materials for our coaching clients, through a secure platform that costs little. The best part is - someone else invented it. We couldn't have imagined it ourselves, let alone created it. But we found a need. This is precisely the revolution that McQuivey is speaking about. "Digital disruption is finding a better way to meet a fundamental need that the customer has, not just replacing an existing process or making it better," says McQuivey. And what will strike you if you read this book is how it used to cost a fortune to innovate. Now, it's much cheaper. If you have a "disruptor's mindset," that is.
By the way, this isn't a book for technology geeks. It's for CEOs. Think of it this way. 12-year-olds are inventing new Apps using nothing more than an online toolkit and some imagination. Small bands of researchers are starting pharmaceutical companies without walls, developing new drugs without all the costs of red tape. It's happening all around us, and it could happen to us, if we don't understand the digital revolution and beat our competitors to it.
I picked up the book because I'm going to be keynoting at the CIO 100 Symposium & Awards Ceremony, where McQuivey is also speaking this summer. By the time I put it down, I was convinced that his take on innovation will be the second wave of what Clay Christensen started with his book, The Innovator's Dilemma, in the 1990s.