How to Champion Technology Disruptions in Your Organization? - 2

POSTED BY : Principal Architect - MS Azure CoE
Friday, April 8, 2016

How to Champion Technology Disruptions in Your Organization?

In part 1 of the blog “How to champion technology disruption in your organization,’ I discussed what disruption really means and how disruption brings customers closer to the solution. Let’s take a look now at how to successfully identify and implement disruptive innovation within your organization.

These tweets from Marc Andreessen, the well-known American entrepreneur, investor and software engineer, adequately summarize some of the finest aspects of disruption. You might wonder if this scale of disruption is possible within an enterprise oriented in a certain direction with a preset vision. The answer is yes, but the degree of tolerance to disruption varies from one organization to another.

Take the case of Apple; it was bold enough to introduce a new product line i.e. iPad Mini that rivalled their very successful iPad business.  Whereas, consider Microsoft from a decade ago, it was incredibly hard to have any idea that was not centered around Windows to see the light of the day. 

What can we learn from these two different cases?

Identify the type of innovation that will work for you based on your operating and business model

In any organization, there is a business model that determines/defines the value chain and the alliances; and there are operating models that define interactions between employees, partners or customers. The aggregate effect of the operating models fuels the business model. Take the example of Microsoft.  Their business model has historically relied on licensing and the partner ecosystem while Google's business model is to give the software away for free, and in turn, generate revenue out of user data by being an economic matchmaker between potential customers and advertisers. 

While the business model sets the tone for the overall business philosophy or culture of the company, the operating model is about how a certain function is being performed. In the past, in the banking industry, for any transaction to be performed you had to walk into a bank, which later changed to ATMs, and now, it's available through mobile banking. Or, the ability of customer service to interact with customers via social media vs the conventional call the contact center" approach is a change in the operating model. 

The reason for touching upon the difference between the operating model and the business model is to identify what kind of innovation would suit your enterprise, industry or organization. And also, to identify the ease with which you can apply disruptive innovation in these categories.

Lessons from Microsoft

Consider the case of cloud strategies of Google and Microsoft. Google with their business model of leveraging the internet has a low cost of customer acquisition and shorter sales pipelines. When cloud adoption became the norm for mid-sized businesses and startups, it might have appeared that Google would have an early mover advantage in cloud as compared to Microsoft. Does this mean that Microsoft should have tried and mimicked a similar sales model? No, even though in the short-term it might be tempting to mimic the business model of a competitor.

Instead, Microsoft continued to invest in their existing partner ecosystem with hundreds of thousands of partners. The ability to mobilize this ecosystem gives the ability to leverage a gazillion enterprise partnerships and relationships. The moral of the story is Microsoft did not change the business model in the face of adversary action. Instead, it tweaked the operating model by changing the manner in which the partner ecosystem is incentivized in the cloud world. The partners who were more of deployment partners turned into sales partners which shortened sales pipelines when combined with the power of cloud; read Office 365. 

Consider the above examples and categorize what type of disruptive innovation you're trying to bring about in your organization. Does it call for a change in the business model or the operating model? The resistance will be extremely heavy and the parameters involved will be a lot more than you can see or imagine. However, a change in operating model or spawning a new operating model will be relatively easier than changing the business model. If you're an organization selling on premises telephony software and if you set out on a journey to make a cloud based version of it; you'll find lesser resistance than if you were to attempt a business model disruption and you'll also find a lot of reusable resources within the organization. 

Create a tribe of supporters to help your idea succeed

In either of these categories, realize that there will be people who are thrilled with your idea as well as those that are not and even horrified we’re at a juncture where disruptions are mostly led by social, mobile, analytics and cloud. This enables you to execute faster than before with minimum resources. In most organizations, this would lead some careers to flourish while some others fade. 

Know that all this is too much work to do single handedly. Look for your allies, mentors and friends. In the midst of uncertainty and resistance to a new initiative, these are the people who will form your tribe to maintain the upbeat attitude, mojo and momentum. In the decision making chain these days, no single individual makes a major decision; it is a collaborative effort. Having critical mass rallying behind your idea is extremely valuable in such settings. So build your tribe, see the best in people, and evoke the best in people. Stories of rugged individualism are rare even in the movies. Or in real life. Rocky needed Mickey and Paulie, and Maverick needed Goose. Busquets and Puyol make Messi, and Ronaldo needs Alonso and Ramos.

Share your thoughts and this article with your tribe.

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Vishnu Rajkumar
Principal Architect - MS Azure CoE