Large firms taking on digital disruptor roles

For years the common wisdom was that small technology start-ups were the nimbler organizations able to adapt and innovate faster that their larger counterparts. However, six new trends are turning the tables on them and enabling many enterprise companies to take on the role of digital disruptors, according to a report from management and technology consulting firm Accenture.

These trends, according to Accenture’s Technology Vision 2014 report, are enabling big companies to pursue digital strategies that take advantage of mobility, analytics and cloud technologies to enhance business processes, leverage real-time intelligence and improve workforce efficiency.

“Digital is rapidly becoming part of the fabric of their operating DNA and they are poised to become the digital power brokers of tomorrow,” said Paul Daugherty, chief technology officer at Accenture, of enterprise organizations that are using digital technologies to transform their culture and the way they do business.

The six trends are:

Digital-physical blur – Wearable devices, smart objects and machines as taking the real world online. This new layer of connected intelligence augments workforce capabilities, automates processes, and incorporates machines into people’s lives. For organizations, getting real-time, relevant data means both machines and employees can act and react faster and more intelligently in virtually any situation.

In healthcare, for example, Koninklijke Philips N.V. is running a pilot Google Glass application that allows physicians wearing the display to simultaneously monitor a patient’s vital signs and react to surgical procedural developments, without needing to turn away from the patient or procedure.

From workforce to crowdsource –Technology now allows organizations to tap into vast pools of resources around the world, just as companies like General Electric (GE), MasterCard Incorporated, and Facebook Inc. do through organizations such as Kaggle Inc., a global network of computer scientists, mathematicians, and data scientists who compete to solve problems ranging from finding the best airline flights to optimizing retail-store locations.

The opportunity is enormous: tapping an immense, agile workforce that is not only well-suited to solving some of today’s toughest business problems, but also, in many cases, is motivated enough to do it for free.

Data supply chain – Currently, just one in five organizations integrates data across the enterprise. To truly unlock data’s potential value, companies must start treating it more as a supply chain, enabling its easy and useful flow through their entire organizations, and eventually throughout their ecosystems, too. Companies such as Google Inc. and Walgreens Co. have adopted this approach by opening up APIs; more than 800,000 websites now use Google Maps data.

Harnessing hyperscale – Advances in areas such as power consumption, processers, solid state memory, and infrastructure architectures are giving enterprises new opportunities to massively scale, increase efficiency, drive down costs, and enable their systems to perform at higher levels than ever before. As companies digitize their businesses, more and more will see hardware as essential to enabling their next wave of growth.

Business of applications – According to Accenture research, 54 per cent of the highest-performing IT teams have already deployed enterprise app stores. This allows the shift towards simple, modular apps for employees. IT leaders and business leaders must establish who plays what role in app development in their new digital organizations, as pressure for change is driven by the business.

Architecting resilience – In the digital era, businesses are expected to support the non-stop demands placed on their processes, services and systems. Companies such as Netflix, Inc., which uses automated testing tools to deliberately attack its systems as a means to increase resiliency, are among today’s IT leaders. These companies ensure that their systems are designed and built for failure, taking advantage of modular technologies and advanced testing processes rather than designing to specifications.

“Last year, we declared that every business is a digital business, whether its leaders acknowledged that or not,” say Daugherty. “Now, we see that digital technologies run through every facet of the highest-performing businesses.”


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Nestor E. Arellano
Nestor E. Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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