Shake up your business in a digital world

by Foolproof

I’m currently reading 'Creative Disruption’ by Simon Waldman. It’s billed as holding the key to what readers ‘need to do to shake up your business in a digital world’.

The author, Waldman, has spent 14 years at Guardian Media Group working his way through the ranks to Director of Digital Strategy and Development for the online version of the publication. It’s an interesting overview of the ever-changing digital world that I have been a part of for the last decade and where he feels the key lessons are that should provide insights into future direction for organisations.

Waldman feels established brands and businesses should succeed in our evolving, digitally connected world, but they have to move quickly and smartly. There is great risk from new entrants to the market, but it is rare that these ‘players’ work well (other than the obvious examples of Google, Amazon etc) and that it’s organisations that hold the benefit of brand and customer loyalty that should elevate this connected opportunity to succeed or reinvent themselves (e.g. Kodak, Apple).

Waldman talks about a ‘new physics of business’ – changing the rules of who can compete with whom, where and how. There is a really interesting quote in the book that talks about how the internet “upsets all conditions of location, all cost calculations, all production functions within its radius of influence; and hardly any ways of doing things which have been optimal before remain so afterwards”. Most interestingly, this quote was actually written about the arrival of the railways in 1936! It certainly made me think.

The author concludes by reflecting on the unprecedented rate of change over the last 15 years that the internet has brought with it – it’s amazing to think that in 2004 we didn’t have Twitter, YouTube and iPlayer. We’d only just started using Facebook and we wouldn’t have known what a Kindle was! Waldman makes the point, that given the advent and acceptance of online dating – if we are happy to choose a partner online, there really can’t be many things that people won’t use digital channels for. It’s a fair point.

However, I feel that the book only lightly touches on what is key to me and those of us within the UX industry – that change should always be driven by user needs and insights. It’s an exciting era whereby technology allows and enables us to do many things in ways that we never dreamt possible before – but that itself can cause risk and cause companies to develop technology for technologies sake rather than focus on a design strategy with users at its core.

What do you think?