Solving the transformation equation


Scott Anthony, Managing Partner at Innosight can clearly remember one of the first really momentous media disruptions.

In 1994, a news team broke with protocol (and the nightly news) to cover the OJ Simpson police car chase, as proceedings unfolded.

What was particularly unique about this decision, was that in the national or global scheme of things, the car chase wasn’t particularly significant, or important. Yet it was a watershed moment in how the reporting of the news was to be transformed, and indeed the very definition of news itself.

Over the course of the following 20 years, Anthony witnessed how the disruption of  many industries from the Netscape browser completely changing the way newspapers were read, eviscerating 57 years of growth in 3 years, to Apple rendering Nokia functionally worthless in just 6 short years.

From these changes Anthony says that that the two biggest mistakes companies make in face of disruption is to: 

  • underestimate the impact of the change

and more importantly:

  • fail to adapt their business to the change

And as the rate of technology isn’t going to ease up, businesses have to square their shoulders and acknowledge, Game of Thrones style, that disruption is coming.

The question that businesses need to ask themselves is:

So what can they do in the face of all these changes?

Anthony asserts that innovation isn’t an elusive concept, rather a discipline that anyone can master with practice; the key is to ascertain the problem the customer has.

Once you’ve figured that out, then you can: 

  • Find the person who has already solved it (and this ‘person’ doesn’t have to necessarily be in your industry, or even a person!) 
  • Test, test test and learn effectively as you can

Most businesses assume that the transformation process will be cosmetic (for example, email to fax), but businesses need to be thinking a lot more broadly about how they can take advantage of the disruptive force, or taking what they currently have and expanding it in new ways, such as the case of Netflix or Amazon.

Most people fear disruption and the risks inherent in it, but Anthony sees it as the greatest opportunity in businesses today and he uses the famous quote in Shawshank Redemption to describe what businesses must do in order to thrive: get busy living or get busy dying.

CeBIT Australia SME Summary Report