Organisations are seeking serious innovation during these economically challenging times. But innovation comes at a cost that can be summed up in one word: disruption. The disordering of existing business models and functions takes time and effort, and has a corresponding cost. No reason not to welcome it!

People are rethinking how they do their jobs and businesses are re-thinking how they operate. They are being forced to re-think basic functions to keep pace with innovative new-starts. In his book No Straight Lines, Alan Moore contends that the rules of work and play that have governed our lives up until now are no longer relevant. Top-down business models are being supplanted with more democratic models, with emphasis on leadership and inspiration rather than on layers of containment. At Kainos we embrace this approach in our software process models, where a lean, agile approach to software development is usually more effective and favourable than a traditional waterfall model. Successful organisations now are those that respond quickest to the changing environment. In essence: those with the greatest agility are experiencing the greatest success.

Engine Yard’s CEO John Dillon describes cloud computing as the most disruptive technology since the advent of the PC. It’s difficult to disagree with this when one lists cloud benefits: increased agility, increased innovation and instant access to virtually unlimited resources. Here are some examples of how the cloud is disrupting entire organisations as they react to the new wave of possibilities:

  • Providing on-demand access to business services: this empowers any staff member to select and immediately consume any service that will improve their effectiveness;
  • Offering ubiquitous access to applications and data: this makes the physical location of staff irrelevant;
  • Decentralising IT systems from in-house data centres to distributed, third party specialists: this reduces business risk and – in many cases – cost;
  • Changing the roles of technical staff: this increases their value to the organisation by allowing them to focus on business differentiating activities.

These changes are challenging and often problematic for organisations, which are forced to rethink their strategy, business model, operational processes and policies. But if they succeed in embracing the change, they can become more effective and more empowered in different ways. For example:

  • They can democratise decision making, so everyone can be an innovator and the decision to start using new technology no longer needs to be made at the very top;
  • They can provide highly collaborative services that enable interaction with clients and colleagues, thus improving the client experience and shortening the feedback loop from the customer;
  • They can help the SME compete with the multi-national, because technology is no longer a reason why something can’t be done, and is affordable and linked to business demand;

This now presents a challenge for competitors, forcing them to re-think their own models.  And so disruption spreads throughout the industry!  Cloud accelerates the realisation of innovative ideas, and although it is disruptive at first, it quickly becomes even more disruptive to competitors!  In this respect it is completely Darwinian: it’s not the biggest or strongest that survive, it’s the most adaptable!