I love economics. To me, it encompasses a perfect confluence of human behavior analysis and systems thinking. Of all the concepts and theories in this field, I find the most interesting to be that of “creative destruction.” Creative destruction is the idea that the institutions around us are constantly being destroyed, rebuilt, and revolutionized. In this way, innovation isn’t simply something people do, but is a principle of existence itself.
The interesting nature of creative destruction isn’t just that sweeping change occurs, but that it can start as a tiny crack in market share and expand into world domination. One canonical example used is the decline of Sears Roebuck and the rise of Walmart. It’s hard to imagine now, but at one point Walmart held less than a single percentage point of market share while Sears was a global leader.
What happened? How can titans like Sears, Blockbuster, or Western Union (who once dominated interstate telecommunications) slip from relevance like this?
Creative destruction isn’t just fueled by the hunger and capability of a smaller player consuming the incumbent; it is achieved when the incumbent fails to act. In a way, this process is as much about self-destruction as it is about an underdog beating the giant.
The modern marketplace has taken this concept to an extreme. The demands of transparency, instantaneous results, and scalable cost structures are pervasive across every industry. Consumers bring their expectations to work with them, and even traditionally conservative business to business markets are driven to similar velocities as consumer markets. Yet most companies lack the flexibility to navigate these demands.
In this age of artificial intelligence, big data, and social mobility, transformation must occur at multiple levels, but ultimately deeply incorporate both technological and organizational change. The agility necessary to address the wave of societal and cultural change cannot be achieved through independent efficiencies or more bodies. It must be delivered by people and enabled by predictive, adaptive technology. We call this process digital transformation.
Practically, digital transformation involves maturing technologically across every facet of a company’s operations. Cloud infrastructure and real-time, big data platforms enable the foundation for robust and agile data investment. Data science, AI, and other advanced analytics capabilities turn this bedrock into actionable information driven by intelligent automation. Most importantly, a north star of organizational interconnectedness and flexible, personalized customer experience guides everything.
Complete maturity across these facets provides the tools for limitless growth and adaptation. This is the true heart of digital transformation–an understanding that vast economic forces require us not only to transform the fabric of our organizations, but to embrace ongoing cultural shifts as a new normal. Technology makes this possible, but organizations must adopt this mindset of reinvention at every level. The need to transform digitally is not simply lip service to the shareholder call, but an imperative to the survival of the organization. A comprehensive vision is required.
This prospect of constant change can be daunting, but it promises the tremendous rewards and opportunities for those who pursue it. The tech giants of today have established themselves as masters of this model, and in doing so have created new markets and trillions of dollars of value for themselves and the entire world. Observe Google’s evolution from an experiment in search to a driver of innovation across communications, advertising, human interaction, and now even self-driving automobiles. Google didn’t pursue these new avenues just because they were interesting; it pursued them because it was structured to evolve and adapt quickly to the movement of the market and society in general. It developed a comprehensive vision for the future and embraced it.
At Blueprint we believe that digital transformation is unavoidable and necessary for companies in every market—not simply to survive, but ultimately to capture the opportunities of today and the rewards of tomorrow. We believe that this opportunity is entirely within the grasp of any organization that chooses it, it just takes a vision and a plan to see the process through.
Chris Carter is the Managing Director of Technology and Innovation at Blueprint. He specializes in multiple technologies and is known for his transformative work in establishing new data platforms. He also has extensive experience helping companies transform their technology and as a result, equipping them with a modern, strategic asset within an organization. Carter has deep expertise in technologies that facilitate competitive and disruptive advantages. He has experience in both the enterprise and the startup worlds. Connect with Chris on Twitter or LinkedIn.