Is disruption your Plan B?

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Originally published by James on LinkedIn.

Struggling to find the time to get our new website finished to perfection we decided to launch a landing page for I Know IT and decided to use Carrd.co – a free or $19 a year service which includes hosting and most of the basic features we needed.  Conversely, a web designer quoted over $1000 for the same thing excluding hosting.  Basic web development disrupted.

Several new services have evolved in the digital age that put traditional pay by the hour services in the graveyard.  Businesses are struggling to keep up and it’s not just web development.  Legal, accounting and other traditional services are feeling it too. Maybe you’re experiencing it but don’t know what to do.

Disruption is imminent in all industries.  Yet, the old models still exist and generate revenue and that makes it hard to push the boundaries.  You have staff, capital expenditure, marketing, sales models and business processes that all reflect the old you, the un-innovative you and that is dangerous.

Innovators usually come from the outside, they don’t have the traditional revenue to rely on and they can’t break in unless they do something different

Innovators usually come from the outside, they don’t have the traditional revenue to rely on and they can’t break in unless they do something different – perhaps a competitor has emerged in your space who pushes you around on price because they aren’t defined by the old ways.  Welcome to disruption.

To innovate we need to re-define necessity

I look at my own industry and I see a big problem.  Our industry was tooled toward hardware revenue and maintenance services but that’s changed and so too have we in response.

If you take your own business you might be shackled by what you think is a necessity – IT expenditure year in/year out.  Administrative staff carrying out manual procedures that could be automated.  Static computer systems with exorbitant annual licensing fees are all keeping businesses costs tied up while the innovators and disruptors power ahead.

The first step is to redefine necessity.  Does your competitor invest capital in IT or do they redirect that budget toward innovation, software that runs from anywhere, IT systems that are based in the cloud? – they do the latter.

Disrupt or be disrupted.

Innovation cannot be a Plan B.  To disrupt your own industry you need to see clearly that the revenue streams of today are diminishing and that there is a possibility for new revenue streams if only you had the time, capital and energy to invest.  If you’re waiting until your IT system needs an upgrade then you’ve waited too long to innovate.

To make change you need to free your organisation of unnecessary and distracting expenditure.  IT is one of those.

Old IT is no longer the centre of innovation – it’s a cost centre

When we look to innovate we often look at IT – after all, our IT department or IT consultants have usually been the ones to tell us about the latest and greatest gadgets or the next big thing.  But IT is unfortunately stuck dealing with managing and maintaining what you have now and it’s a rare few that can see past the day to day needs of your company to help you launch a new business idea.

While they’re stuck – you cannot afford to be.

New IT is faster and more innovative than old IT.  For example:

  • Software applications that sit purely in the cloud, free of servers, usually low cost and easy to change if it’s not working for you
  • Cloud reduces your dependency on hardware and maintenance and allows you and your people to work from anywhere
  • Basic IT is a commodity – if you must buy hardware it’s easy to look online and get a fair indicator, while you still need services there’s a difference between getting a helpdesk service versus strategy and managing complex IT systems
  • When your baseline IT is working correctly you can start to look at how to compete – maybe your admin functions are manual and high cost and there’s a software application or offshore resource that can help with that.  Perhaps your customer facing systems are dated and you can develop a website or app to get one over your competitors.

How you will disrupt and compete against your own industry is up to you – your ability to do so is highly dependent on freeing yourself of the old ways of doing business and investing in a new way.

Just don’t make it your Plan B.. or you might need a Plan C…

James is the Managing Director of I Know IT, a company founded on the basis that your IT should simply work. Once IT is working the goal is to use it to your competitive advantage.

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