The worst thing you can do with digital disruption is ignore it

Organizations often forget that any kind of disruption is both a threat and a business opportunity.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

If you check your phone before you brush your teeth or eat breakfast, you are with the 80 percent of 18-to 44-year-olds, surveyed in the Mobile Mindset study who rub sleep out of their eyes while checking their smart phones.

One US-based CIO recently lamented to a friend: “Software is eating the world, but I’m not sure I’m in front of its mouth or behind it.” In his team, his juniors were hopping on to new apps every day, while he was still struggling with the old ones. He simply did not know who to turn to for help or direction. The fear of losing out in the rat race, was keeping him on his toes, but on the flip side the Always-on syndrome was taking a toll on his gradually failing health. He was reeling under information glut – after all how much could he take?

The story was the same at the organizational level. So the development and operation of the company’s websites and contact centres were being outsourced. Later the development of their mobile applications for consumers also had to be farmed out to external vendors.

Sounds familiar?

Across industries, businesses are trying to grapple with social media marketing, big data analytics, competition mapping and what have you. Information and processes in business operations need to be co-ordinated more efficiently. Cloud computing, mobile technologies, social platforms and ‘Big Data’ opportunities are not just changing the technological landscape but also our business lexicon.

Companies like Elance.com and oDesk.com are among the two busiest online marketplaces for work or “talent exchanges”. The idea is simple. The employers outline the project for which they need a temporary workforce or a turnkey job. Freelancers from around the world bid for the job and quote a fee. The freelancers provide ratings by their previous list of clients. The employers get their work done and do not need to have a permanent workforce that they need to appraise, motivate, educate, counsel, create career paths and benefits plans for. The competitive bids drive down costs and come without any strings attached.

That’s an extremely disruptive, cost-effective, talent-driven model for a Human Resources head of a company. Experts contend that HR is really ripe for disruption. There is technology that is available on the mobile through apps, on the web and in the cloud to connect employees, who can deliver work from anywhere on the planet and their output can also be measured, although not by the same yardstick as used for desk-bound workers.

This can lead to problems but every pain point is an opportunity to innovate. Is it about the way the new employees are on-boarded?

If it seems like you’re bombarded with new technology and “amazing” advances in HR software, you’re probably right. But before spending your organisation’s time and money on the latest shiny thing on the market, ask yourself: “Is this technology really a good fit for us?”

That would be a good starting point.

(Based on Digital Radically Disrupts HR by David Gartside, Walter Gossage, Yaarit Silverstone, Himanshu Tambe and Susan M. Cantrell, a paper by Accenture).