Digital Disruption (1) Awareness v.s. Action

“Wherever there is change, and wherever there is uncertainty, there is an opportunity!” — Mark Cuban

When is the last time you went to a CD or DVD store? I remembered the last time I went to a CD store was for one of my design class assignment — CD Package Design back in 2009. Now it is 2019, I haven’t been to a CD store ever since then.

According to the survey that around 80% of the business believe that digital disruption will change their industry but only 20 % of the business is taking the actions of transforming it.

It is as same as the technology disruptions to businesses — We know that 5G, XR, IoT, ML, AI, Green Energy, Automation… are going to change the world, but not many businesses want to start taking the journey and make the change. Here are some excuses that inside people’s mind:

“Our business has been doing everything the way it always has for a long time. We are always successful in what we are doing now. We don’t have to change.”

“When clients choose which services to go — they chose the safest one, not the most innovative one due to its high risk.”

“Let’s wait until our competitors change first, see how it goes. If they are doing well, then we follow them.”

“It will take at least 10 years for the new technologies to be wildly accepted, I will probably retire by then. I don’t have to change.”

“If I cannot see the return right away, I won’t invest.”

“I don’t like to work on something that I don’t really know. I only work on something that I am really good at.”

In the book *The Technology Fallacy, the author talks about the digital disruptions for business:

In the same way, the story of digital disruption we explore here isn’t really about technology. Rather, it is about how companies navigate their way through the new competitive environment to which technology has brought us. — The Technology Fallacy, The MIT Press

To change or not to change, that is the question

In Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey — at the beginning of every hero’s journey, the hero struggled to choose whether to take the journey or not when there was a big obstacle in his life that forced him to change. Even though the hero would say “no” to himself at the beginning, later on, he chose to take the journey: changed himself, and later, changed the world around him.

Everyone knows something is going to change, but they all wait for the “Right time” to change! *The “Right Time” means the time that if they don’t change, the business will die.

Why we have to change? Due to the new inventions each year, the current products in the market will soon be obsoleted. Before, if you want to be a graphic designer, you have to go to school, learn all the software, theories, taking all the classes, after 4 years you get a diploma — Then you can call yourself a graphic designer.

Now the technologies pretty much knock down the walls of all the colleges and universities. The knowledge is free now as long as you want to learn. You can learn anything, anytime, at any level, anywhere with no fee or little fee as long as you have internet. You can go to YouTube or any online classes to learn all the design skills for free and connect to anyone you like on the internet. Anyone can call himself an expert as long as he has the required skills without a college degree.

Let’s take a time travel and go back to 10 years ago — colleges were the old knowledge authorities; banks were the old money transferring authorities; TV and Newspaper were the old news authorities; bookstores were the only place you can buy books in the past, car dealerships and real estate agencies were the only contact points if you want to buy cars or houses.

Now, as long as you know something more than others, you are the teacher and can teach online freely; all the money transferring apps reduce the fees from banks; social media replace TV and newspapers, online stores replace book stores; all the e-commerce websites replace the car dealerships and real estate agencies.

The old power is dissolved, and people and users gain new powers from the old authorities each day when new technologies being invented and updated each year.

The future is here, it’s just unevenly distributed. — William Gibson, Science-fiction Writer

Digital Maturity = Digital Adaptabilities

Digital maturity means how the business uses the current technology to transform its processes, talent engagement, and business models.

IT, telecom, media, and entertainment are the industries that gain the highest scores for Digital Maturity; while Manufacturing, Federal Government, and Construction get the lowest scores for Digital Maturity.

The book “*The Technology Fallacy”, it defines digital maturity as:

Aligning an organization’s people, culture, structure, and tasks to compete effectively by taking advantage of opportunities enabled by technological infrastructure both inside and outside the organization.

When technology changes, the whole business eco-system changes

Technology evolves faster than individuals; while individuals evolve faster than organizations.

For example, according to the book *Technology Fallacy — If the self-driving car becomes the mainstream, here are some industries that might be affected by self-driving cars:

  1. Car dealers: If all the cars are self-driving cars, then there is no need to own a car since 90% of the time a car is set in the garage, and no need for humans to operate the car. The Uber-like system will be built to save people’s time and money. Car dealers need to change the way they operate. Instead of selling cars, they might switch to maintaining the network system.
  2. Auto insurance: The insurance policy might change from individual to carmakers.
  3. Public transportation: If self-driving cars can use collecting data to make better routes and create a better and safer ride, then why wait for the bus and public transportation? The infrastructures for public transportation will change.

Successful Digital Transformation Examples

Here are some examples of how business integrated technologies to change their business successfully:

  1. Walmart: In 2016, Walmart changed its business strategy by acquiring big online retail stores such as and, and integrating customer-first mindset, collaboration, and design thinking into its internal culture.
  2. Best Buy: In 2012, Best Buy starts to change its strategy from a physical store to online marketing stores with great service. Instead of selling the products in the Best Buy stores, the employees provided consultation and educated customers on digital products. The stock price of Best Buy from $24 to $75 in 2019.
  3. Home Depo: Starts from 2018, Home Depo changes its digital hardware and software in order to improve the online shopping experience. Instead of focusing on the physical stores, Home Depo engaged with contractors and DIYers shopping online and pick up the products in-store.

Conclusion: Shift Your Mindset and Embrace Change

In order to make a change, we need to stop thinking about the short-term ROI but the long-term strategy to improve and adjust the business model.

“If you ‘re truly going to accelerate performance improvement, you have to stop focusing on efficiency. If it’s just efficiency, that’s a diminishing-returns game. The more cost-effective and faster you are, the harder it’s going to be to get to the next level of efficiency. But if you focus on effectiveness, on impact, on value delivered to whatever the arena is — the sky’s the limit. That’s a mindset shift, getting out of that efficiency mindset.” — John Hagel, co-chair of Deloitte’s Center.


Alexandra Jankovich & Tom Voskes. (2018) Make Disruption Work. Published by SparkOptimus

Gerald. C.Kane, Anh Nguyen Phillips, Jonathan R. Copulsky, and Garth R. Andrus. (2019) The Technology Fallacy. Published by The MIT Press

Blake Morgan (07/21/2019) 7 Examples Of How Digital Transformation Impacted Business Performance. Forbes

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