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Why innovation disrupts business

Technologies like big data, social media and cloud computing are regarded as positive developments, many regard them as disruptions to current business processes. ANGELA GAHAGAN-THOMSON explains how these technologies can be used to boost current processes instead of hindering them.

One of the major transformational forces that is and will continue to be responsible for shifting the tectonic plates of the business world is technological progression. Technologies such as big data and analytics, the use of social media in business, cloud computing, mobility, applications, decentralised decision-making, gamification, and the advent of the paperless workplace will drive the biggest changes of the business processes for firms over the next couple of decades.

This progression should be regarded as positive development that leads to the creation of more streamlined and optimised business processes, rather than a disruptive force throwing the business into disorder.

Businesses will not be able to stay ahead of the disruption curve simply by investing and continually assessing new technologies. For companies to minimise the impact of disruption and put themselves in a better position to experience growth in future, firms need to review the business processes behind these new technologies to optimise them, so that these add real business value to the organisation.

Linking innovation with business processes

By using new technology as a means to change the way in which business is done, rather than an end in itself, businesses can become disruptors within their own industries – consider the example of ridesharing service Uber, which has disrupted the public transport and established taxi services wherever its sets up shop. This is simply because it exploits the prevalent technology of the day – smartphones and apps – to deliver a seamless user and transportation experience from start to finish for customers.

Clients simply download the Uber app onto their smartphones, and link the app to their credit card or other payment service. They are then empowered to ‚Äòhail’ a cab, see when it is nearby, get in and get to their destination, all without having to worry about having cash or their cards on them since the fare is automatically calculated and charged to the card, rather than paid to the driver.

First National Bank (FNB) has also exploited new technology – Microsoft’s Kinect motion-based sensing technology – to provide its customers with a way to make their way through a digital catalogue of account and device offerings. Customers simply stand in front of select dotFNB stores’ front windows to use motions and gestures to browse for and select their desired account and an accompanying device, all without having to enter an FNB branch. They are able to use this platform to apply for an FNB account outside of normal banking hours, as it is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Disruption begins at home

Over the course of the next few decades, digital disruption will move to reshape all of the world’s industries. Technology will help people make better use of their time, focus their attention, and strengthen their relationships.

To assist companies with this, Microsoft aims to enable organisations to change, quickly and cost effectively through a cloud-first, mobile-first strategy that delivers the productivity tools and services that users need whenever and from which ever device they want to access these.

We also changed the way we work and the technology we produce at Microsoft, as a result of digital disruption. Our goal is to support both the digital work and life experiences of our customers. We want to delight dual-users – those that use technology both at work and in their personal lives.

* Angela Gahagan-Thomson, EPG Lead at Microsoft South Africa

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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