Monday, August 18, 2014

From Candle to Lightbulb: Making Technology Disruptive

Those in charge of Digital Transformation programs should remember that the light-bulb was not invented by trying to improve the candle. Digital Transformation should involve re-thinking how business is done, rather than simply using new technology to replicate old processes.
Recently, it seems that every innovator is describing their new technology as disruptive. This isn’t surprising; only by disrupting the status quo can real progress be made.
eSignature and Digital Transaction Management are disruptive technologies in the true sense of the term in that they are displacing existing, paper processes. The reality, though, is that disruption is just another word for change, and change needs to be managed.
Those of us in implementation know that the same technology used in different contexts can realise wildly different levels of success. One large, multinational consulting organisation, for example, noticing the amount of time employees were spending on social media, spent millions deploying a Facebook-style ‘internal social networking’ website on their intranet. Nobody uses it, because nobody sees any reason to.
Human nature is resistant to change. Individuals tend not to want to modify their behaviour unless there is a very good reason to do so.
IT buyers must realise that it is no longer enough to procure and deploy technology with the potential to be disruptive. They must create a vision for change, manage progress towards that vision and make that technology be disruptive.
Cloud solutions can be deployed quickly and  offer a greatly reduced Time to Value without the need for investment in IT infrastructure. Whether a technology is Cloud-based or not, however, its ability to drive genuine, game-changing disruption depends on people.
Disruptive, transformative progress requires individuals who can diagnose business problems, establish how technology will help solve these problems, and make sure that those solutions are adopted.
To design transformative solutions, you need an appreciation of the ‘art of the possible’ that only goes with specialist, technical knowledge of the platform. To drive adoption, you need an understanding of the business and the ability to mandate how individuals change their way of working.
Success depends having individuals with this combination of business and technical skills available when you need them. Without these elements, you end up with technology that doesn’t deliver as much value as it should and you end up just improving the candle when what you really need is a light-bulb.

Kevin Boyle is an eSignature and Digital Transaction Management specialist with DocuSign. Follow on Twitter.

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