Everyone seems to be talking about “digital disruption”: tablets and phablets, apps, social media, wearables, the Internet of Things, big data, collaborative consumption and the on-demand economy… even unicorns!?

Depending on who’s doing the talking, this is either a tremendous opportunity, or ominous threat, to existing industries and sectors.

Whichever side of the argument, one thing is clear: these technologies are driving remarkable societal and economic change, and our expectations of the institutions and organisations with which we interact are rapidly evolving.

Organisations seeking to create shared value—where organisation success is linked to positive social and environmental outcomes—are no exception. Digital technology and new ways of organising hold deep promise for innovations that also improve peoples lives: supporting socio-economic advancement; improving emotional, social and physical health outcomes; shifting behaviours towards more sustainable resource usage; and more.

More than just a product

In an age of social media, mobile devices and product-service systems, the lines between what is a product, what is a service, what is online and what is “offline” have been permanently blurred.

Our customers and stakeholders—the people we aim to serve—no longer see digital as something separate to their day-to-day “real world” experience. So you can’t afford to either.

Platform for social innovation-full/complete

A separate digital strategy—where “digital” is something bolted on to your existing models of operation—is insufficient. The greatest opportunities are not realised through the development of a simple app or product alone. They emerge from a rethinking of how we do business and building platforms for social innovation—for example, taking advantage of peer-to-peer service delivery, designing with and for community, leveraging the value and potential of “big data”, and so on…

What can I do about it?

Design Thinking and Lean Startup methodologies provide proven, effective tools to take advantage of these opportunities. But implementing such approaches can present their own challenges, especially for organisations that have optimised their operations around previously successful value propositions and models of value creation.

And what works in a purely commercial context doesn’t necessarily translate into the for-purpose sphere, where it’s not enough just to get lots of people signed up, or identify a viable price-point for our product. Our “products” impact people’s lives and the health of natural world around us. We need to ensure that our impact is positive, and that we avoid unintended harm, “rebound effects”, and other consequences. Consider, for a moment: when your product has a direct impact on someone’s wellbeing, “fail fast” can take on a whole new connotation! Measuring our impact is just as critical as measuring the financial bottom line. In this sphere, “success” is a much deeper (and more complex) proposition.

But where do I start?

It’s a lot to take in and make sense of…

  • What’s relevant to me and my organisation’s context?
  • What methods and processes are suitable for my organisation and it’s level of design and digital maturity?
  • How can I go about implementing these ideas in my projects?
  • How can I get others in my organisation on board with these new ways of doing things?

We can help you untangle these questions and work out how you can land on the right side of the “disruption” argument.