'Disruption is creation', a mantra for business leaders

INNOVATE or get left behind. Businesses today know it and have seen it happen with their own eyes. From Amazon to Uber and Netflix, we have all seen new or small companies disrupt or vanish within months. Leveraging technology is key. Firms of all sizes and industries need to use new technology to create advanced business models that create greater value for their customers.

Governments, too, are on board. From Singapore's Committee on the Future Economy to the Asean Economic Community formed in 2015 to India's Innovation Growth Programme, government leaders and influential organisations in the region are increasingly enabling companies of all sizes to develop innovative capabilities, make better use of technology, and implement new business models in order to stay relevant and competitive.

The opportunities are there, but what do business leaders need to consider when embracing this revolution? Here's a checklist to kick things off:

Start with the customers (and their data)

With the expansion of digital lifestyles, customers today are spoilt for choice and have higher expectations than ever before. It is essential for businesses to understand the ever-changing needs of their customers and put them at the centre of decision-making. How do they do this? It all starts with the data.

Today, all organisations (big or small) should have the capabilities to embrace a data-driven model where employees can extract insights from data and create a holistic picture of their customer segments. In fact, according to a recent Forrester report, customer insight-driven companies are growing significantly faster than their competitors as they are able to optimise every aspect of their business.

With the right tools that can utilise data generated from disparate sources, customer data can easily be transformed into the greatest business asset ever.

Transform company culture

Collaboration is the key to success. All stakeholders, departments and employees within a business need to be aligned in order for creative disruption to take place. Nothing can happen in isolation.

Marketing comes to the forefront in this process, with the most knowledge on customer behaviour and touchpoints, lines of business have a clear view on overall business objectives and challenges, information technology (IT) has the engineering and knowledge to implement advanced technologies, and every employee has a role to play in developing company culture and their own individual skills. Everyone needs to work together.

At the same time, it is essential for business leaders to embody the spirit of innovation, encourage company-wide adoption of disruptive technologies, and focus on the upskilling of every individual worker in order to create an innovative company culture. It starts from the top, but needs to trickle down to everyone.

Embrace the skills future

The people make a company. No matter how smart the technology, strong companies are built on skilled employees who know how best to leverage information and technology for greater business value.

However, there is still an IT skills gap in the Asia-Pacific and it is essential that current employers provide the right training and opportunities for employees to hone their skills. At the same time, businesses need to work together with the public sector, academic institutions, and talent placement organisations to ensure the right people are given the right opportunities and placed in the right jobs.

From a business perspective, the onus is on leaders to ensure their teams are given opportunities to upskill, collaborate and stay in tune with innovative technologies and new business processes.

Find the right partner

One way for companies to get smarter is to find the right technology partner to drive their data strategies.

With the growing demand to process and analyse massive volumes of data, the right technology will enable companies to leverage various data types and unlock insights and value. The right partner can help bridge the IT skills gap by expanding the skill sets of employees through training and support. The right partner should help drive businesses to ask more questions of their data, find more meaningful answers, and make smarter decisions.

There is no doubt that the future of any businesses today lies in disruption or destruction. Only then can companies effectively embrace the much-needed technological change in this digital era.

The writer is senior director, APAC, Cloudera

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