Disruption is an Apologetic Word

Has the word "disruption" become meaningless in 2017? At CxO Disrupt Brisbane, the 'Great Digital Expectations' panel discussed this and more.


“I’m so tired of the word disruption. It’s so apologetic. To me it’s all about change. Let’s focus on progress, change, responding to the forces of the market. Let’s not be reluctant about it, let’s embrace it.”

That’s how Steven Preston, Head of Marketing at Akamai Technologies, kicked off the ‘Great Digital Expectations’ panel at OmniChannel Media’s CxO Disrupt Brisbane in July at the Marriott Hotel.

The likes of Uber and Airbnb have shown that this change comes from a digital and online approach, the likes that have never been seen before.

It’s important now that organisations realise this and start working towards a strategy that allows for them to engage with customers wherever they are.

Liam Griffiths, Team Leader for Digital Engagement at the Queensland Department of the Premier and Cabinet echoed these thoughts, as he said that this is the exact approach the Queensland government is aiming to take.

“The appetite of the government now is moving towards really embracing the opportunity of digital,” he said.

Preston emphasised the importance of high flexibility and speed when online, because the elevated expectations and low patience for users mean there is little room for error.

“53 per cent of people will abandon your website if it takes longer than three seconds to load. So imagine having a great campaign that’s driving acquisition, driving people to your website and half of them are turned away because your page is too slow.”

Sue Coulter, Chief Digital Officer for CUA highlighted that it’s impossible to drive these changes without first changing the culture within the business to foster innovation.

When beginning CUA’s digital transformation journey. Coulter recognised that there was suddenly a need to send power down the hierarchy and ensure that the team is ready for that added responsibility.

“Some of the most obvious things to me are the changes in culture that we see. You have to be faster, you have to empower your teams more,” she said.

Cara Walsh, Executive Manager – Digital Strategy at RACQ, thinks that having a department just for ‘digital’ does more harm than good when it comes to the organisational structure.

Walsh believes that it’s better that the term digital be used in a whole-of-business structure, rather than siloing it to one department responsible for it.

“I think the issues around recognising the full potential of data are around structures within the organisation.

We have to pretty quickly get rid of digital departments because the way that it’s structured right now is that within organisations get someone held-up on who’s responsibility is that, and the definition of digital,” she explained.

The marriage of digital and data is increasingly important as well. It’s impossible to do one well without the other, but Dwayne Birtles, Head of Digital and Analytics at FlightCentre, suggests that data is used to validate presumptions, rather than basing assumptions off of it.

“My approach is to ask the question first. Then use the data to validate that from a cultural point of view. It’s more asking the question than validating because what people say and what they do is vastly different.”

Preston agreed with these assertions, also adding that the risk of digital transformation needs to be managed when implementing strategies based off of customer analytics needs to be managed.

“As we’re all introducing new capabilities for our websites and applications, we have to make sure we’re managing that risk,” he concluded.