From Candle to Light-Bulb: Making Technology Disruptive

Those managing digital transformation programs should remember that the light-bulb was not invented by trying to improve the candle. Real progress involves re-thinking how business is done rather than simply using new technology to replicate old processes.

It seems that every innovator is describing their new technology as disruptive. This isn’t surprising; innovation requires disruption of the status quo and this is what tech firms aspire to.

The Docusign Agreement Cloud, however, provides disruptive technologies in the true sense of the term in that they are displacing existing, paper processes. Disruption, though, is just another word for change, and change needs to be managed.

Technology is Not the Full Story

The same technology used in different contexts can achieve 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 for it in a work context.

Human nature tends to resist change. Individuals don't really 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 deploy technology with the potential to be disruptive. They must create a vision for change, manage progress towards that vision and make that technology disruptive.

Transformation Doesn't Happen by Itself

Cloud solutions can be deployed quickly and offer a greatly reduced Time to Value when compared to on-prem. Whether 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.

Services Drive Success

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 on 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 specialist with Docusign. Follow on Twitter.

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