The need to embrace digital transformation has been a subject of much discussion in the business community for some time.
This topic has predominantly centred on the ‘why’, but we need to move this conversation to the next level and discuss the ‘how’, since many organisations in Australia are struggling to achieve their innovation ambitions.
On the one hand, you have organisations born in the digital age who find it difficult to maintain a focus on innovation as they scale and grow.
On the other hand, established organisations are struggling to create an agile and collaborative culture.
Between both groups they have the skills, knowledge and experience to overcome this conundrum.
Our research revealed that established organisations have the systems, processes and scale that startups need as they grow.
At the same time, the culture, agility and energy of startups is what established organisations are looking for to drive innovation.
It is our opinion that to overcome these individual transformation challenges, businesses need to embrace a new mindset of collaboration and partnership.
It’s a process Optus Business calls “smart disruption”, defined as:
Disrupting your own business by better anticipating evolving customer needs and innovating to meet them. Achieved by partnering with organisations of all sizes and stages of maturity to share insights and experience to create mutual value.
Many Australian businesses want smart disruption
In our new research Smart Disruption: a perspective on innovation for Australian organisations, we uncovered how businesses of varying maturity can learn from one another.
More importantly, these businesses want to learn from each other’s insights and experiences.
Despite the operational differences of digital natives and established organisations, they share a common goal of achieving long-term sustainability, and to do so with an innovative yet structured approach.
Creating an environment for smart disruption will allow learnings to freely flow, empowering businesses of all sizes and maturity to more readily respond to and anticipate changing customer needs, and to jointly build new business models.
The engine for smart disruption exists in Australia.
The opportunity – and the challenge – is now bringing the skills and experiences together into one collaborative network; where support, frameworks and platforms are shared to fuel meaningful innovation and transformation.
Working with Doctor Lara Moroko from Macquarie University, we identified three practical measures all businesses in Australia can adopt to achieve smart disruption, foster innovation, grow productivity, and improve competitiveness.
1. Close the collaboration and innovation gap
Businesses must build internal teams with strong innovation capabilities which can collaborate with other teams to coach, mentor, and model best practice.
These teams drive innovation, and help identify others to build an internal network of “collaboration ready” employees, ready to champion and identify transformation initiatives.
For instance, The Iconic embeds technical engineers into teams across the business to enable faster innovation and problem solving.
Partnerships with seasoned professionals holding deep market knowledge, such as through advisory boards and consulting positions, are also beneficial in the transformation journey.
This practice of internal collaboration boosts employee productivity and engagement.
2. Create collaboration-ready business models
A common stumbling block to mutually beneficial partnerships is inflexible business models, such as one side relying on exclusivity around IP, customer relationships, and production.
However, there is evidence to suggest that businesses undergoing transformation are prepared to evolve their business models to make them collaboration-ready – in essence, flexible enough to benefit both parties equally, in terms of profit and intangible benefits.
An example of this in action is underway at Virgin Australia, where the company introduced an internal crowdsourcing platform to foster innovation.
It’s open to all 10,000 employees, who are encouraged to submit solutions to business challenges and briefs posted on the site to foster innovation and new ways of thinking.
The process to creating collaboration-ready business models is as simple as asking:
- “Who can we partner with to solve this problem and deliver better value?”
- “What can we offer the partner?”
- “What do we expect from them?”
3. Opt in to matchmaking platforms
There are many exciting opportunities for collaboration that go far beyond incubators, accelerators, and early stage investment programs.
By actively seeking out like-minded organisations through industry communities, businesses can share skills, connections and resources to solve the same business problem, or meet the same business need.
The essential first step is the desire from business to go beyond organisational boundaries and what’s already on offer to drive positive change through smart disruption.
4. The engine for smart disruption exists
This process of continual self-disruption is not easy and few businesses have all the answers to achieve it alone.
That’s why we believe that smart disruption is so fundamentally important to our country’s economic prosperity and growth.
The sharing of learnings and experiences can fuel the growth and transformation of all businesses.
If we can embrace and embody the values of smart disruption, it will position us strongly to fuel the next wave of innovation in the Australian economy.