It is the Ultimate Equalizer

By Tony Saldanha

Digital technology has pitted large companies versus start-ups, entrenched industry leaders against historically “also-ran” competitors, David versus Goliath. Among all this turmoil, the question for forward-thinking leaders is how to turn these unprecedented opportunities into relevant action. While the William Gibson’s saying, “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed”, has always been true, the sheer discontinuity of the emerging future allows change leaders to win disproportionately versus change resistors. That’s true of individuals and it’s also true of organizations.

To be sure, one of the reasons why digital transformations fail is that it is hard to drive change within established enterprises. Beyond all the issues of managing change in a legacy organization and culture, the financial risk-reward systems in larger enterprises appear to be stacked against them, in favor of their nimble start-up competitors. As Maxwell Wessell points out in his September 2017 article in Harvard Business Review titled ‘Why preventing disruption in 2017 is harder than it was when Christensen coined the term,” the most disruptive challenges for established companies today come from startups.

Digital Is the Ultimate Leveler of the Playing Field

They are able to create asset-light disruptions. Consider Uber vs. General Motors, or AirBnb vs. Hilton. Further, while larger enterprises are usually constrained to funding innovation using debt, their start-up peers borrow at 10X to 30X revenue multiples using equity stakes. Much of this cheap, asset-light disruption is enabled by digital technology. However, this dynamic cuts both ways.

One way to win disproportionately in the digital era is to be among the digital change leaders. Make your digital transformation initiative count. This book demonstrates how to improve the odds of digital transformation by lowering the costs and risk of change.

It Is Up to You
We are fortunate to have the opportunity to lead change in only the fourth industrial revolution in the history of mankind. The technology is here. The change models exist. The conviction and mindset to thrive in this era will belong to individual leaders, as has always been the case throughout history. As you take up the challenge to transform the future, my humble belief is that we need to learn from past industrial revolution stories. Digital disruption can be overcome.

The reason why digital transformations fail is that they take more discipline than one might expect. It takes a surprising amount of discipline and a positive outlook of the possibilities for digital transformations to succeed.

This is an excerpt by Tony Saldanha from his best-selling book, “Why Digital Transformations Fail.”