Doing business in a disrupted future

Digital technologies are transforming all industries, redefining business models and creating new opportunities for organisations who are proactive, and disrupting slow movers.

This is certainly the case for the global market sectors in which GHD operates: water, energy and resources, environment, property and buildings, and transportation.

While some organisations have been impacted already, others are on the cusp of disruption.

Kumar Parakala, GHD’s Global Digital Leader, says, “Disruption occurs when digital technologies enable breakthrough value for clients, harnessing a new way of thinking about customers, products and services, business models, talent pools, organisational structures and the ecosystem the business relies on.

“Digital disruption is advanced in industries such as retail, transport, hospitality, publishing, telecommunications and others.”

How to harness the digital revolution

Whether we like it or not, digital transformation is accelerating. Kumar outlines five important business transformation priorities to consider:

  • A customer of tomorrow, not just today – Digitisation and adoption of new digital technologies will enable traditional organisations to identify new opportunities and customer segments that they are not currently serving. It is important for leaders to think outside the square and create a breakthrough value for their current and future customers. The latter are likely to be very different to their existing ones, as digital technologies combined with business model changes create new value propositions.
  • Convert data into a strategic asset – Both public and private organisations are custodians of a wealth of data within their operations. There are now excellent capabilities to convert this data into high-quality insights and information, thanks to advancements in predictive analytics and artificial intelligence. Combining these with industry and customer domain knowledge is likely to create significant value. Leaders should recognise the excellent potential of turning their data into strategic assets to drive bottom line benefits such as streamlining operations or achieving efficiencies.
  • Think about which jobs will emerge and which ones will disappear – As industry structures change, new job opportunities are emerging. Over the next five years, 50 percent of current jobs are likely to disappear while new roles will emerge as a result of value chain reduction, automation and business transformation. This will have major business, societal and economic impacts. Although this may seem alarming, humankind has gone through this kind of change many times in the last 100 years. It is important that organisations proactively think about the roles and people that will help shape their future.
  • Redefine innovation as co-creation with clients – Compared to the traditional model where innovation is focused on finished products and pre-defined services, the new approach concentrates on identifying the right challenge and working with clients to develop experimental solutions that can either fail quickly (and provide valuable lessons) or become widely successful. At GHD, for example, our people are applying spatial technologies to inform our clients’ decisions by automating analysis and reporting of physical asset changes. They’re also undertaking rapid city-scale high-resolution modelling.
  • Adopt multiple business models for growth – Organisations that enjoy a monopoly or significant market share today can no longer take comfort in their market leadership. Disruption is everywhere – if it hasn’t hit your industry yet, it’s only a matter of time. The traditional model of competition makes it very clear who the competitors are. Now that the digital era is here, the lines of competition are blurred with outsiders becoming competitors (e.g. Uber, Google, Amazon, etc). These rivals offer a unique value proposition and use new business models to serve customers. That’s why business model changes will become important factors for the viability of many businesses in the future. Put simply, leaders will require new business models to deliver new value to their customers or citizens.