30 January 2017

Watching over your shoulder: why disrupting business sectors need to get smarter - fast

By Daniel Olsson, Managing Director, Soitron UK

It’s almost a cliche now, but you do know - don’t you - the answers to the following questions:

  • Who’s the world’s biggest hospitality company, and does it own any hotels?
  • Name the biggest taxi firm - which has never rented a cab of any colour, from black to yellow?
  • And for the hat-trick: has the globe’s dominant broadcast channel ever made a single programme of its own? 

road arrow white

I refer, of course, to Airbnb, which has 2 million places you can stay on its websites, Uber, which can get you home safely in nearly 550 cities worldwide now, and YouTube - the subsidiary of Google that is the second most popular site on the whole Internet, and which, judging by my house, is where most teens live, when they’re not SnapChatting (or eating).

The point is clear: we live in uncertain times, especially if you are an established brand. Gigantic, decades or even hundreds year old industries can - and do - vanish overnight in the face of endless digital change. Cases in point are the wet photography business and the popular music industry; we still take pix and consume new songs, but the days of Kodak and your Saturday trip to HMV are gone for good.

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From bankers nervously eyeing a new class of fintech apps to book publishers wondering if they’ll still be in business in five years, we live in times of rapid change and disruption. To quote the father of the whole disruption trope, Clay Christensen, even the biggest, most dominant players need to realise that they are not there by Holy Writ: “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.”

Avoidance of buggy-whip status: quite important!

What’s the smart play here for business? More and more experts believe it’s in scaling down overheads as much as possible, but being in a position of total readiness to move when opportunity presents. That rubric applies across the board, but is a message that the internal IT leader should be especially receptive to.

Why? Because sticking with a rigid outsourcing agreement for your IT development help could hamper you when it comes to dealing with the levels of savage competition we all have to get used to now. Better is adoption, say experts like Deloitte, of something called staff augmentation - a flexible sourcing solution whereby on an as-needed, project-specific basis, you can draw on skilled expertise, flexing up and down as circumstances dictate.

Staff augmentation best practice starting to show
very strong returns, and is replacing the traditional
contractor strategy.

The best way of accessing this resource, it’s emerging, is staff augmentation and outsourcing through nearshoring of talent in the CEE (Central and Eastern European) region (think Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania). That’s because the talent is in abundance, they speak the right languages, know the right code, have track record in building great systems - and are extremely cost-affordable, too.  Staff augmentation best practice starting to show very strong returns, and is replacing the traditional contractor strategy.

people walking the street

None of us can assume the future of our company or industry is set. We all have to be able to adapt - to either compete with whoever’s coming up on your shoulder, or even setting up as the new Airbnb or Uber of your company, either, of course.

 See if staff augmentation could help. I think whatever you can grab is worth looking at, quite frankly  - unless you want to be what Gartner used to say is,
The best - but last - buggy-whip manufacturer in town

Many of these issues are covered in greater depth here.

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