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Digital disruption - What does it actually mean?

We all know that we’re living through a unique period of time, where profound changes to the world around us occur not just more frequently, but at an unprecedented scale. It’s no surprise that a significant advancement in technology – and the rate at which it’s adopted – has directly or indirectly driven most of these changes. Where it took 75 years before the telephone reached 100 million users, Instagram achieved this milestone in just two.

The way we work, socialise, communicate, consume information, shop and interact with nearly everything in our lives has been affected.

The evolution of everything digital – from the initial rise of social media and smartphones to the growth of big data, the IoT and AI – will continue to drastically change the way we behave. To put the change into perspective, in the last two years, 9 times more data has been created than in the entire history of humanity up to that point.

Let that sink in for a second.

The topic of disruption in marketing was the focus of the agenda at last week’s breakfast event 'Navigating B2B Marketing', run by the DMA and IDM. Speakers from Deloitte, Google, O2 Business and Sage covered a range of topics, frequently coming back to the digital changes they’ve aided or driven within their organisations.

Defining digital

Digital transformation, digitalisation, digital disruption – the list goes on. These are not new terms – most large enterprises have had a Chief Digital Officer for a few years, and Gartner estimates that 90% of large organisations will have a Chief Data Officer by 2019. It’s clear that when discussing digital, it’s important to understand what aspect is being talked about.

Here are the three main areas:

  • New technology – (Digital technology and IT systems)

  • Engaging with customers – (Digital marketing)

  • Entirely new ways of doing business – (Digital transformation)

  • Thanks to rapid development across all areas of digital, modern businesses have realised that they must keep up with the resultant changes in behaviour or risk being overtaken by tech-savvy start-ups or early adopting competitors. Technology and the data that it produces present opportunities for businesses to interact with customers in new and more innovative ways – and to gain a competitive advantage because of that.

We should all stop thinking of digital as a ‘thing’, and start thinking of it as a new source of revenue.

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