5 June 2013

What is Digital Disruption? (Part 1)

Digital disruption refers to changes enabled by digital technologies that occur at a pace and magnitude that disrupt established ways of value creation, social interactions, doing business and more generally our thinking.

Digital Disruption can be seen as both a threat and an opportunity:
  • ICT-induced change happens at a pace and scale that impacts on existing business practice in disruptive ways, threatening and invalidating existing business models. 
  • Digital technologies offer new opportunities for the creation of innovate business models for entrepreneurs to compete with established business practices in a wide range of industries. 
Digital Disruption can occur on various levels: 
  1. Disruptions to individual life practices (example: Mobile connectivity disrupts established work-life boundaries) 
  2. Disruptions to work practices (example: Narrating work via microblogging in the workplace changes what counts as (valuable) work)
  3. Disruptions to business practices (example: Workplace social media disrupts the way information travels in the organisation and induces shifts in power relationships) 
  4. Disruptions to industry structures (example: Digitisation of media content and user-generated content disrupts traditional value chains of content production and delivery) 
  5. Disruptions to societal systems (example: Social media participation disrupts traditional practices of public opinion making) 
While the above examples point to profound changes to established business practices, they do not fully illustrate what exactly makes these changes truly disruptive.

Have you came across digital disruption at your business or workplace?

Stay tuned for more discussion on this topic next week.

Author : Associate Professor Kai Riemer
Chair of Discipline of Business Information Systems, University of Sydney Business School
Kai's research covers the areas of Enterprise Social Media, Digital Disruption, Technology Appropriation and Sense-Making, Virtual Work, and the Philosophy of Technology. You can read more at his blog. Also follow Kai on Twitter.

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