What can CIOs learn from the ice bucket challenge? It’s time to disrupt [Editorial]

on November 13, 2014
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The increasing power of the consumer has fundamentally changed how we communicate with each other and interact with the world around us. We’re living in an age of disruptive technology that is continuously transforming our personal life – and we have an increasing expectation that this same technology should be blended into our work life.


This era of ‘always-on’ has given rise to a new type of person: one that doesn’t view technology as an adjunct to their life, but rather sees it as part of the fabric of their every day. 



Meet the amplified individual.


At this year’s Gartner Symposium in Barcelona, we’ve been discussing the amplified individual, the effect that their behaviours are having on organisations and how CIOs can harness the influence and approach of these individuals to champion change.


What defines an amplified individual? To better understand the way that they think, behave and take action, look no further than the Ice Bucket Challenge. In the space of just one month, thanks largely to technology, the ALS received close to $100 million in donations as the phenomenon spread. It ultimately reached an estimated 440 million people across the world.


Ice Bucket Challenge


Note these two things that the ice bucket challenge tells us about technology today – and the way that we use it.


Firstly, it could never have been as successful, or perhaps even possible, as recently as ten years ago.


Without a smartphone, how many videos would have been recorded?


Without Facebook, how would videos would have been shared?


Without SMS payments, how much money would have been raised?


Secondly, it was not started by an organisation or even a collective of people. True, the participation of high-profile public figures certainly contributed to its success but it all started with just one person. 


This is the power of the amplified individual: in this era of disruption, individuals have the ability to innovate and influence on a scale far beyond what once would have been possible.



So, how can the CIO benefit from this?



In essence, consumer technology, coupled with the behaviours of these individuals, can accelerate innovation that transforms business:


1.       Enterprise IT lags behind consumer everything: whereas once, the office was more sophisticated technology-wise than the average home, the reverse is now true. Consumer technology has outpaced business technology, creating an enterprise ‘lag’ where organisations are constantly on the back-foot, struggling to integrate the consumer technology that is part of the fabric of employees’ lives into the workplace. The amplified individual expects all of their day-to-day technology to be available at work and increasingly, they won’t accept traditional, inhibiting barriers that prevent this.


2.       Consumer demands are putting pressure on traditional organisation structures and processes: the BYOD trend was just the tip of the iceberg.  The amplified individual switches between a variety of products, tools and services throughout the day. The expectation of being able to use the technology they want in the way they want at work will only become more exacerbated over time, as the digital-native generation rises through the workforce.


3.       New growth is coming from outside the business: the companies that are staying one step ahead are frequently those that are looking outside their own sphere for ways to enhance their customer experience. As an example, eBay has partnered with UK retailer Argos to create a nationwide Click and Collect service to enable customers to collect goods purchased online in-store. It’s not just about traditional companies going digital, but digital-first companies being open to every route and channel that helps them to remain attuned to evolving customer needs.


4.       Big data: whereas big data was once a niche practice confined to specific industry segments, it’s now increasingly at the heart of broader business strategy across multiple sectors. And as we can see from companies such as McLaren Applied Technologies, which is applying the data analytics capabilities derived from the race track to deliver business consultancy, it’s driving whole new areas of growth in its own right.


These forces illustrate the scale and pace of technological change and only reinforce how in an age of such disruption, sticking to the tried and tested is not an option. The CIO has traditionally driven the adoption and integration of new technology into the organisation. However, a significant proportion of workplace technology decision-making and deployment is now being led from teams outside IT, a trend that will only accelerate with this rise of the amplified individual. 


CIOs have the opportunity now to disrupt – if they don’t, in this new era of the ‘amplified’ individual, somebody else most certainly will.


* This article was shared with Samsung Tomorrow by Rory O’Neill (Marketing Director, Samsung Mobile Europe).

* Views and opinions expressed above are individual remarks and do not represent those of Samsung Electronics.

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