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Disrupting the retail disruptors

By Alan Perkins

Managing Director


WHAT’S the difference between digital transformation and digital disruption? You’ll get many different answers to this question, depending who you ask. I’d say that digital transformation is the introduction of digital means to replace or augment what was done before, keeping essentially the same business model, products and services; whereas digital disruption is changing the basis of competition, using digital products, services or new business models that have been enabled by digital technology.

For most types of business that existed in pre-digital days, digital transformation began with the introduction of the PC in the 1980s. This allowed back office functions like accounting to be performed far more efficiently. It also allowed things like desktop publishing, computer-based learning and so on. Generally, there was nothing new in what was being done, just in how it was being done. The outcomes were still the same: accounts done, letters written, staff trained and so on. Digital disruption has come along later. The phrase “disruptive innovation” was introduced by Harvard professor Clayton Christensen in his 1997 book The Innovator’s Dilemma, and digital disruption stems from that. Innovation is a lot easier in the digital domain as it’s still young.

Companies that everybody agrees are disruptive, like Airbnb or Uber, disrupted their respective markets not with fantastic new technology – it wasn’t – but with innovative new business models coupled with brilliant execution that was enabled by technology.

Many retailers believe that they have been through digital disruption whereas, for the most part, they have simply been through digital transformation. Ironically, this may put them at an advantage against the true disruptors. Disruption is harder and more expensive when you carry legacy baggage. Disruptors now carry some baggage and the opportunity exists for them to be challenged by retailers who have some capable digital systems and data. As one SilverDisc client put it: “In these days of millennial and disruptive strategies, SilverDisc are not only cutting edge but outpacing so called disruptors!” That’s why SilverDisc, a Google Premier Partner, is hosting an event dedicated to Maximising Retail Profits with Marketing Technology at Google’s flagship London HQ on June 18. Attending retailers will see case studies from our clients and Google and learn effective strategies for leveraging their technology to outpace the disruptors, position their businesses and achieve their growth ambitions.

If you’re a B2B or B2C retailer who would like to register for this free event, contact SilverDisc by calling 01536 316100 or visiting silverdisc.co.uk

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