Digital change isn’t just for large organisations

Digital disruption is moving technology’s power to the people. How can these trends influence the next generation of IT candidates?


Large corporations aren’t the only entities making digital investments that are changing the way they operate. In fact, new technology is bringing power to the people – and especially to smaller businesses.

While some elements of digital transformation may come with a hefty price tag that’s out of the realm of smaller businesses, there are many others making life easier for them, such as e-commerce and social media trends.

In many cases, small businesses and startups are often better positioned to maximise the use of emerging technology. This is mostly due to the fact that a reduced workforce makes it easier to be agile and react to developing trends early.

Digital disruption hits the streets

The move away from cash payments to credit cards and now contactless payments is proving to be a revolution for any B2C company. While e-commerce giant Amazon remains proof of how e-commerce and digital payment options are enough to sustain a company, network equipment provider Cisco noted how these systems are now hitting the streets.

Cisco investigated New York’s bustling and competitive street food vendor industry, finding that the businesses here are setting an important example for similar outfits worldwide. Energy Vision noted the extent of their customer base, finding that these stalls are responsible for feeding more than a million people every day.

Naturally, with such a sizeable consumer base, there’s plenty of room for operational improvements so businesses can separate themselves from the competition. Cisco believes the Internet of Everything will be the tech trend most likely to define food carts, bringing a much-desired digital addition to their established services.

The potential benefits include more than just improved customer engagement. In their current states, many of these businesses have higher emissions than is necessary thanks to the range of cooking equipment they rely on.

The solution, Cisco found, is integrating hybrid power systems which add a solar element to these stalls. As all systems are connected and monitored over the internet, businesses can manage the efficiency of their cooking tools and storage facilities.

How disruption shifts power

Technological disruption has changed what it means to be a powerful company. Where in the past corporate success has required thousands of employees and large headquarters, the tech industry has continually removed barriers to success, part of the reason why tech startups remain a drawcard for entrepreneurs.

Arguably, the inspiration for the continuing waves of tech companies can be traced back to golden age of Silicon Valley, when Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak could take on the likes of IBM from the comfort of their garage. While Apple did eventually expand, it was as a result of the success they found as a small yet disruptive startup.

More recently, the video games industry has shown just how influential smaller development studios – or even solo creators – can become. The skyrocketing costs of video game development means the market is largely dominated by bigger publishers and development studios. However, the growing market share of PC gaming – where the barriers to entry are much lower in comparison to consoles – mean almost anyone can create a game and find an audience.

Few games represent the independent game developer revolution like Minecraft. Created by Markus Persson and a small team under the company name Mojang, the game eventually caught the attention of Microsoft. Eventually, Persson sold the entire Mojang entity, including all rights to the Minecraft brand, to Microsoft for a mammoth US$2.5 billion, setting a new standard for what passionate creators can achieve.

Uber breaks boundaries

While the financial success of independent game developers like Mojang is one side of what disruption means for modern business, the story of Uber is another lesson entirely. After all, who would’ve thought one of the world’s most talked about taxi companies could survive without owning any vehicles?

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) investigated the role Uber is playing in advertising the benefits of digital disruption. According to Senior Experience Designer Sebastian Vetter, disrupting established practices is the key to Uber’s success. By positioning themselves as an alternative to traditional taxi services, they gain their own unique position in the market.

Mr Vetter states that the unique way Uber uses new technology to subvert traditional expenses is important to their current success. Interestingly, Uber is very much a product of the current technological landscape, and would not have been able to exist in its current iteration just 10 years ago.

Uber gives its power to its users, meaning it avoids having to manage admin concerns such as call centres and traditional overheads like rent and vehicle maintenance.

The key takeaway from the review is to not mimic Uber, as that defeats the purpose of disruptive and innovative practices. Instead, entrepreneurs should be inspired to discover how established industries can evolve with the influence of emerging technology, or to create a new alternative entirely.