A man in business attire at the starting line of a track

Intelligent Technology: Disrupt or Be Disrupted

1 Jul 2015 by Bob Kane

Recently at Cisco Live, John Chambers, former CEO of Cisco, gave one of his last major speeches to the technology industry before retiring. He had some compelling and somewhat unsettling words:

"Forty percent of businesses in this room, unfortunately, will not exist in a meaningful way in 10 years," he told the 25,000 attendees, adding that 70% of companies would ‘attempt’ to go digital, but only 30% of those would succeed.

"If I'm not making you sweat, I should be," he said.

"It will become a digital world that will change our life, our health, our education, our business models at the pace of a technology company change," Chambers said. He warned companies that they could not "miss a market transition or a business model" or "underestimate your competitor of the future — not your competitor of the past.

"Either we disrupt or we get disrupted," he said.

These words sent an icy chill down the spine of every attendee, and if you are building a business, it may do the same thing to you.

My role at Insight is to manage the meaningful connections we have with all of our technology partners — including the largest and most innovative leaders in the industry. I do this in support of our clients, who today demand complex, intelligent technology solutions to drive their businesses forward. And one thing I am noticing? The partners of yesterday, while still vital and important to the technology ecosystem of business today, are being supplemented by a whole cadre of emerging, entrepreneurial, born-in-the-cloud solutions — some of which businesses may not even realize yet that they need.

Wraparound technologies of tomorrow

The future of intelligent technology for business will include not only the names we’ve come to know — Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Cisco, Apple — but a number of wraparound technologies that extend today’s products into powerful solutions to drive human resources, marketing, supply chain, sales, finance, legal, operations — virtually every line of business within a company.

So just as in the technology industry, the competitors of your past may not be your competitors in the future — your greatest competition may not exist today.

Patient-friendly healthcare technology

Think about healthcare. Ten years ago, there really wasn’t an alternative to seeing a physician in a clinic. Today, companies like Minute Clinic will see you in a drugstore, enabling you to walk five steps and be at the pharmacy — and grab tissues and orange juice while you’re at it. MeMD offers Skype consultations with licensed physicians who can make a diagnosis and fill your prescription over the Internet. All of the sudden, healthcare organizations aren’t competing against each other; they’re competing against new, more patient-friendly models of care where technology is central.

What intelligent technology do you need to drive your business forward? To spend more time with your customers, better meet their needs and ultimately grow your business? The answer may not be one of the big technology brands you know today. Disrupt or be disrupted.