Entrepreneurs are Playing by a New Rule Book

by Matthew Griffin

“Entrepreneurs are using a new ‘Technocratic Democracy’ to create multi-billion dollar organisations faster than ever before; and legacy multi-nationals are finding themselves having to transform and rebuild their businesses in ‘mid flight’ in order to compete.”

Whichever continent, whichever industry and whichever demographic or social group you look at the signs of disruption are everywhere and it’s accelerating at a frenetic pace driven by a new wave of global Twenty First century Entrepreneurs who last year registered over 100 million new companies and who are all being powered by the same new democracy but unlike the political democracies that we’re used to in the West this democracy is unstoppable, sweeping across China, Africa and the Middle East and at its heart is technology.

Today technology is becoming increasingly ubiquitous and as it does so new social, mobile and cloud based technology platforms are helping people around the world collaborate and communicate easier and faster than ever before, find funding, information and expertise faster than ever before and helping them bring new, predominantly software based products and services to market faster than ever before and this democratisation – of ideas, resources and channels is fueling a new digital revolution unlike any we’ve seen before.

The New Democracy

This ‘Technocratic Democracy’ is helping people and communities disrupt your industry and your organisation faster than ever before because when you connect billions of people together in real time the next great idea and the resources needed to design, build, promote and sell it, as well as the consumers needed to buy it are potentially just a click away.

The people have a voice. They have ideas. They have resources and they have funding. They have the power to create and hundreds of millions of them are and they have the support of Governments and investors from around the world. They’re disrupting everything and they’re using new tools and technologies to build agile businesses that have already generated trillions of dollars worth of new value. The People aren’t coming – they’re already here and Airbnb, Alibaba, Dropbox, Facebook, FireEye, Hailo, LinkedIn, Lyft, Palantir, Ratesetter, Service Now, SpaceX, Square, Tesla, Twitter, Uber, Whatsapp, Waze, Workday and YouTube are just the beginning.

Globally only 39% of the world’s population is connected – in Asia only 27% people are connected and in Africa that figure falls to below 13% so as you can see and, whether your organisation likes it or not, the fact is that we’ll see billions more people coming online so the rate and breadth of peer to peer led industrial innovation and disruption is only going to increase and it’s a wave that your organisation can either ride or, as we’re seeing all too often, get swept aside or crushed by.

If we step back just ten years a new company, whatever their industry would have had to invest hard won capital building IT systems – which are now all available on tap as pay as you go from the Cloud, hired office space – which teleworking is making obsolete, hired staff locally – who can now be provisioned from anywhere in the world at lower cost and they would have burned capital designing and developing products and prototypes – which can now be made faster, cheaper and more effectively using technologies like software emulation, additive manufacturing and Platform as a Service then lastly they would have needed to create a sales and distribution channel – which is now a web portal and spent a lot of money on marketing – which is now next to free thanks to social media. Entrepreneurs are using technology not just for business advantage – they’re using it to rewrite the rules of business itself.

Today this new world is putting many legacy multi-national Twentieth century organisations at a disadvantage – the new world creates, operates and executes at speed and a new line of business that might take an older, more mature organisation 18 months to build and resource may only take a new 21st Century organisation a month so how do large legacy bound organisations respond and should they even try?

Agility and adaptability are the new currencies of business but transforming a legacy bound 20th Century organisation into an entrepreneurial agile 21st Century enterprise is like building an aircraft in mid-flight and as unimaginable as this might sound, some organisations – often because their share prices are already feeling the impact are crafting new technology visions that harness this new world and they, like the Entrepreneurs that went before them are starting with a blank piece of paper and while this might sound like madness, especially when you take into account the fact that many of these organisations are sitting on billions of dollars’ worth of IT assets the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Multi nationals including AT&T, the CIA, Citi Group, General Electric and Warner Music have already taken the leap and embarked on the new journey investing billions of dollars to transform their legacy Technology Operations Centers into agile, IT as a Service software houses that are now at the forefront of their innovation efforts and, if your organisation is serious about riding the wave your journey is going to involve four steps:

  1. Adopt Platform as a Service and decouple your infrastructure
  2. Develop Data as a Service
  3. Become an agile software house
  4. Automate

Your challenge is undoubtedly enormous but you can start small, transforming one line of business at a time and while every transformation carries risk you’ll have to weigh up the risk of doing nothing against the risk of having your market being eaten away from under you by your new age competition. Go and get that blank piece of paper . . .

Conclusion

New age Entrepreneurs around the world are increasingly using 21st Century technologies to change the rules of business and create new value and as the revolution continues to sweep the world your organisation has the option to ride the wave or get swept aside and crushed by it and while both paths carry risk doing nothing is no longer a luxury you can afford.

image credit: upanup.com
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Matthew Griffin was recognised in 2013 by the public as one of Europe’s leading emerging technology and disruptive innovation experts. He works with Her Majesty’s Government and Private Sector organisations around the world to help them foresee the opportunities and threats that emerging technologies and trends will have on business, culture and society at large. Follow or contact hime @mgriffin_uk

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