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How to win in a disrupted world

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Kathy Gibson reports from Dell EMC Forum in Sandton – Disruption is a reality, all companies are going to experience it – but there are some principles that, if companies apply them, can turn disruption into significant opportunities.
Nigel Moulton, chief technology officer for the converged platform system group: EMEA of Dell EMC, outlines the six rules.

The interface is everywhere
“The interface between man and machine was the keyboard,” Moulton says. “With phones and tablets, it turned to swipe.
“Then, a little while ago, Apple made a profound change with the advent of voice interfaces.”
Other technology giants have been quick to add voice to their own offerings. “There is no keyboard, no touch, no swipe – the interface is the human voice.”
This change has happened quickly, Moulton adds. In just 18 months, at least five voice interfaces are now in widespread use.
Importantly, technologies like Alexa have open APIs, so anyone can embed it into their own systems.
“So think about the human voice, and think about how you would change the thing you do if you were to talk to it. How would it change the way you serve your customer?”

Remove the friction
Some companies are losing business for the simple reason that their competitors are easier to do business with.
“The reason we are afraid of startups is that they have often removed the friction,, they are easy to work with.
“As a general principle we should be removing the friction at every opportunity we can. The complexity of the process might be massive, but the customer experience must be seamless.
“The code the startups have cracked is that it’s easy to do business with them. You have to make it easier to consume the thing you have.”
This applies to customers and employees, Moulton says.

Embrace non-linearity
Moulton explains that non-linearity takes us into a geometric world where things double every time they change.
People are comfortable at the early stages of non-linear progression, he adds, but we become uncomfortable when numbers become too big and too complex.
“We are now generating compute power that is taking us into the second part of the picture,” Moulton says.
As we get into the realm of really big numbers, the noise becomes a problem, and finding the signal is something that the human brain can’t cope with.
And we are almost there, Moulton says. Google on its own have 1-million physical servers, each with at least eight virtual machines – and Google is just one player.
Moore’s Law doesn’t just drive processing, Mouton adds. There is an economic impact as well.
In November 2016, Microsoft was processing 12-trillion IoT messages per day.
“So embrace non-linearity,” he says. “we now have critical mass, and things will fundamentally change.”

Prepare for abundance
Moulton offers the example of photography, where it is easy to take pictures, and everyone takes thousands of them. The challenge now becomes one of storing and indexing pictures.
“The law of accelerate returns is the economic principle that applies to this,” he says.
The photography industry took about seven years to get to where it is today.
The next industry that will go through this disruption will be solar power, Moulton believes. Moore’s Law applies and energy will go from being scarce to being abundant.
“In the future we won’t centralise power, we will decentralise it and use the grid to distribute it.”
Another changing industry is autonomous vehicles, and there are many other examples.
“Think about the industry you are in, and how it will change.”
We won’t be able to make these transitions with our traditional IT infrastructure, though.
We will see a transition from traditional applications to cloud-native applications.
“We will have to develop new skills, fundamentally re-orchestrate how we do IT,” Moulton says.
This is a journey, he adds, and companies should avoid being divisive and creating opposing IT teams.
The things that underpin the new IT world are infrastructure, virtualisation, orchestration and platform.
“Platform businesses fundamentally change the business you are in,” Moulton says.
In terms of the technology being adopted, Moulton points out that IT tends to be operating in a hybrid cloud environment.

Be honest
“This is the age of WikiLeaks,” Moulton says.. “It’s the age when you are going to be found out. Making mistakes in the corporate culture and being dishonest has a profound effect.”
This means being transparent with your own people, shareholders and media needs to be part of the corporate culture.
“Encourage honesty and transparency in everything you do.”

Be curious
“Think about the macro-trends and how they will affect your own industry,” Moulton advises.
“We need to be worried, and thinking about the changes in the world. You have to be curious.”