Rapid advancement in digital technologies means that market and customer change is outpacing the rate at which companies can respond, and while there are now fewer constraints, there are more variables in trying to plan and invest in new products and services.
A new how-to guide from OutSystems SA, titled “How to disrupt and avoid disruption”, authored by ex-CIO and now independent trend spotter and future strategist, Terry White, serves as a guide for South African companies looking to engage in disruptive innovation in an increasingly complex environment.
In a report titled “The case for digital reinvention”, consultancy firm KPMG shows that disruptors enjoy a 12,3% improvement in revenue, while future-proofing your business as a defensive stance – being a fast follower – shows a 5,3% gain.
“When seen against ‘disrupted’ organisations, which will show a revenue decline, the net effect is a more than 20% improvement in revenues,” says White.

Traditional methods no longer work
When navigating business environments characterised by rapid technological change and shrinking product cycles, sticking to traditional decision-making methodology becomes costly, risky, and time consuming.
This view is supported by research by Accenture, which suggests that future-proofed organisations will establish partnerships and work within a wide-ranging ecosystem; they’ll focus on their unique expertise and make it indispensable to their ecosystem; and finally they will embrace operational flexibility.
“In complex environments, when assumptions are uncertain, you invest for the short-term to test your assumptions – about what customers want, about what product features they need, and about who will pay for what,” says White, calling it the Real Options or “invest to test” approach.
By testing, South African companies can quickly and more affordably ascertain if their customer hypothesis is right, or if proved wrong, to wait for a more favourable market environment, to test another assumption, or to pivot.
“Real Options investment success lies in creating relative certainty at a low risk and cost,” adds White.
In addition, the guide looks at the need for organisations to keep a close eye on industry trends, to establish a close relationship with their customers in order to create unique experiences, and to adopt a lean enterprise model to be able to react to challenges quickly.