Friday, April 26, 2013

Digital Disruption

Businesses are using the term, 'digital disruption.'  What does this mean?

The Digital Disruption Research Group (DDRG) at the University of Sydney is a joint initiative between the Business Information Systems and Work and Organization Studies disciplines, led by Kristine Dery and Kai Riemer.  Here is what my colleagues mean by digital disruption, from Kai Riemer's blog, bbr (backed by research).

What is disruptive about digital change?

"Our observation is that disruptive change is change that disrupts our understanding of the world.
Digital disruption changes the basis on which we make sense of, give meaning to and understand our business and work-life practices.

An example might illustrate this. The emergence of devices such as the iPad has changed fundamentally not only how we consume data and documents, how we communicate, how we learn and how we perform various business practices but also more fundamentally our understanding of what a computer or phone is, what counts as a workplace, or what an appropriate business meeting looks like. In consequence it has also brought about new professional identities such as that of the modern tech-savvy road warrior manager.

The nature and magnitude of these changes was hardly predictable when the iPad was released (it is worth googling and reading the commentary at the time). Rather, they are the result of continuous social sense-making and adaption processes.
We argue that digital disruption does not simply change markets, or present innovative business ideas (although that is one result).

Digital disruption is not merely the digitisation of an existing business model or the replacement with a digital alternative, such as putting University lecture content online or selling products through online shops. This is a far too limited understanding." (See more on: Kai Riemer's, 7 March 2013, bbr blog)

Monday, April 22, 2013

The future of work

This week I was interviewed about how to prepare graduate students to be 'business ready' when we know that the nature of 'business' is rapidly changing.  Indeed, the nature of work is changing.

Lynda Gratton of the London Business School has thought about this subject alot.  Her book, Shift and her  blog, The Future of Work, are focused on changes in the world of work -- what, how and why it will look different in the future.

Professor Gratton's TEDx Talk gives hints on how to prepare for jobs in the future.  She suggests:

1. Hyper-specialization: When the world is full of generic, superficial information, you can't compete with Wikipedia or Google, so focus, focus, focus on specific skills and knowledge.  I would add that 'context' is also important, so the killer app as it were are dynamic hyper-specialisation, those whose expertise can be communicated and applied to new problems and/or with new collaborators in new situations.

2. Collaborative skills: Coincidentally, this is one of things we are doing with our new graduate programme.  Your hyper-specialized knowledge and skills can only be maximised if you work and play well with others.

3. Creativity: In the future, work will still be the thing that gives us meaning in our lives.  And, work is most meaningful when we exercise creativity and play with the infinite possibilities available in a word which is far more interconnected than at any time in history.

And, now for something (that seems) totally different:
Reminding us in an amusing manner, why good is the enemy of great, in his TEDx Talk, Larry Smith tells us 'Why you will fail to have a great career'

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Related blogs and websites
I am using to share my academic papers.  Click here to go to my page.

Connectivity Scorecard
Orginally sponsored by Nokia Siemens, this is a great interactive resource that shows a 'connectivity score' for over 50 countries.  See how your country rates.  I sometimes use this as a conversation starter in my classes.

Information Overload Research Group (IORG)
This not-for-profit research network was founded in 1992 by Nathan Zeldes and contains loads of resources, including scholarly articles, around the predecessor condition and one of the main outcomes of hyper-connectivity.  Deeply useful and well-organised.  This group meets once a year to discuss issues associated with information overload.

Dynamics of Virtual Work: A European Collaborative Research Network
European network of researchers interested in studying virtual and other new forms of work and organization in an Internet age.  Includes conferences and workshops, as well as other research funding and resources.  Supported by Collaboration in Science and Technology (COST).

Nathan Zeldes
Founder of the Information Overload Research Group, thought leader and speaker, Nathan's website and blogs provide valuable insights into the issues facing individuals, teams and organizations in a digital age.

Backed By Research (BBR) - Kai Riemer's blog
Kai Riemer at the University of Sydney posts insightful observations, commentary and the occasional polite rant on the socio-technical world around us.  Well worth a read and/or following Kai as a thought leader.

The Future of Work
Lynda Gratton's blog considers a range of issues and opportunities associated with the evolving nature of work.  Well-crafted and thought-provoking, Professor's Gratton's insights hold general optimism coupled with critical reflection on multiple human dimensions of work and life in a digital age.

Learning On-line
If you're interested in on-line learning programs and resources, see the Online MBA site.  In a hurry?  The Minute MBA can give you a creative kick-start into a general or current business topic.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The cellphone turns 40

3 April 1973 -- Martin Cooper of Motorola makes the first call on a cellphone.  You can see his witty reflections on that fatal first mobile call (to his counterpart at ATT, who actually pioneered the concept of mobile telephony), the cellphone's impact on society and his vision of the future  in this CNN interview.

Cooper is right in saying that our lives have changed since the introduction of this device, but as Manuel Castells and colleagues suggest, it is not 'mobility' that makes the cell or mobile phone so powerful a tool, as they put it:

"The key feature in the practice of mobile communication is connectivity rather than mobility. This is because, increasingly, mobile communication takes place from stable locations, such as the home, work, or school.  But it is also used from everywhere else, and accessibility operates at any time.  So, while in the early stages of wireless communication it was a substitute for the fixed-line phone when people were on the move, mobile communication now represents the individualized, distributed capacity to access the local/global communication network from any place at any time.  This is how it is perceived by users, and this is how it is used.  With the diffusion of wireless access to the Internet, and to computer networks and information systems everywhere, mobile communication is better defined by its capacity for ubiquitous and permanent connectivity rather than its potential mobility (Castells, Fernandez-Ardevol, Qiu and Sey, Mobile communication and society: A global perspective. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007, p. 248) (emphasis added)." 

Back to Martin Cooper, his vision of the future has cellular/wireless devices continuing to evolve to be even more hands-free and embedded.  And, interestingly, in a sign of the times, the remote interview with Cooper in 2013 was conducted via Skype.

Update: May 2013
M.I.T.'s Technology Review suggests that the move to mobile business models is just beginning.  See article, 'Mobile Computing is Just Getting Started.'