Managing Disruption

By Jae Ahn, CEO & Chairman of the Board

In 2010, when Time Warner CEO Jeffrey L. Bewkes was asked what he thought about the startup Netflix’s push toward licensed content, he said:

“It’s a little bit like, is the Albanian army going to take over the world? I don’t think so…”.

In 2010, the on-demand Internet streaming media provider Netflix wasn’t seen as a disruptive threat to the monolithic entertainment industry. Yet today, Netflix has over 93 million subscribers, and is showing no slowing of growth. It has become a huge content creator, garnering over 150 awards, 707 nominations, including prestigious Emmy, Golden Globe, SAG, NAACP, Peabody and other major accolades of the broadcast industry.

It has become a major disruptor and player in the entertainment and technology world.

Disruption is a word that often evokes fear because it suggests a loss of control and ability to plan for the future. It’s particularly worrisome in business, which is not only the driver of disruption due to technology and innovation; business is also often the victim of disruption’s success.

Technology-driven disruption need not be seen as a threat; it can be, in fact, effectively managed.

Great technology matched with smart strategic thinking on how to apply technology is the key to managing disruption and making it work for your organization.

As business process management tools have matured, the scope of their capability has become richer and broader. Yet the key differentiator in how to best use this technology is the skill to develop a robust approach to apply its powerful capabilities.

Gone are the days where simply automating a work function solved your problem.

Gone are the days when out of the box solutions can meet business needs in a shape-shifting marketplace.

Gone are the days when resources were readily available. Efficiency is now the word from the top down.

The world and global markets are caught up in disruptive change, and so to win you first need a truly smart, informed approach that clearly identifies the root challenges to a business problem, and the creation of a strategic approach that will effectively exploit the best of new digital workflow solutions.

BizFlow successfully applied such a method recently, helping the Veterans Administration and a major health care provider unravel an enormous systems and service challenge that had created huge backlogs for U.S. veterans seeking VA medical care.

Before applying our powerful BPM tool, our team drew upon its years of business process management knowledge to think strategically on how to solve a number of major technical and management challenges that had hobbled the VA and other contractor’s efforts to streamline the providing of health care to vets.

The result was a dynamic suite of services, systems, and strategies that linked together disparate systems, legacy computers, processes and work cultures. BizFlow transformed a collage of challenges into an efficient, focused, and more intuitive health care provider environment.

How did this change scale? Productivity was doubled. The capacity to service veterans increased three-fold. Paperwork was cut by 90%. Accuracy and usability of critical medical information soared.

As a result, more vets could get to see more doctors faster, with their cases managed with greater accuracy, all while the system constantly monitored and improved its information base.

The key is that these great results did not come about by blindly applying a “one-size-fits-all” technology. Rather, these results came from strategically applying great technology through a structured, thoughtful problem defining and solving approach. Disruption was necessary; how to solve the problem, however, required careful thought and execution.

With increased scrutiny of government spending and the advance of new requirements and technology, the march of disruption will be relentless. We are even seeing disruption reach into the highest levels of our political and policy community today. It isn’t going to stop.

The choice is clear: either let your organization be dragged along by disruption in the marketplace, or you can grab disruption by the horns and manage it, focusing its potential toward your business and policy objectives, and own your future.

The tools are out there to do this; what is required is great judgment and smart thinking at the controls from the outset to make the best of the powerful capabilities at our fingertips today.

In the end, the outcome will seem less like disruption, and more like a familiar, and perhaps more friendly (and accurate) word: Progress.