There are five digital forces disrupting business today, says Oracle’s Jon Paul (video)

26 Mar 2015

Five forces of mobile, social, cloud, analytics and big data are disrupting businesses and leaders are under pressure to narrow the gap between skills and processes, says Oracle regional director Jon Paul.

“Disruption has been happening in the marketplace for years if you think about the horse-drawn carriage market that was disrupted by Mercedes-Benz when they invented the car so this is something that has been happening for years and years and years, what is new is the digital aspect of disruption,” Paul explained.

Tech giant Oracle has been at the heart of the digital revolution since its founder Larry Ellison founded the company in 1977.

Future Human

However, last year co-CEO Mark Hurd pointed out that 80pc of IT costs are spent just keeping the lights on.

In the intervening years we have seen revolutions in mainframe, personal computers, client/server, the internet, mobile and social. Now every worker is a digital worker who can draw on any number of technologies or devices to do their job.

Embrace the revolution

Rather than making things easier, the rapid pace of business has resulted in firms struggling to make decisions, gain insights and find the people who can spot the next waves of disruption.

“What we define as digital disruption is anything that is driven by digital, a new business process or a new customer model that’s driven by digital technology.

There’s a grouping of forces coming together at the moment – social, mobile, analytics, cloud and big data and that is generally how we would define digital disruption.

“Here at Oracle I like to think this is business as usual for us. We’ve been bringing innovative products to market for many, many years now, we’ve been investing very heavily in R&D and whilst we are going through a big change in the industry this is something we’ve seen before.”

Paul provided examples of how traditional brands are equipping themselves for the digital age, such as sports clothing giant Nike which has moved into wearable computing technologies with devices like Nike Fuel.

More locally Paul cited Shop Direct which runs the Littlewoods brand in Ireland and the UK.

“They have moved from being a catalogue producer where you would write orders down on a form to moving entirely online. What they are now looking to do is look to the next move.

“A big problem for anyone selling online is the challenge of a return – how do you deal with a return because you then absorb the cost of that and in a small margin business that is a challenge.

“They are now looking at using smartphones and imaging to capture pictures of you and allow you then while you are shopping to look at yourself online and that’s a great selling tool for the customer but also a tool for them in that they reduce the returns and the cost of those returns. So there’s again, it will allow them to drive better promotions, better costs, better pricing to their customers.”

“If you look at the telcos they are losing business to organisations like Whatsapp that are providing over-the-top messaging services. Whatsapp as an organisation was sold for US$19bn with 55 employees. Think about that. It’s a huge amount of value that is being taken away from the telcos by a relatively small amount of people providing a new and innovative service.

It is critical for a business to be able to adapt

Paul pointed to a recent survey that found 73pc of executives claimed to have a strategy for digital but only 15pc had the right skills and processes in place.

“That’s a huge gap between those with a plan and those that have the skills and processes. People are aggressively trying to narrow that gap and be ready.”

Paul said that companies are looking to adopt digital processes to help them make decisions to quickly keep up with changes in the marketplace.

“That idea of converting data into value, being agile, continuously developing, those are concepts organisations need to really truly understand before they can try and work in this digital world.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years