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‘Digital disruption wasn’t caused by tech’: How businesses are innovating all wrong

Businesses focusing too much on tech are innovating wrong, says expert Neal Cross. (Source: Yahoo Finance)

Businesses bending over backwards trying to get ahead of competitors solely by investing in technology should save their energy, according to PictureWealth co-founder and former DBS Bank chief innovation officer Neal Cross.

Speaking to an audience at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit held in Sydney late last week, Cross argued that businesses had lost sight of their purpose and needed to “de-focus on the technology” and “re-focus on the human”.

“Digital disruption wasn't caused by the tech companies. It wasn't caused by technology,” he said.

“It was caused by … unhappy customers.”

Real disruption happens when a company creates a new, better way to make the customer’s life easier, Cross indicated.

“Every company's job is to solve their customers' problems. That is it. It's not to produce new products, it's not to grow, it's not to collect data. It's just solve your customers' problems.”

Disruption of this kind saw whole industries killed off entirely, Cross said. “It wasn't to do with technology. They found a better way.”

In this light, businesses laser-focused on technology with no aim are wasting their time.

“If digital disruption wasn't about technology, why are we focusing so much on technology to defend against digital disruption?”

Businesses should rethink their tech obsession and instead redouble their efforts in solving customer problems and empowering staff.

However, changing company culture can’t be forced, Cross warned.

“You cannot change a culture through mandation. I don't care what people say,” he said.

“You can't have metrics. You can't do KPIs with culture.

“Culture is like rubber. Imagine a sheet of rubber. That's your culture,” Cross said.

“You can't buy a culture, you've got what you've got. To stretch it to a new shape is through inspiration. You can't force it.”

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