(Part one in a three-part series)

Call it digital disruption, call it innovative disruption, or call it an algorithmic economy—but it’s clear that innovation continues to quicken at a breathtaking clip, with technology a key accelerator in the equation. An increasing number of us find little difference between work and personal life—we’re constantly connected – that’s where the digital world is headed. Businesses and consumers are getting closer all of the time, driven in part by their use of applications and cloud.

This is creating chaos not only for technology innovators, but also for their partners that provide solutions built on their platforms, and for the end customers who use them. It’s an exciting time for everyone involved in the shift to modern applications, as cloud has drastically improved the speed to market of new applications.

As this shift happens, the role of IT or a partner who provides or manages IT, has never been more important, pushing them to deploy applications and provide end user access even more quickly, so businesses run more efficiently.

The innovation cycle; automation of manual work

The innovation cycle has a tendency to cause disruption within organizations, and even among technology providers. Specifically:

  • Innovation leads to the automation of what was previously manual work;
  • When innovation eases off the throttle, the technology becomes commoditized and the manual tendencies return;
  • Then the innovation cycle begins again.


  • During a time of innovation, generalists are often preferred over specialists, because they tend to be open and adapt better to change;
  • During lulls in the innovation cycle, you tend to rely on your specialists while your generalists, choose a niche to specialize in.

As companies move to the cloud, some may only see jobs being lost, often those who are less open to change. In reality, it’s a stark reminder to the IT industry of how innovation starts to automate manual work. And cloud is just like any other powerful innovative technology—its success depends on who is using it. Those tasked with its rollout and its implementation need to understand and be open to its advantages and strengths. Otherwise, you won’t leverage cloud to its full potential.

Let’s take a look at Exchange as an example

Take this typical scenario. Exchange administrators have traditionally spent the lion’s share of their time on managing the Exchange environment and keeping the lights on. Now, with their employer’s move to the cloud, they’re suddenly:

  • Providing insights and analytics on usage;
  • Empowering the business to make smarter decisions;
  • Improving collaboration;
  • Securing data;
  • Providing enhanced security; and
  • Ultimately improving the end-user experience.

They’re able to transform their role from an Exchange administrator focusing on maintenance to a business analyst, spending more time enabling the business by using cloud-based automation for more manual tasks.

Similarly, on the infrastructure side, IT has traditionally spent a lot of time building out servers, storage and compute capabilities. Transformation to the cloud means that same IT professional is now devoting much of his or her time monitoring, optimizing, and addressing business problems, instead of building out capacity.

The bottom line is that cloud is making IT more proactive in better enabling the business.

Adapting and embracing the possibilities

This tighter integration between IT and business, is encouraging these groups to learn what the other is doing, and make smarter business decisions as a team. Clearly, the role of IT is not going away, instead it’s evolving. It’s really about how you adapt to the change and embrace the possibilities that innovation brings to the business.

Selling in IT has transformed from traditional product sales (specialists) to solution sales (generalists) during innovation cycles, to better understand business needs and design solutions that automate manual work and empower business agility and market innovation. Similarly, enterprise digital transformation is shifting talent and recruitment towards contemporary business cultures, fluidity, cross-functional learning, intelligent behavior and empowering motivated talent.

Is your business transforming quickly enough?  In a digital age, the winners take all.

52% of Fortune 500 firms since 2000 are gone! – Gartner

(In part two of our three-part Innovative Disruption series, we’ll discuss the impact SaaS has on the evolving roles of the MSP and IT, and managing the complexity of a blended environment.)

Read part two: Innovative Disruption: The Software Evolution, Blended Roles and Managing Hybrid IT

Read part three: Innovative Disruption: Surviving and Thriving By Managing the ‘Cloud Handshake’