No Australian company will be spared the effects of digital disruption, but there are some common strategies employed by top firms to exploit the opportunities it presents.
This is one of the key takeouts from the CXO Challenge, a 12-month study of how 50 CXOs from ASX 200 organisations are dealing with their businesses being disrupted.
The study, which is now available as a book called The Executive's Guide to Navigating Digital Disruption, is being launched nationally at a series of roadshows.
At the Sydney roadshow, executives including ANZ CTO Patrick Maes, Echo Entertainment CIO Kel Telford, NSW Office of Finance and Services strategic policy executive director Dawn Routledge, and Telstra's director of capability and innovation Michael Ossipoff shared their experiences with digital disruption and how they are handling its effects.
One of the common themes is the idea that disruption would spare no business, and therefore ignoring it wasn't an option.
Telford said the casino industry was being disrupted by online gaming players, and used his CXO profile to discuss how Echo would try to get a slice of the increasingly lucrative online market.
"If we don't keep up with what's happening in the online space, we'll turn out to be like a Blockbuster," he said.
Ossipoff said digital disruption was "not a case of if, but how and when. There's not a single organisation that won't be subject to it."
Another common theme was the way organisations are trying to understand and harness the power of digitally disruptive influences - by looking to "ecosystems" to help with the transition.
"We're trying to build strong ecosystems because we strongly believe that the challenges we as an industry have, we cannot solve it ourselves," Maes said.
"Only when we create very strong ecosystems with the universities, startups, venture capital companies and other partners, we make a chance to prepare ourselves for the digital age."
Ossipoff agreed: "Not all the good ideas or staff will be inside your organisation. If you look purely within your organisations you miss them."
Routledge said the NSW Government had looked externally to see how other governments had dealt with disruption.
"We talk a lot about digital government and there's some really good global examples of countries that are really doing things in a very different way," she said.
"The NSW Government has really been focused over the last several years on designing services with the customer in mind. ServiceNSW is a very visible example of that."
Culture vs climate
Much of the talk in industry to date has been around the need to establish a culture of innovation in organisations - but Ossipoff flagged some concerns with this approach.
"A lot of companies run around trying to develop an innovation culture, but from what I can work out of an innovative culture is [that] it takes years and years to bake it in," he said.
"I think a better bet is to try and create a climate where it's easy to participate."
Ossipoff said Telstra used the Yammer app and hackathons as forums to gather ideas from across the organisation.
"The ideas that get picked up can be funded by others inside the organisation," he said.
"Many tremendous ideas have actually come from our staff by simply having the climate set properly, as opposed to trying to establish this culture where thou shalt be innovative.
"So creating a climate where its easier to share ideas becomes natural."
One example of a successful idea from this approach was the pink 'hats' that adorn Telstra pay phones and other infrastructure, denoting the presence of a Telstra Air wi-fi- hotspot.
"The pink hats for Air idea came from an employee, not management or marketing," Ossipoff said.
The CXO Challenge roadshow next visits Canberra (Wednesday 9th September), Melbourne (Thursday 10th September) and Perth (Thursday 17th September).