You won’t find the term ‘We Economy’ anywhere in a new report from Optus Business, entitled Smart Disruption: A perspective on innovation for Australian organisations, but the conclusions in the Optus report are remarkably close to the ideas espoused by proponents of the We Economy.
The Optus report is a qualitative study exploring how established and ‘born-digital’ organisations in Australia are approaching business transformation. It is based on a survey of 25 senior decision makers – including CEOs, CIOs, CXOs and CDOs – from, according to Optus “Some of the country’s most prominent established and digitally native organisations.”
The report claims to provide “a framework all organisations can use – regardless of heritage, size and industry – to achieve success in this new era of business.”
The executive summary of the report says: “Enterprises of all sizes, government departments and agencies right across Australia are all dealing with unprecedented disruption.” No surprises there.
Nor in the initial conclusion: “The best response to this disruption has to be innovation.” However, the report then goes on to say: “What’s emerged from our research is the need for organisations to embrace a new mindset of collaboration and partnership. Creating an environment where learnings are freely shared will prepare businesses to more readily respond to – and anticipate – changing customer needs and enable them to jointly build new business models.”
To disrupt smartly, collaborate
This conclusion is what gives the report its title.
The Optus report describes the similarities and differences between how established organisations and new ‘digitally native’ organisations approach transformation. It also highlights a desire across both groups to create collaborative partnerships and to learn from one another’s strengths and experiences. It argues that partnering for mutually beneficial outcomes can ensure the longevity of Australian organisations at all stages of their transformation journeys, as well as the future stability of the economy.
“Smart disruption involves organisations of all shapes and sizes sharing transformation insights and experiences to create mutual value. Establishing collaboration-ready business models is critical to achieving and scaling innovation to adapt to constant digital disruption.”
This conclusion is remarkably similar to the idea of the We Economy. That idea was promoted, but not originated by, Accenture in its Technology Vision 2015, its annual outlook of global technology trends.
Accenture found that leading companies had already begun using technology to transform themselves into digital businesses and were focusing on combining their industry expertise with the power of digital to reshape their markets. Again, no surprise there.
Industry boundaries will blur
However, Accenture said: “These businesses see great potential to make a difference – and a profit – by operating as ecosystems, not just as individual corporate entities, and driving the emergence of the ‘We Economy’.”
Accenture said it had confirmed the idea of the We Economy through a global survey of more than 2,000 IT and business executives, which “found that four out of five respondents believe that in the future, industry boundaries will dramatically blur as platforms reshape industries into interconnected ecosystems.”
Sixty percent of those surveyed said they planned to engage new partners within their respective industries, 40 percent said they planned to leverage digital partners outside their industry and 48 percent said they planned to engage digital technology platform leaders.
New born-digital businesses have cultures radically different from large established organisation so these collaborations will not be easy, but they will no doubt create plenty of opportunities for ‘match-making’ business consultants.
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