AWS Cloud Enterprise Strategy Blog

Points of View: Surviving Digital Disruption

The AWS Enterprise Strategy team helps executives at large AWS enterprise customers with their nontechnical impediments to digital transformation and the cloud. We try to bring our experience as senior IT leaders, as well as what we’ve learned from helping other customers and from the IT thought leader community, to bear on the challenges faced by large enterprises as they try to thrive in the digital world. On this blog, we try to address some of the challenges that our customers consistently tell us they are facing. Since each of the strategists comes from a different background, we approach problems differently; we generally find ourselves in deep agreement on the core approaches that seem to work in the digital world, but we express ourselves differently depending on what we’ve seen and who we are.

One topic that comes up often—as you might imagine—is how to deal with digital disruption. Enterprises often find themselves surrounded by newer, smaller, and nimbler competitors who are changing the basis of competition in their industries. These disruptors seem to have a lot of advantages: they aren’t carrying around a legacy of older IT systems; they don’t have existing relationships with customers and partners that they have to maintain; and they don’t have policies and practices that are optimized for earlier ways of doing things. The question we often hear from enterprise executives is: How can we take advantage of our current position in the market to respond to this market disruption and make sure our company can not just survive but continue to thrive?

We thought it might be useful to our customers to hear this question answered from a few different points of view. So as an experiment, we asked four Enterprise Strategists each to independently write a piece on surviving digital disruption. Published here are their responses.

Surviving Digital Disruption: Transforming Without Rebooting, Gregor Hohpe

Surviving Digital Disruption: Back to Basics, Ishit Vachhrajani

Surviving Digital Disruption: Buy Yourself Some Options, Mark Schwartz

Surviving Digital Disruption: Resilience in the Face of Change, Phil Le-Brun

I think you’ll see that while each takes a different angle, there are a few central themes. Looking at them together, I see two key points emerging:

  1. Established enterprises have a huge advantage because they are already very good at something. In their digital transformations, they build on that competency. Trying to become “the next Netflix” is not usually a viable strategy.
  2. In an environment of fast change, organizational agility becomes a highly valuable asset. You don’t just want to respond to today’s disruption; instead, you want to become nimble enough to respond to what the market might throw at you tomorrow and the day after as well.

We tried this as an experiment to see if it would be useful to you, our readers. We would love to hear your feedback. We have now enabled the “Comments” function at the bottom of our blog pages, and we’d love to hear from you there. Our goal is to produce blog posts that are useful to you and your feedback will help us do that.

Twitter | LinkedIn | Blogs

Mark Schwartz

Mark Schwartz

Mark Schwartz is an Enterprise Strategist at Amazon Web Services and the author of The Art of Business Value and A Seat at the Table: IT Leadership in the Age of Agility. Before joining AWS he was the CIO of US Citizenship and Immigration Service (part of the Department of Homeland Security), CIO of Intrax, and CEO of Auctiva. He has an MBA from Wharton, a BS in Computer Science from Yale, and an MA in Philosophy from Yale.