When I saw the IBM slide below, I knew it absolutely nailed a message I have been preaching for the past few months. It went further. It totally smashed it out of the park.

It goes to the heart of the debate about how digital disruption cannot only fatally damage individual businesses, but can transform whole industries. And it’s early days. I can think of very few sectors that will be immune from the wave of digital disruption that we are beginning to see. When you add the wonderful world of robotics to the mix, you realise quickly that we have already entered the age of the Digital Revolution.

This IBM slide nailed it

This IBM slide nailed it

What really distinguishes the likes of Uber, Airbnb, and Facebook from past Industrial Revolutions is the pace of change. I remember Bill Reichert telling me when he was in New Zealand in May that Garage Technology Ventures had passed up an opportunity to invest early into Uber. Who in their right mind, he said, would invest in a startup which was illegal to operate at the time in almost 90% of US cities and metropolitan areas. Even the most experienced investors it appear can miss the boat on this tide.

It’s been an interesting time talking to major New Zealand corporates. It doesn’t really matter which sector they are in: FinTech, HealthTech, MediaTech. A tidal wave of digital disruption is approaching and some are still not really prepared for the impact. Part of the reason is that this disruption is not coming from the usual suspects; the established traditional incubents  It is coming from early stage technology companies developing not only new products but new disruptive services. Just check out that IBM slide again.

A couple of months back, Dell acquired EMC. I did not view this as a progressive move then. I don’t view it as one now. It reeks of a defensive action taken by two hardware incumbents who can already see the writing on the wall. I just did not and do not get the value proposition.

In my view, one of the best ways that New Zealand corporates can confront disruption is by embracing it. That means becoming corporate partners and sponsors with the country’s different incubation, acceleration and co-working space programs. It means working with startups and early stage companies who are exploring new technologies and new business models. This is not just defensive. It has the opportunity to present those corporates with real commercial advantage.

A great example of corporate partnering in action is the Plug and Play Tech Center Corporate Partner Program in Silicon Valley. I have watched it develop over the past two to three years where it has reached the point that it now drives many of the Accelerator Programs that Plug and Play host. It’s a win-win for the three key elements of the innovation ecosystem; entrepreneurs, investors and industry. With significant mentoring and partnering opportunities, the corporate partners have the opportunity to check out some of the most compelling and disruptive players on this planet.

There is of course an alternative. Order a latte, sit back and do nothing. And then wonder why that IBM slide signals not the end of the Digital Revolution, but its start.