Disruption is naturally uncomfortable, but apathy is worse—especially in the world of technology.
I love what I do at Accenture, especially understanding how companies work and then helping to make them better, more efficient and more productive. If you are willing to see the future beyond a point in time, it’s always more advantageous to stay ahead of the curve than wallow in the traditional.
I’ll give you an example. After finishing engineering school in 1990, I was working as a research scientist in a large tech firm building something we called a TCP/IP router. At the time, the internet as we know it wasn’t even born, but TCP/IP usage was exploding and mainframes were the primary “routers” for TCP/IP traffic. Our simple idea was to build a new device using “off-the-shelf” parts and custom hardware to route packets for about a quarter of the cost of the mainframe.
We built the router and brought it to leadership. That’s when we were told we didn’t understand the economics of the business—that we created something that would destroy mainframe upgrade paths and, in turn, an existing revenue stream. Corporate suspended the program, and the rest is history. In less than five years, the company was out of the networking business.
I learned a lot from this epic failure. You can never be afraid to challenge the norm. A defensive-only game never wins. Since then, I’ve focused my career on creating the “new”—finding ways of rethinking the norm and disrupting current ways for the better of businesses.
Challenging the status quo, however, is by no means an easy sell. My approach with clients is to present the opportunity, focusing on what it can be—the vision of the future for a business in 10 or 20 years. Take Microsoft, for example. Ten years ago, they were selling software by the box. By disrupting the norm, they quickly changed their entire business model to one that is cloud based. By looking beyond their comfort zone, they stayed ahead of the game and maintained their relevance to consumers.
Apple Pay is another example. Today, everyone knows how mobile payments work. But six years ago, nobody got it. When you said, “Tap your phone, and make a payment,” they’d bang their phone against a terminal. We realized people needed to “see” the credit card so, we created a prototype “wallet,” put an image of their card in the wallet, and people got it—they started placing the phone on the terminal. That was 2012. Today, that simple concept is the foundation of Apple Pay and Android Pay.
As I said, it’s no easy task to convince clients, or anyone, that change is a good thing. I start with the facts, upcoming trends and then ask questions about issues the business is facing in the future. And when those facts and questions come together, it’s an incredibly powerful way to change minds. Typically, it’s less about the future and more about making the future feel real today—making it visual, something you can touch and feel.
The best way to see the future is to create it. The future is not about protecting what we have now; it’s about inventing and delivering what it can be—and not being afraid to disrupt what’s existing. That’s the great thing about what I do. My career has been built on creative disruption—harnessing tectonic shifts in technologies to create new ways forward for businesses and industries. At Accenture, I plan to be even more disruptive—in a good way, of course.
Disrupt. Innovate. Make a difference with a career at Accenture.
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