An HBR report shows that half of the Fortune 500 companies have disappeared since the year 2000, either due to bankruptcy, acquisition, or ceased to exist as a result of digital disruption.
“The key in digital transformation is to identify the disruptive threats, and study the characteristics of organizations that have survived the past century,” said Djoann Fal, the CEO of GetLinks, a tech-hiring marketplace, at the ORIGIN Thailand conference by TechNode, held during the True Digital Park Grand Opening on September 19, 2019.
“A phenomena of innovate-or-die has emerged, and it is now a race of who can digitize faster,” said David Zhang, CTO of Eko, during a panel discussion moderated by Chalermyuth Boonma, the Head of Bootcamp and Community at dtac Accelerate.
Innovating through in-house or outsourcing?
“Corporates have to be clear on their long-term strategy and set the right framework as to how they want to collaborate with startups,” said Nattapat Thanesvorakul, the head of strategy and new ventures at corporate innovation accelerator RISE, adding that in-house innovation is the way to go for creating a long-term value within the company. “Corporates should also look beyond their in-house innovation team as some innovations are readily available in the market,” said Thanesvorakul.
However, for corporate’s in-house innovation team to succeed, Zhang emphasized the importance of a ground-up effort. “Encouraging autonomy with employees and at the same time ensuring that they accept responsibility for the work they do,” he added. Zhang also shared that corporates in-house innovation can happen even without a dedicated innovation department.
Fal lauded those product-first startups who focus on developing a great product and generating revenue before raising funds, as an example of how innovation has changed over time. “Corporates can play a part by supporting these product-first startups at the right time which will lead to venture capitalists noticing the value of these startups,” he added.
Staffing, leadership and cultural challenges
Staffing issue has always been an urgent and critical business issue. The need for strong leadership is a perennial challenge. “There is a big leadership skill gap and organizations have to acknowledge this in order to grow and produce great leaders,” said Fal. “Job hoppers are exhibiting strong innovator characteristic with a strong mindset and agility,” emphasizing that employers should not steer clear of job hoppers.
“There are two types of employees, one who optimizes his or her life for risk ownership and the other one who is risk aversion,” said Zhang. “What differentiates a $100K engineer from a $300K engineer is the leadership skill, the ability to take risks and hone the product.”
Thanesvorakul called on organizations to embrace China’s 996 hustling culture (9 am to 9 pm, six days per week), as a push to create more innovations and new inventions.
The future is now
The nature of work has fundamentally changed in the last decade and there is a clear consensus that changes are inevitable and constant. “Companies that understand this and are able to adapt quickly to changing landscape will survive,” said Fal.
“We are living in the age of increasing technological innovation where every industry is getting disrupted and every company will become a technology company in the next 20 years,” said Zhang. “Survival mode is what differentiates corporates from startups, and corporates, regardless of their industries, have to learn how to operate in survival mode,” said Zhang, noting that the first company to fully adapt to technology will dominate the industry.