While the world saw rapid technology disruption as an immediate solution to deal with the crisis, the sustainability quotient has come to the forefront with the need for more future-focused goals. Let us delve into the need for a more balanced approach towards innovation:
Defense mechanism isn’t just a psychological response; it practically exists for everything! But the behavior is so ingrained in us that often we don’t realize how we act under its influence.
Let us talk about a very practical example of it that our IT industry generated in recent times:
‘Technology disruption,’ ‘Digital Disruption,’ or ‘Disruptive Innovation’ are terms we have gradually acclimatized to in the sphere of Digital Transformation, largely in the post COVID world. It would take some reflection to do in order to realize if we viewed disruption in such a positive light before the pandemic had sunk its teeth in our lives and businesses.
The uncertainties that our markets faced in the wake of COVID-19 prompted the global IT scape to lunge forward and embrace massive disruption in the name of innovation. When we talk about Disruptive Innovation, we mean reinventing a technology or a business model in a way that is beyond the market’s expectations. Disruptive innovation creates new markets and values by identifying new categories of customers, enhancing the quality of existing markets, and lowering costs by practically exploiting old technology in new ways.
This is where the innovator’s dilemma sets in! Opposing disruption at this length is ‘Sustainable Innovation’ which aims at improving existing technology it does not seek to create new markets or technology values but aims at improving existing solutions. The dilemma here is to do the same in a slightly better way or doing the new. What most CIOs are failing to grasp is the fact that both sustainable innovation and disruptive innovation can co-exist! They aren’t business alternatives but complementary measures.
The global development pressure is mounting with every passing day and is arising as a palpable challenge towards the tech world’s transition to sustainability. Why industry leaders are predicting a gradual shift in the way the modern workplace is developing, the presence of disruptive technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain, Cloud Computing, Internet of Things (IoT), Immersive Technology, Big Data, and Data Analytics are constantly leading new products, services, business models and thereby markets.
The Need to Demystify the Impact of Disruptive Technologies
While it is considered that Disruptive and Sustainable Technologies are competitors, do we ever speculate on the kind of opportunity the former has brought about in our way to improve sustainability? Yes, disruptive technologies are a threat to traditional business models, but they also carry with them a better understanding of emerging technology which actually enables us to measure their impact when we think about creating positive business transformations.
However, as the world moves towards rapid technology adoption, there has been an alarming rise in electronic waste being generated. A study by Statista mentions that only in 2019, the world generated a 21% high amount of e-waste, which rounded up to a massive 53.6 million metric tons. Since customer demands have been pretty unpredictive for quite a span now, the global markets have also witnessed a rapid shortage of raw materials. Also, our growing dependence on Data Analytics has contributed to high carbon footprints in data centers across the organizations. All of these imbalances now call for an enhanced e-recycling process through sustainable frameworks.
Challenges Posed by Disruptive Technology
Although global IT systems have lunged forward with their might in the rapid adoption of disruptive technology, we have abstained from assessing the palpable impacts that they might leave on our tech spaces. The most unnerving part is that we still do not have any defined metrics to weigh the impacts that this rapid adoption (which was required at the moment) has brought about.
We have identified a handful of such impacts:
- Cognitive Assurance: Although these disruptive technologies have seeped into our systems, there is still an air of mistrust around them when it comes to ensuring digital ethics. The AI bias still rules in the case of these emerging technologies, and IT facilitators need to bring about more scalable, transparent and secure versions to ensure digital protection.
- Accountability: Because of their wide and fast acceptance, disruptive technologies still lack benchmarking and evaluation standards. The wider recognition they are enjoying demands that they uphold accountability and a high degree of performance.
- Collaborative Models: The global exchange models are flawed when it comes to emerging technology. When it comes to the viability of a solution, a healthy and collaborative information exchange model is the demand of the hour so that every speck of the IT fraternity is benefitted.
- Tech Training: The more the tech adoption rates tend to grow, the more IT forces need to be trained to bring about the diversity of thought and innovation. It firms need to keep up their pace with available technology with strategic changes in order to improve their sustainability.
- Tech Infrastructure Planning: In order to transition into a long-term sustainable digital economy, there needs to develop a stakeholder agreement between tech companies and end-users and between several departments of these tech firms.
The Need for Change
Let’s give you a very recent and practical example of why need a shift of perspectives:
In recent times it has been reported that when it comes to the custom software development services and implementation of technology, there has been a visible lapse of values. Facial recognition is one widely used technology used in most of our portable gadgets these days. However, there have been claims that ethnic minorities have reportedly not been able to access the technology at several corners of the world. This is one classic case in which the spirit of collaboration has visibly disintegrated while data and process quality has been let down.
Breakthrough innovations have been building several positive impacts at scale by merging technology, sustainable models of business, and new mindsets. However, along with booming opportunities, they are also accompanied by a host of environmental and health risks. The facilitators of the digital economy who work with disruptive technology understand the impact these tech footprints are having on the economy and society as a whole. Thus, it becomes essential that architects of sustainable technology are able to assess and identify the technologies that can best support the transition back to sustainability. There’s also this growing need to identify the sustainability issues that have a chance of emerging from disruptive technology.
At the core of sustainability is the value of resilience and the capacity to bounce back from concerns. Sharing technology and data assimilation can actually help IT firms develop the right contingencies and enable taking effective decisions based on real-time data to protect tech users and mitigate the impact of digital disasters.
Probable Actions to Ensure Sustainability
A list of core actions pertaining to innovation, systems thinking, and collaboration skills can enable the IT world’s transformation to sustainability. Employing these actions, technology developers can actually integrate disruptive technologies that support the required transition towards sustainability:
- Identifying market drivers to analyze key opportunities and risks: The more an IT firm assesses the business landscape, the more will it have an idea on how to strategically disrupt itself and the impact of technology to develop a future-proof approach that is resilient to change in order to stay ahead of their competition.
- Creating iterative short-term plans can upskill management perspectives and imbibe sustainability skills required for integrating relevant disruption within the organization.
- Encouraging a cyber security culture that extends over mere information exchange when leveraging technology.
- Establishing a more sustainable value of disruptive technologies by encouraging data exchange models through collaborative approaches.
- Agreeing to a circular economy approach and systems thinking when integrating disruptive technologies.
To conclude this debate about the viability of disruptive technology, we must first realize the potential of disruptive green technology. Green technology investors are more eager to invest in firms that have the capability to disrupt their industries, as well as generate positive financial and environmental footprints.