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Navigating the digital vortex

Preparing SAIT students and business partners for disruption

Preparing SAIT students and business partners for disruption

We're known for being home to the shapers, makers and originals - now we can add disruptors to that list.

Digital disruption — where traditional markets are transformed by new technologies — is a daily conversation at SAIT, says Raynie Wood, Dean, School of Information and Communication Technologies.

"It's not just about the job-takers, it's about the job-makers."

Recently, tech giant Cisco hosted the VECTOR conference at SAIT, where industry experts from the Global Centre for Digital Business Transformation (DBT) - a Cisco and Institute for Management Development (IMD) initiative - shared their digital disruption expertise with businesses in Calgary.

SAIT's lead social media contributor and strategist, Jill Purdy attended the event and shared her main takeaways:

Value triple play

In the new digital age, companies need to adjust their business models according to three values — cost, experience and platform, says Purdy.

"Instead of asking how we can be more disruptive, we should be asking how we can create value for our customers in new ways."

The most effective disruptors combine all three values. Purdy illustrates this using ride-sharing powerhouse Uber.

"In terms of cost value, Uber provides a lower fee per ride compared to traditional taxi companies. They improve user experience by allowing you to choose your vehicle and you can track your driver."
Uber's platform also adds value as an employment opportunity — it doesn't just add value for passengers, Purdy adds.

More than just tech

No industry is immune to the effects of digital disruption.

"On a list of the 14 most disrupted industries, media and entertainment is number one," she says. "The education sector is seventh."

One innovation can cause a ripple effect across numerous industries.

"A good example of this is the self-driving car," says Purdy. "First, it impacts the automotive industry, but then extends to insurance companies and the public sector — affecting transportation education and law enforcement."

Being responsive

It is important to be nimble in this new digital economy, says Purdy — and there are three ways for a business to implement digital business agility:

The first is hyperawareness — having the ability to detect and monitor changes in the environment.

"It's about looking at what competitors are doing in the market."

Organizations must also utilize informed decision-making when responding to digital transformations.

"Analytics and metrics are a great way identify the right decisions."

Third, it's important to carry out plans quickly and effectively — utilizing emerging technologies to do so, she adds.

Charting your course

Digital disruption seems like a daunting term, but disruption is not something to fear, says Purdy.

"Disruptors are not the enemy - we must work with them to bring in their capabilities into our own companies."

In addition to equipping tomorrow's disruptors, SAIT is preparing current businesses for the new digital age through courses and workshops like VECTOR.

"We're helping corporate partners understand digital disruption and how ready they are for digital transformation," says Wood. "We provide a range of educational solutions for their current workforce — including customized options."

For Wood, it's an essential conversation for organizations to have - and one SAIT wants to be a part of.

"Four out of 10 businesses will be displaced as a result of digital disruption — and the time to significant disruption is three years," she says.

"SAIT wants to help you chart your course as you navigate the digital vortex."


At SAIT, we know that emerging technologies are re-shaping our economy. In the age of digital disruption, businesses need to adjust their platform, experience and cost value.

Our team can help your organization prepare and assess its level of readiness for digital transformation — contact SAIT Corporate Training to learn more.


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