Digital Disruption – is it business as usual?

young white man staring a images of digital figure reflected on dark background in front of him

Is digital disruption just another organizational issue or a business change that needs managing? Does digital transformation have no firm endpoint and is just ongoing change? These questions and more were addressed by experts at the British Quality Foundation event, Digital Disruption – is it business as usual AXELOS’ Nick Wilding, General Manager – Cyber Resilience, was one of those experts and we captured the highlights of the discussion.

Nick WildingDigital disruption is ensuring that it’s not “business as usual” for companies and consumers as we approach the end of the 21st century’s second decade.

The BQF’s recent Digital Disruption event in London, featuring a variety of experts from start-up companies to multi-national corporates, reflected how fast and how far digital technology is changing business models and people’s lives.

Shamus Rae, Partner – Head of Innovation and Investments at KPMG, said a recent study by the company among CEOs identified more disruption to come in the next three years than the previous 50.

The consequences of that – on one hand – can be extremely positive for society (of which more later). But there are potential downsides still to be understood fully. For example, Rae quoted a Bank of England economist’s estimate that 15m jobs will “rotate” over the next few years. “That can’t be a good thing,” he suggested, with the example that digital disruption in banking would mean a loss of jobs through automation.

More alarming still is the concept of singularity. Rae described that as the future moment when artificial intelligence (AI) is such that computers are better than us in every way and would be the most intelligent beings on earth. This has prompted, according to Rae, an AI “arms race”, with £30bn being invested in AI this year alone.

So, where’s the good news about digital disruption?

Carole Layzell, Digital Eagle & Proactive Engagement Director at Barclays painted a more benign picture of how digital disruption is changing the way the bank engages with its staff, customers and communities.

She said: “Digital today is part of everything we do but there is a huge digital skills gap with 21% of UK adults lacking basic digital skills. The 35-54 age group is less confident with computer skills while the younger generation doesn’t understand the dangers of cyber crime.”

To address this gap, Barclays’ “Digital Wings” programme is about bringing together knowledge for Barclays people to learn more about digital. The success of this has encouraged the bank to make it available to the general public.

Now, Barclays’ so-called “Digital Eagles” – their 18,000 volunteer staff most engaged with digital technology – are working to address the digital divide.

And, in a number of local communities, Barclays “Eagle Labs” – based in either existing or former bank buildings – are giving local people the space and facilities to nurture and grow new, innovative ideas and even start new businesses. Great community relations, but does it equate to a financial return. Layzell said: “The digitally engaged customer is more likely to remain with the company and take on other financial products.”

Less work, more play

Another element of digital disruption affecting organizations and their interaction with staff and consumers is gamification.

Marcus Thornley, Founder of Play Consulting, said organizations are using gamification to drive engagement and behaviour change. This makes sense, as 60% of UK people play games at least once a month and the most popular online platforms – such as Facebook, LinkedIn and, yes, Tinder have highly gamified elements to them.

This means organizations should develop a “games mind-set”, which prioritizes the needs of the user, creates a “joyful” experience which encourages regular use and engagement, welcomes feedback and measures what matters to the business. Having levels to progress through, digital badges, leaderboards and challenges are each a building block for good gamification.

Thornley claimed that a gamified application designed for healthcare company, BUPA, meant 66% of users were healthier as a result of using it.

Darkness over digital disruption

While digital brings opportunities, it brings equal amounts of risk in the shape of cyber crime.

AXELOS’s Nick Wilding noted the disruptive capabilities of the cyber-attackers and attack groups that have introduced a whole new level of cyber risk and the need to manage that risk alongside digital transformation.

Barclays’ Carole Layzell shared the bank’s educational videos about using secure websites and creating strong passwords and noted that it’s DigiSafe campaign was promoting the importance of staying safe online and helping customers to be more savvy to scams.

Nick noted that organizations were investing in cyber security technologies in the mistaken belief that it provides the “silver bullet” to protect them from cyber-attacks.

He said: “As the majority of successful cyber-attacks are based on human error – people doing silly, naïve things – organizations need to put people at the heart of their response to cyber risk.

“Among UK SMEs, nearly 1m have been affected by a cyber attack in the past 12 months – and that’s just those who know! Almost one-third that suffered a breach said it affected their reputation; 93% said it affected their ability to do business.

“And yet, only 20% have provided any awareness learning to their staff in the past 12 months. Everyone has a role to protect what’s valuable and precious to their organization.”

Annual e-learning, Nick said, doesn’t work: “It’s as if we’re trying to programme people like computers. It doesn’t happen with people. Learning in this area is critical and companies need to stop talking in a technological language that people don’t understand. And people need to see the context rather than just telling them what the security policy is.”

AXELOS’s portfolio of cyber security awareness training and certification – RESILIA™ – offers best practice advice which shifts people from passive to collaborative and engaging learning. This is based on providing on-going, regular learning which is adaptive and personalized, relevant and valuable with measurable benefit.

Nick added: “People pay attention to leaders, so most organizations we work with get the buy-in of CEOs and leadership teams to show the importance of cyber security. This is also an opportunity to demonstrate that senior people are as vulnerable to cyber risk as everyone else.”

What next?

Visit to find out more and request a live demo of RESILIA Frontline cyber security awareness training developed by AXELOS Global Best Practice.

You can also download the event presentation slides to discover more insights from BQFs event ‘Digital Disruption - Is it business as usual?’.

Read our first blog post from the event, Digital Disruption – myths and realities.

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