We’ve heard the term ‘digital disruption’ bandied around in recent years, but what does it actually mean to businesses when engaging with stakeholders and maintaining and building relationships?

Digital disruption refers to new and innovative ideas and technologies that are changing the way industries operate, often rapidly.

For example retailers who have shifted their business models to accommodate the meteoric rise of online purchasing. Or the growth of online entertainment providers such as Netflix who, through technology, have shifted the way entertainment is provided and consequently changed consumer patterns.

While the word ‘disruption’ may insinuate a problem, what is really being described is a movement or permanent change to the way business operates that can lead to benefits for the business and its stakeholders.

So how does a business who is in the throes of digital disruption better engage with stakeholders, especially when it is happening at lightening speed?

By keeping it real, encouraging input and communicating every step of the way.

If left in the dark, stakeholders may react poorly to what is perceived as a reduction in service quality, inability to communicate, and lack of understanding of their needs.

A business can turn these perceptions around by focusing on mutual benefits such as how new technologies can improve the way the business operates and lead to better service delivery and improved relationships.

Digital disruption can provide businesses and stakeholders with more touchpoints and the ability to engage in more effective two-way communication. Fundamentally, stakeholders need to feel informed, engaged and empowered.

These stakeholders are more likely to remain loyal and accept change. They are also more likely to walk away with a product, service or outcome that they want.

Using online tools and social media to encourage public discourse is the perfect example of how digital disruption provides organisations with leverage to better engage with stakeholders. The more stakeholders are aware and understand the processes, the better informed and more accepting of change they will be.

For a business, digital disruption means:

  • Ongoing communication that speaks the right language using the right tools
  • Being aware of what stakeholders want and realising they have greater control in the products and services they seek
  • Providing a product or service that stakeholders expect in a changing market
  • Remaining competitive and providing the opportunity for growth
  • Keeping ahead of competitors by being digitally savvy and ready for change

The key point to remember is that change is inevitable, particularly in the digital world. It is how a business goes about evaluating and developing its engagement and communication practices in changing markets that is the ultimate test.