The impact of digital disruption

“A skills shortage in the face of growing digital disruption is helping drive a step-change in the client-supplier relationship, with successful partnerships focused as much on sharing knowledge and skills as managing project requirements,” says Benno Wasserstein, Managing Director at software consultancy Box UK.

The extent of digital’s disruptive potential has been highlighted in the latest Harvey Nash CIO survey, which reveals that only one in ten CIOs believe their organisation will remain unaffected by digital disruption in the coming years. More than a third of CIOs say they are responding to this disruption now, with a similar number expecting to have to manage it within 24 months. These findings are supported by research from CA Technologies and Freeform Dynamics, which found that 56% of UK respondents are executing digital transformation as a coordinated strategic programme – and that profit growth is two and a half times higher among these organisations than those who are only making an average investment in digital transformation.

“Achieving the speed needed to successfully execute these strategies – capitalising on new opportunities and reacting to changing customer needs –  can, however, prove challenging,” Benno continues. “A third of CIOs cite a lack of vision as the biggest obstacle they face in this area, and poor understanding of digital and insufficient critical skills also feature high on the list. This latter point is a particular concern for many CIOs, with 59% reporting that they’re facing a skills shortage and a staggering 90% having ‘some’ or ‘great’ concern about holding on to their best staff.

Balancing visibility and flexibility

“With development skills one of the fastest growing areas of demand, many organisations are choosing to outsource their web and software projects. This does bring with it its own set of issues though, as software development has become increasingly commoditised, and it can be difficult for organisations to accurately judge the expertise and experience of potential suppliers. Consequently, they may find themselves sold on an initial promise, yet end up with an inferior quality product.

“To mitigate this risk, we’re seeing more and more organisations creating onerous up-front commercials; creating a fixed-price, fixed rate landscape but still anticipating an Agile delivery. However, while this approach may make development teams more accountable to the bottom-line, in reality it doesn’t help safeguard the quality of the final deliverables, and can often actually hinder performance.

“At Box UK, by contrast, we address the issue by conducting in-depth discovery activities at the outset of a project, while operating within a delivery framework that allows for iterative, feedback-driven development. This gives our clients visibility of and confidence in the project’s scope before committing significant budget and also, crucially, provides the flexibility needed to adapt solutions in response to evolving user needs, business goals and market conditions.”

Sharing digital skills

The trust and understanding fostered through this kind of client-supplier relationship also enables third-party development teams to function as a valued source of knowledge; a model that is growing in popularity according to the Harvey Nash survey. Many IT leaders now see outsourcing not just as a means of saving on cost, but as a valuable way of acquiring new skills, with half of CIOs revealing that they have increased their dependence on partners in order to access skills not available in-house and free up internal resources.

“The trend towards collaborative long-term partnerships is one we’re seeing reflected in Box UK’s own operations, as our clients increasingly look to us to provide insight into technological best practice and industry innovations, as well as for implementation expertise. We’ve helped  many leading organisations define their digital strategies, through the delivery of user experience and discovery services, and we continue to extend and enhance our team to ensure that we’re equipped to keep up with growing demand for these kinds of projects.”

Find out more

For more information on the ways in which Box UK can help your organisation, please get in touch with a member of our team. For interviews with Benno Wasserstein about the Box UK business, please contact