Geoffrey Moore on Disruption

In a recent Post, Geoffrey Moore expands his Systems of Engagement (SOE) vision to focus on disruption. Many by now are familiar with his views on SOE and next generation edge architecture. Mr. Moore describes a future dominated by Social and Mobile on the client side and Analytics and Cloud on the server side. In this recent piece, the focus broadens to include the inevitable disruption facing every industry. In doing so, he introduces a new Systems of Business (SOB) concept and provides some examples that highlight the differences between SOB and SOE. These examples help visualize a distinction that Mr. Moore is making between these two systems: systems of engagement instantiate new operating models, while systems of business instantiate new disruptive business models.

I’m encouraged by the increasing focus on the true disruptive and transformative period that lies ahead. I continue to believe that no industry or company will escape this emerging period unscathed, and every company must find a path to future viability. In this context, Mr. Moore paints a somewhat grim picture for traditional companies trying to find their path. He believes the challenges of systems of business make it virtually impossible to incubate them inside an established enterprise. We’ve seen evidence of this in previous disruptive periods, as new business models formed in entities separate and distinct from the traditional business. But these disruptive scenarios are and will emerge at an increasing pace. How does a Life Insurance company that wants to play in the Connected Health ecosystem handle this without being rejected by the antibodies that Mr. Moore describes? The revenue and growth implications of Life Insurers force them to look at emerging disruptive scenarios as growth platforms. In doing so, they create an ability to interact with customers on a much more frequent and impactful basis.

Another challenging area of focus in the post is the balance between realizing the societal benefits of innovations like autonomous vehicles, and the protectionism that Mr. Moore describes. Clearly, traditional companies will and must protect their current interests. But as we have seen in the media industry, it’s a failed strategy in the long term. Additionally, the societal benefits of disruptive scenarios (the smart home, connected health, smart cities, autonomous vehicles, etc.) can be delayed or completely derailed if Government and business make it their mission to block these innovations.

Geoffrey Moore provides a possible bridge between the world of traditional companies and disruptive scenarios. That bridge – Deploying Systems of Engagement that leverage legacy assets – still evades most executives. Mr. Moore provides another compelling reason to move towards Holistic systems of engagement: developing the foundation for emerging systems of business. The movement away from isolated digital initiatives towards systems of engagement must go from little understood vision to mission critical agenda.

2 thoughts on “Geoffrey Moore on Disruption

  1. I received this earlier this week and saved it for my Saturday morning reading. The protectionism of which you speak can be a good thing if it’s measured in the context of managing change, but when protectionism takes a negative turn is when businesses protect the status quo. Very dangerous. Great post as always Frank.


    • Agreed Heidi. Regulation that protects workers in a sharing economy for example can be a good thing. Companies blocking the possible lives saved by the driverless car to protect their bottom lines on the other hand is a failing strategy. It may protect their revenue base for a while, but it gives them a false sense of insulation from the disruption coming – we can take a lesson from the Music industry.


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