Last week I went down to "Digital Shoreditch" - an event billed as "a unique community celebrating the outstanding creative, technical and entrepreneurial talent of London and beyond".
Now it may be that they were all lost among all the brogues and beards, but I didn't see many of my CIO colleagues there which was a little disappointing. Not because it's the only place to sample the startup vibe - that's not the case as there are many other vibrant communities all across the UK.
No, I guess I was disappointed because too many of my ex-colleagues still seem to think that this new wave of entrepreneurs and disruptors are not relevant to their industries or sectors. Indeed, there was an alarming number of CIO 100 submissions this year from people who didn't think the startup community even posed a threat.
Despite my natural inclination to think this was just startling naivety, I wondered if the real reason was the fact that many of these new entrants are simply operating at a pace and with a vocabulary that many CIOs are just not familiar with?
It's not a new phenomenon. It was the same in the first ecommerce wave of the 1990s (and is probably traceable back to the earliest innovation cycles) - people who have become successful at doing what they've always done rarely see or recognise the opportunities for disruptive change that new entrants recognise with laser-like clarity.
There is, however, a genuine power shift going on. In the past, startups both the UK and "the valley" were, to use a military metaphor, a bit like arms dealers - happy to ship their munitions so that others could load, aim and fire to enact business change. But now, they are fully-fledged commando units; armed to the teeth with new technologies, behaviours, and commercial acumen. This time round they're gunning for you and your markets - just take a look at what companies like Uber, AirBnB and Coursera et al have achieved in next to no time. These companies are already ready to pivot to find new opportunities yet you're still looking at your project plans.
So what can you do? The answer is simple - dive in, engage and learn. Work with new partners, try new tools and techniques, co-create, experiment and get experienced. As Jimi would say:
If you can just get your mind together
Then come on across to me...
Are you experienced?
Have you ever been experienced?
Well I have