Today’s lightning-fast business climate means that companies must either disrupt or be disrupted. The explosion of social media, mobile, big data, and cloud technology is sending shockwaves through every industry. Organisations that don’t want to be left behind need to adopt the habits of those companies that are leading the charge.

With the help of a managed hybrid IT provider, many of these simple and low-cost technologies have levelled the playing field, giving lean businesses the opportunity to effectively combine new technology with existing infrastructure to outflank more established rivals.

From startups to Fortune 500 enterprises, many of those that have succeeded thanks to disruption have some things in common. CenturyLink has identified the seven habits shared by the biggest disruptors:

digital disruptor, boss magazine1) Put the Customer at the Heart of Everything

Whatever size or industry, companies that have succeeded at harnessing the power of digital technology to reinvent their business have one overriding characteristic in common: they all put their customers first. They recognise that in the era of social media, consumers rule.

digital disruptor, boss magazine2) Create a ‘Fail Fast’ Culture of Innovation

Like most early-stage technology startups, digital disruptors cultivate a ‘fail early, fail fast’ culture. They recognise that the risk of doing nothing is far greater than the risks involved in failing from time to time while experimenting, learning, and innovating for long-term success.

digital disruptor, boss magazine3) Rely on Data-Powered Decision Making

There is no shortage of data for companies to collect these days. While many organisations hesitate to utilise big data, digital disruptors are quick to seize on all the data they can to measure, evaluate, and learn.

digital disruptor, boss magazine4) Tap Into the Power of the Crowd

Digital disruptors use online communities to tap into the knowledge and stoke the enthusiasm of their customer base. Crowdsourcing is a powerful form of market research that generates new product ideas, provides important product feedback, and helps companies forge closer connections with their customers.

digital disruptor, boss magazine5) Find a Technology Partner

Digital disruptors elevate the role of IT in the business. To augment their IT departments and gain access to the resources they need, they invariably employ outsourcing and look to forge close working relationships with one or more technology partners.

digital disruptor, boss magazine6) Team the CMO with the CIO

If a company aims to become a digital disruptor, its Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) needs to team up with its Chief Information Officer (CIO) to forge a technology-driven marketing strategy. It takes a champion within a company to be disruptive, and a lot of the time this starts with the marketer: the CMO cannot do it alone and needs to partner with the CIO.

digital disruptor, boss magazine7) Put Mobile First

Most disruptors, and especially brands that target younger consumers, have recognised that they increasingly need to reach their customers online through their mobile and handheld devices. Mobile-first is no longer just a strategy for digital brands. Regardless of the industry, any business desiring a strong online presence needs to consider how to make it accessible to its mobile-first customers.