How can companies deal with so-called “disruptive technology?”

Answer? Focus on customer experience.

Disruptive technology is the force that makes every company—whether big or small—re-evaluate its strategy for reaching out to valuable customers.

Robert Samuel of GT Australia said in a recent forum by Punongbayan and Araullo Grant Thornton entitled “Staying alive in the digital world,” the key is to let technology do its work.

Businesses should not fight it, rather let it work its magic on strategies, Samuel said.

“Technology is impacting everybody. There has been a lot of breakthroughs in disruption. It’s not new though. It’s been going on for a hundred years,” he said.

There are several ways to address digital disruption, he said.

“Respond to what clients really value. In order to grow and be successful, think differently on the way we see technology,” he said.

The Manila Electric Co., the country’s largest distributor of electricity, is not spared from the potentially adverse effects of digital disruption.

Thus, it embraced the benefits that technological breakthroughs can bring to the company.

Gavin D. Barfield, chief technological officer of Meralco, said Meralco, for example, made its monthly bills more transparent to the public, allowing them to take a closer look at what they actually pay every month.

Meralco also went online in a big way.

Viewing the bills as well as paying monthly dues were placed within easy reach of customers anytime, anywhere.

A steady stream of more innovative products and services should be explored once in a while so that the company would keep stride with the changing of the times, said Barfield.

Globe Telecom, meanwhile, has been at the forefront of technology since it sold its first mobile phone unit.

“But we are no longer selling cellphones nowadays. We are selling a lifestyle,” said Rebecca Eclipse, chief customer experience officer of Globe Telecom.

This entire lifestyle is anchored on the promise to keep everybody connected.

“Twenty years ago, our only ambition was to turn the cellphone into a wallet through G-cash. Today, everything centers around technology. But we don’t just develop products. We bear in mind that at the heart of each transaction is the customer. Never forget the customer,” she said.

She added, “You can buy technology. But what you cannot buy is heart.”

Eclipse shared that everything starts with language.

Each company must learn to converse with its clients.

“Create as many touchpoints on how your customers can communicate with you. Build omnichannels. It is important to be physically present,” she said.

She noted that most of Globe consumers, for instance, were comfortable using Facebook messenger and they use this instant messaging system to inform companies of any complaints.

Customers want answers to their queries immediately. They should not be allowed to wait, Eclipse explained.

Disruptive companies are indeed changing the rules.

But for Joel Garcia, server and tools group lead of Microsoft, employees should not be left out of the picture.

Companies must learn to leverage employees to gain scale.

He said education and constant learning would enable employees to contribute ideas that may help companies survive digital disruption.

It is in the harvesting of ideas where businesses can make the most of what they already have, he said.

Take the case of the emergence of cloud services and analytics and how companies are again taking stock of these developments and adapting them to their operations.

Why is the cloud so important for emerging markets like the Philippines?

It no longer needs physical structure. Both servers and storage can be accessed in less than five minutes. It gives ease in deployment of systems. More data can be stored to be evaluated in the future to better cater to consumers.

“Disruptive technology will continue to grow. Companies must man up. Provide better security to their data. Make cyber-security a top priority. Take it as an on-going investment for the future,” he said.

As published in Philippine Daily Inquirer dated 22 February 2016