Disrupt Sydney 2016 – Not to Take Anything for Granted 

Q&A with SWOOP Co-Founder Dr Laurence Lock Lee after attending and presenting at “Disrupt Sydney” on 23 September, 2016. Disrupt Sydney is a one-day annual conference organised by the University of Sydney which aims to discuss and debate (digital) disruption.

What is digital disruption and why is it important for organisations? 

Here is the definition used by the event organisers:

“Digital disruption refers to changes enabled by digital technologies that occur at a pace and magnitude that disrupt established ways of value creation, social interactions, doing business and more generally our thinking” 

This event is in its 4th Edition and was big news at its initiation. In his introduction, the founder of the event Prof. Kai Reimer bemoaned the fact that the term has since been ‘hijacked’ by mainstream media, declaring just about anything as a digital disruption. But the strong attendance suggests that many of us are excited by the potential for significant change to the status quo, whatever the label.

Can you share any conference tips to leverage digital disruption?

I think the biggest tip would be “not to take anything for granted!” We had several speakers challenge the audience with findings from their own research and experiences. Statements like “Brainstorming meetings are a waste of time”, “Open offices are bad for you”, “Multi-discipline teams don’t work”, “Games make failure fun”, “It’s very difficult to live in the share economy “, “Blockchain claims are all lies”; kept us on our toes.

How will you implement any of the learnings at SWOOP?

I co-facilitated a workshop session on “Disrupting Traditional Business Intelligence Systems with Social Data”. My claim was that traditional data warehouse based business intelligence systems had changed little since the 1970s and were costly to build and of questionable value; and therefore ripe for disruption. My disruptive proposition was that we should move the emphasis to the execution stage, using social analytics to monitor whether insights were engaging the collaborators required to take an action. We had 4 teams work through their disruptive ideas covering the full scope of BI. Some key points that I took away were firstly that no piece of intelligence will be universally accepted by all, no matter how robust the intelligence gathering process is. The Climate Change debate was mentioned as proof of that! The second is that in order to engage disinterested stakeholders we may need to employ some gamification tactics. Both of these points reinforce the directions we are taking with SWOOP via the use of gamification to better communicate our social analytics messages.

Who was your stand out presenter and why?

Well to be fair the question should be “other than Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki ”. Of course Dr. Karl is a recognised national treasure for his abilities to communicate about science. He even did a reasonable job of trying to explain Blockchain…the biggest technological black box in history!

I liked Claire Marshall’s talk on her experiment with living in the share economy in London for a full month! She met some tremendous ‘giving’ people but found it hard to earn a living through the freelancing sites. Basically it was hard work to win and then do the work; for not much.

What was most exciting for you to hear?

Of all of Dr. Karl’s stories, the one I remember most was something about Russian submarines surfacing from under Arctic ice for 30+ years at the same time and place. They were able to support the climate change claims based on the thickness of the ice that they had to break through each year, getting less and less.

Stand out conference insight

I was excited to hear a detractor for Blockchain. As we know Blockchain is the next ‘big thing’ and there was a panel on non-financial uses of Blockchain. Dr. Karl facilitated the session and tried to simplify the concept for the audience. But in the end it sounded like you needed to be a mathematical geek to make any sense of how it could work. The detractor was an acknowledged ‘Mathematical geek’. I’m not that fond of ‘black box’ solutions as you can see.

What other question would you ask yourself?

None. You’ve done a great job!

Anything else you’d like to add?

Only that this has been my first time at the event, and will definitely be back next year. Perhaps with a story from the joint research we are conducting with the Digital Disruption Research Group (the organisers of the event).


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About matthewsdani

Hi, my name is Dani. I live in Sydney with my husband Owain and our cheeky boys Ethan and Huw. I'm a lover of learning whose personal purpose is sharing these through writing and conversation to inspire others to insight and action if right for them.

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