Digital Disruption is one of those phrases endlessly bounced around the university campuses and technology industry today. Often it is hard to nail down what people mean when they talk about digital disruption, but they are generally referring to a rapid industrial change that is driven by emerging technologies – in other words, rapid change.

In some cases this can be incremental, look at how many traditional High Street banks continue to operate alongside the app-only challengers, but in other examples it can fundamentally change an entire industry – look at how Instagram means that younger generations have no idea that you used to put film in a camera before using it. Smartphone cameras and photo sharing apps have completely changed how people take, share, and interact with photographs.

But digital disruption is not just about organisations. Technology can disrupt lives and careers. Imagine trying to get a job today in a professional field and being told that despite your previous work experience and qualifications, you have no knowledge of coding and therefore you will not be able to fit in and use the systems that the hiring company is using.

Coding? Isn’t that just for software developers? This is a common reaction, but the reality is that many professionals today need to code, even if it is just a small amount of VBA inside an Excel sheet. However, as more and more professionals are expected to use automated tools, such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA), coding is becoming a skill that is far more important on your CV than that endless list of hobbies.

I believe that digital disruption is actually about people and their careers in addition to organisations and how they function. I started #techmums back in 2012 with some of these ideas in mind because I saw how many women put their working life on hold to care for a child only to have their confidence knocked when they tried returning to work.

We all know how childcare can damage the lifetime income of women, but the damage is not just financial. Mums have so much to offer, but their frequent negative experiences trying to get back to work can lead to a dramatic loss of confidence.

Our #techmums students often come to us with little, to no technical knowledge. Over the ten-week guided course (with 2-hour classes), we build their confidence, tackling a different aspect of technology through classroom-based workshops. From basic IT skills, to online safety, to programming and app design the course is designed to give a taste of what technology today can do for them. Kids love it, that their mums have had a go at designing an app!

At the end of the ten weeks, each mum gets a graduation certificate. Hitting grading criteria isn’t our focus – instead, we celebrate the overall achievement of gaining confidence in using technology. Research found that not only was there a huge confidence boost in our mums’ ability to use technology; there was also a significant increase in their more general personal confidence. In fact, the headmaster of that first pilot school in 2012, Nick Soar, said that alongside boosting our mums’ confidence, there was a marked difference observed in their children as well. Today we also have #techmums TV so anyone can watch and join in, even if they don’t have time to attend the classes.

Disruption is often presented in a negative way, but it can create empowerment with the right approach. This is exactly what I wanted to achieve when I founded #techmums – empower women through technology. As a single mum, I brought my own family out of poverty through tech education, so I know its power first hand.

Today, it’s easy to see technology as the enemy, where as in fact it can be life changing in an incredibly positive way. Our courses help women harness that potential in their own lives, giving them the confidence, skills and inspiration to play an active role in our shared digital future.

In case you haven’t registered yet, Sign up to receive fresh insights and invitations to exec events with our Webhelp Disruptor Series campaign:





Dr. Sue Black OBE

Professor of Computer Science, Durham University, and Founder of Techmums