Digital disruption is forcing IT leaders to move away from simply being managers of back-end systems that support commodity IT, to customer-focused leaders that embrace social media and mobile.

This is according to Forrester Research, which is holding two events on digital disruption this week.

Computerworld UK spoke to Kyle McNabb, VP and practice leader of application development and delivery at Forrester Research, who said that if enterprises don't embrace the disruption caused by new technologies, they will be left behind.

"What is new about digital disruption is that it is something that is fuelled by digital capabilities, digital technologies, that make disruption faster, more disruptive and can come from anywhere," said McNabb.

"Disruption is faster because all of us within society are empowered with digital capabilities, with smartphones, with social. Ideas can come from anywhere and they are coming in an order of magnitude that far exceeds what we have seen in the past."

He added: "It can happen very quickly and can catch firms completely by surprise, as power now sits with us as consumers and society. All those traditional areas of competitive advantage, such as manufacturing processes, the ability to manage capital, they are being eroded. They don't matter as much anymore."

Forrester's events on digital disruption this week aim to help IT leaders address the change and also help them understand the increasing need for CIOs and CMOs to work side-by-side. The Developing Digital Disruption and Embracing Digital Disruption summits are taking place in London today.

"If you look at the firms that are excelling in this age of digital disruption, they look at technology fundamentally differently. They look at some aspects of technology like software engineering and software development as core competencies to who they are and what they do. Whereas, you look at many historical IT organisations, they are viewed largely as a commodity and are not really taking advantage of these opportunities," said McNabb.

"IT leaders have to do things differently, they have to be more front and centred. They have to establish themselves as a competency within their organisation, as opposed to managing a set of commodities on the back end."