Don’t Let the Competition Push You up Against a Wall
Disrupters can be positive (the underdog in sports) or negative (the person who keeps interrupting a meeting).
We don’t always know HOW a disrupter will influence us, but it’s generally better to know WHAT they are (or WHO if you’re in a meeting!) so that we can better prepare for their presence and their influence.
What are disruptive technologies?
Disruptive technologies are those technologies that displace an existing technology and its market. Applied positively, companies love to possess disruptive technologies. Applied negatively, companies hate learning of another company’s disruptive technology, especially when it is too late to recover.
Years ago, my father told me about the invention of drywall, a highly disruptive technology in its day.
Drywall is a construction material that we look at every day, or least at the paint covering it, with little thought that it was a significant invention at one time.
What made drywall a disruptive technology?
Wall-building technology had not changed for many centuries. “Lath” is simply thin, narrow strips of woods nailed side-by-side to the wall’s studs:
The lath was then plastered over by a skilled tradesman to form a smooth wall:
When drywall arrived it was pretty cheap and quickly installed by less skilled tradesmen even when accounting for the patching of the minor imperfections remaining from nails and joints:
Drywall was a disruptive technology because it greatly reduced the quantity of wooden lath and skilled plasterers needed (the market).
Disrupters like to be seen as the better alternative in the marketplace to speed adoption by the market. A great example is Apple Computer’s memorable 1984 commercial introducing the Macintosh computer. As you can tell, Apple wanted to be perceived as a disrupter in a world full of IBM computers.
In summary, being the inventor or owner of a disruptive technology can be a terrific situation to be in. For everyone else, stay current with your competitor’s activities and be on the lookout for technology innovations that may interrupt your marketplace.
Both will provide you additional time to develop your strategy and an even better technology!
1: JackyR (Wikimedia)
2: Adrian Pingstone (Wikimedia)
3: Amaxson (Wikipedia)