Disruptive Technology (DT) is a powerful means of broadening and developing new markets and providing new functionality, which, in turn, may disrupt existing market linkages (Christensen, 1997). DT is when a new technology upsets the way that things have been done. The radio replacing the newspaper, or the television replacing the radio as a source of news is DT. DT is not when a single event occurs that disrupts things. It is when a process plays out over time that causes new technology to either replace or reduce the use of an older method.
I believe that DT is beneficial to businesses and individuals because it offers more opportunity to me as a consumer and it causes product innovation at a better value. By not adopting DT, individuals and businesses could be potentially missing opportunities for a financial gain and powerful tools that could make their life or business more productive. The concern I have with DT is that it oftentimes takes me away from having to think for myself. An example would be a calculator replacing the deep analysis of problem solving, digital navigation systems causing its users to not have to remember directions, or a cell phone contact list that makes it so that I don’t have to remember a phone number. With so much dependent upon these technologies that we rely on to help us in our day-to-day, we can become lost without the benefits that DT has created. The benefit for me and why I appreciate DT is because I enjoy looking for new technologies to make my life easier so that I can spend more time on the things that matter to me most.
DT is not always created to remove or replace an older method; it creates an alternative to the way things are done. It creates typically simpler, more convenient, and less expensive ways of doing things (Christensen, Baumann, Ruggles, and Sadtler, 2006). DT is usually a result of the desire to make things easier, faster and convenient. Hence, landline telephones and traditional mail services now have email and cell phones. Not everyone has or will adapt to DT. Just as cell phones have not fully replaced the landline, DT ultimately could have a major impact on an existing market without totally displacing it (Schmidt and Druehl 2008). Not everyone uses the Internet or mobile device in place of reading a book, looking through a map, or earning a degree. Many people still select to drive a car, take a train, or travel by boat to get to their destination. There are however ways in which DT have caused those unwilling to adopt it, to have to have to make sacrifices. Video streaming services Redbox and Netflix have caused brick and mortar businesses such as Blockbuster to close shop because of Blockbusters inability to create or adapt to DT. Digital photography caused film to practically become obsolete. DT introduces threats to existing ways, but also opportunities for new sources of competitive advantage (Markides, 2006). The benefits of DT go to the risk takers. Without being willing to take risk, the individual or business would never accept DT. Risk taking however, can have negative impacts if it is not executed properly and with a plan. For small businesses, the possible financial loss could be detrimental to the business. In order for DT to be successful, small businesses and individuals must weigh the benefits. Without proper knowledge and training on why DT is needed or how to use it for success, the transition will likely fail and DT will disrupt business.
Schmidt, G.M. and Druehl, C.T. (2008). When is a disruptive innovation disruptive? Journal of Product Innovation Management, 25, pp. 347–369.
Christensen, C.M. (1997). The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail. Boston, MA Harvard Business School Press.
Christensen, C. M., Baumann, H., Ruggles, R., & Sadtler, T. M. (2006). Disruptive innovation for social change. Harvard Business Review, 84(12), 94–101.
Markides, C. (2006). Disruptive innovation: In need of a better theory. Product Innovation Management, 23, 19–25.