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. DT is when a new technology upsets the way that things have been. An example of DT is the radio replacing the newspaper, or the television replacing the radio as a source of news. 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.
DT can be beneficial to your business considering it offers more opportunity or options to your customers and influences product innovation. By not adopting DT, your business could potentially miss opportunities for a financial gain and powerful tools that could make your business more productive. A concern with DT is that it often takes away from you or your employee having to think for yourself. An example would be a calculator replacing the deep analysis of problem-solving, or digital navigation systems causing its users to not have to remember directions, or a cell phone contact list that makes it so that you 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.
DT is not always used as a method to remove or replace traditional methods; it can also create an alternative to the way things are done. It creates typically simpler, more convenient, and less expensive ways of doing things. DT is usually a result of the desire to make things easier, faster, and more convenient. Hence, landline telephones and traditional mail services are now second to cell phones and email.
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. Not everyone uses the internet or a mobile device in place of reading a book, looking through a map, or earning a degree. Many individuals 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 has caused those unwilling to adopt it, 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 become practically obsolete. DT introduces threats to existing methods, but also opportunities for new sources of competitive advantages. The benefits of DT go to the risk takers. Without being willing to take risks, the individual or business would never accept DT. Risk taking, however, can have negative impacts if it is not executed properly and with a strategic plan. For DT to be successful, small businesses and individuals must weigh the benefits. Without proper knowledge and training of why DT is needed or how to use it for success, the transition will likely fail and DT will negatively disrupt your business.