The dark side of disruptive technologies and innovation

Destruction Cover
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Imagine a world in which there are no longer pimps and madams taking their middle cut of the business. Hard isn’t it? Well, some pundits believe these “jobs” will virtually disappear because of disruptive technologies and innovation. Craigslist and other online services, where workers can transact business direct with customers, will chop the middle person.

With the recession, job cuts and dynamically changing markets, many jobs have begun to go into decline or disappear. In the office, filing clerks, typists, telephonists and secretaries have been disappearing. So, too, have assemblers, metalworkers, toolmakers, sewing machinists and printers in the industrial and manufacturing sectors.

Over a long period disruptive technologies and innovation have all but wiped out microfilm professionals, photo lab technicians, photo-typositors, typesetters and stenographers.

Who’s next? Bookstore owners, bookbinders, meter readers, webmasters, flight booking agents, printers and print encyclopedia personnel?

Disruptive technologies and innovation can also lead to new jobs and careers. Some of the job titles predicted for the future may sound strange but think how weird web designer must have been for many in the 1990s. Green jobs may include a “cloud controller” (someone who helps clouds reflect solar radiation), “simplicity consultant” (a person who simplifies and streamlines processes, products and services in companies) and bioinformationist scientist (who combines genetic information with drug development and clinical techniques). Already bioformatician is a job description used in pharmaceutical companies. Continue reading “The dark side of disruptive technologies and innovation”

How does a small business exploit disruptive innovation?

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I’ve been hearing a lot about disruptive technologies lately … at conferences, from small business owners in the web hosting and web design business and companies seeking business advantage in green products.

We’ve all seen technologies such as microwave ovens, memory storage and the Internet change our world whether as consumers or in businesses.

What exactly are disruptive technologies and how does this term differ from disruptive innovation?

Disruptive technology refers to new technologies that provide better performance than existing technologies or replace them. A simple example is that of seven-single records that were replaced by CDs and then by MP3s.

Disruptive innovation is any innovation whether technological or a business model that leads to the creation of a new market. Another simple example: cars were a technological innovation initially but were expensive and a luxury. But the disruptive innovation came about through mass-production of low-cost vehicles, the Ford Model T being the first, which revolutionised personal transport.

Most businesses are focused on incremental improvements, making existing products better, rather than introducing breakthrough products and services. When these larger businesses introduce their improved products and services, they usually aim at selling to their demanding base of existing customers to keep them. Examples could be high performance cars, higher spec smartphones and photocopiers with fast speeds and print-like quality.

Continue reading “How does a small business exploit disruptive innovation?”