HOW INDUSTRIES REALLY CHANGE
Over the past several years, people in business have taken the notion of “disruptive technology” and expanded it dramatically. While the term originally referred to a particular kind of technology evolution driven by a start-up which subsequently led to the failure of established firms, today it is used loosely as a label for change and innovation of all kinds. It’s now commonplace to refer to everything new, changing, or different–regardless of how marginal¬–as disruptive. While some might argue that it’s only a label, the problem is that its indiscriminate use actually hinders thoughtful decision making.
- The complement of disruptive technology is “sustaining technology” and the latter is more common than the former.
- Established companies often succeed by absorbing new technologies organically or by acquisitions.
- Many so-called disrupters fail. A look back at the numerous companies labeled ‘disruptive’ will show that most failed and had little impact.
- New technologies and new players often succeed by creating and thriving in niches rather than by displacing established firms.