large corporations are designed to work with sustaining technologies. They excel at knowing their market, staying close to their customers, and having a mechanism in place to develop existing technology. Conversely, they have trouble capitalizing on the potential efficiencies, cost-savings, or new marketing opportunities created by low-margin disruptive technologies.
Disruptive innovation has been a buzzword since Clayton Christensen coined it back in the mid 1990s.
Here are four key things to remember when assessing whether the next new company is likely to disrupt your business:
1. The common understanding of disruption IS NOT disruption according to Christensen
A great article by Ilan Mocharidiscusses the misuse of the word disruption when referring to business. As he clarifies, disruption is “what happens when the incumbents are so focused on pleasing their most profitable customers that they neglect or misjudge the needs of their other segments.”
2. Disruption can be low-end or new-market
These differences are laid out in Disruptive Strategy with Clayton Christensen. Low-end disruption refers to businesses that come in at the bottom of the market and serve customers in a way that is “good enough.” In other words, they put their focus on where the greater profit margins are.
The main difference between the two types of disruption lies in the fact that low-end disruption focuses on overserved customers, and new-market disruption focuses on underserved customers.
3. Christensen’s disruption is a process, rather than a product or service
When innovative new products or services – iPhone, Tesla’s electric cars, Uber, and the like – launch and grab the attention of the press and consumers, do they qualify as disruptors in their industries? Writing in Harvard Business Review,Christensen cautions us that it takes time to determine whether an innovator’s business model will succeed.
4. Choose your battles wisely
If you are a current incumbent and want to be on the lookout for a possibly disruptive emerging business, the clarification of what disruption is certainly helps.
Understanding disruption is also helpful if you are looking for opportunities to start or scale your business