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The Speed of Disruption is Becoming Faster

Disruption.

Launched into the vocabulary of entrepreneurs and leaders worldwide by Clayton Christensen in his brilliant book, The Innovators Dilemma. It’s become a buzzword over the last few years and for good reason. Technology has completely transformed not only our personal lives, but the way entire industries operate.

Think about how producing and distributing information and media has been transformed thanks to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest. Our ability to create and share information and content continues to evolve and at greater speeds.

Launched into the vocabulary of entrepreneurs and leaders worldwide by Clayton Christensen in his brilliant bookd, The Innovators Dilemma. It’s become a buzzword over the last few years and for good reason. Technology has completely transformed not only our personal lives, but the way entire industries operate.

We’re now living in an era where many startups are turning to space to disrupt industries, and they’re finding a lot of financial backing.

Disruption Is the New Normal

Today’s business leaders always have one eye looking forward and one eye looking behind them to see who’s coming up. That’s because they fully recognize that today’s businesses are disrupting yesterday’s businesses, and tomorrow’s businesses will be disrupted even faster. Disruption is happening so quickly these days that it’s simply not as impressive as it once was.

This means that today’s startup companies recognize they are always threatened by new entrants and substitute offerings. Those behemoths who were once the disruptors (think Amazon and Facebook) must now watch their backs because they know they may very soon be taken out by younger, nimbler, and more innovative companies. They understand that they can, almost overnight, become the tomorrow’s Blockbuster or Circuit City.

The Big Bang of Sudden Disruption

The disruption game has been changed once again thanks to the most recent round of improvements in information technologies. Today’s markets are being rocked by offerings that exploit current IT and at cheaper price points. And, more than being cheaper, new products are better integrated with the way customers live and work in this always-on, fully-connected world.

Add to this the ability of consumers to shout their approval from the social media rooftops and we now see entire product lines and whole markets destroyed overnight. Welcome to big bang disruption.

Consider older companies like Polaroid and Kodak that died a slow death. It took quite a few years before digital innovations in photography disrupted the market. The same can be said for Borders Books and Barnes & Noble that died a slow and painful death with the gradual introduction of ebooks and ebook readers like the Kindle.

Today’s companies die suddenly from disruption.

Think of the smartphone. That innovation displaced numerous standalone products like digital cameras, video cameras and even alarm clocks.

Google is a company that has killed industries seemingly overnight. When they launched their free beta app Google Maps Navigation, the company was simply trying to drive more viewers to their ads by integrating more already-digital information. But, from the start the app out-performed expensive, standalone GPS devices because it was cheaper (free is always appreciated by consumers) and Google is constantly updating and enhancing their products in real time. It’s no surprise then that the GPS market lost as much as 85% of their market cap in the 18 months after Google Maps Navigation was launched.

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Companies like airbnb are testaments to how quickly an industry can be turned on its head.

Death by Big Bang!

The taxi industry was also mortally wounded quickly by apps like Uber and Lyft. And there’s no telling what innovation might kill those offerings overnight.

Today’s innovations are coming out of left field, leveraging technology to offer a better value proposition and cater to consumer lifestyles. While this new form of devastation is currently affecting information-intensive industries like software, electronics and retailing, no industry is safe from the pace of disruption these days.

About the author

Nick Hastreiter

I write about the future of business. I approach this by interviewing founders, CEO's, and other game changers to share their vision for the future of their industry.

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