Disruptive Technology

2015-05-24 08:24
Companies will face seismic shifts in business, caused by the proliferation of new tech, social mass media and disruptive digital ideas. To predict and participate in digital industry transformations, companies must watch out for new, possibly disruptive technology.
New technology has repeatedly caused disruption; Metals, gun powder, steam and combustion engines, electricity, electronics, computers.... and cell-phones! Looking back just 2 decades it's evident that the classic cell-phone and its smart phone decendants fundamentally changed the way people communicate, collaborate and work. But what is the next wave of disruptive technology? And is there a way to spot this early enough to gain competitive advantage and reap the possible benefits?

In 1998 the first wave of web-commerce boomed in what has later been known as “the internet bubble”. The expectations were highly inflated and when the shake-down hit the web-commerce space in 2000, expectations plummeted, leaving a vacuum in the professional investors’ space. Internet illiteracy and lack of experience sent share prices sky-high and subsequently into the "trough". Looking back at the past 20 years of web-commerce explosion, the sum of developments is far more extreme than most people imagined in those times.

As always with future predictions, the short term effects were exaggerated and the long-term effects were under-estimated.
It is happening again: With the exponential acceleration and the emergence of highly commoditized and useful technologies, the internet is once again sending seismic shifts through major industries. The 2nd coming of the web-commerce is upon us!

Watch out for Disruptive Technology

Digital disruptions are generally driven by technology penetration and to predict and participate in digital industry transformations, companies must watch out for new, possibly disruptive technology.

It generally takes less than a decade (give or take a few years to compensate for recessions) for a new technology to rise from 10% to 90% adoption in a western country like the US. Considering that it often take years to create and prepare the launch of new digital products, there is little time available to watch and decide.

From the moment a technology rises above the horizon, until the market is fully matured, time is too short to obtain a leader's position for most companies.There is a requirement to move early and swiftly into developing products and services, to fully leverage its potential.

Technology Watch is the process of tracking potentially disruptive technology for the purpose of deciding if, when, how they could be included in the company’s digital strategy. It's not very difficult to spot disruptive technologies after the fact, but another ball-game to spot them before they do. There is an endless list of evolutionary blind ends shattered around the few winning technologies: Betamax. Video-2000. HD-DVD. Symbian. OS/2. DR-GEM.... and many of these were excellent at a certain time.

But it's not only a question of technology excellence. Many other factors impact technology adoption. A good advice is to maintain a long-range technology radar and track technology adoption rate. The future mainstream technologies will often hold a significant revenue and profit potential and possibly disrupt industries during their rise.

What’s Cooking Right Now?

A number of specific technology trends will impact the coming decade significantly. As some of these trends already increase steeply in consumer adoption, they should be adopted to gain competitive parity with the leaders of industry sectors. But other trends are not as widely adopted, and present a real opportunity for competitive advantage for the progressive digital strategy maker.

Timing is everything! The revenue of the emergence adoption phase is miniscule, and most startups depressingly cease before they become successful. And the fully adopted adaptation phase is under pressure of declining growth rates and increased price competition, and profits are rapidly declining. The sweet spot is the growing adaptation phase, where growth rates are high, and price competition not yet an issue.

The graph is a snapshot of what's cooking across multiple industries today. Most industry sectors use tablets, smart phones, micro (single transaction) payments and social media to be on par with competition. In most industries, companies can use personal marketing, big data on people, clouds/apps, augmented reality and biometrical authentication to gain a competitive edge. Beyond that, lots of new technologies are emerging which makes sense in some sectors shortly, but in other sectors not.

Don’t brake when everybody else are accelerating!

Use Technology Watch to prepare your enterprises for the coming wave of competitive digital battles. And many new technologies are within the event horizon. Within that horizon, some companies will pick up the opportunities and include the new technologies in their services and product offerings. Enterprises that don’t watch the rise of new technologies risk missing the potential advantages of well-timed adoption of digital business opportunities.

Companies that ignore technology watch might find themselves with “a foot on the brakes, while everybody else is accelerating”. With the accelerating adoption of emerging technologies, it is not viable to play a catch-up game and be a late technology adopter.