Disruptive Technologies Are Boring And That's Their Secret

from the bingo dept

While most of this article focuses on other elements of conversations between two of my favorite strategic thinks, Clayton Christensen and Andy Grove, there is a great quote where Grove points out the Christensen the problem with talking about how "disruptive technologies" come out of nowhere to surprise established companies: "Clay, I see what's wrong with your idea. You shouldn't call them disruptive technologies, you should call them straight, boring technologies." That sentence alone explains why so many companies still fail to see the threats of disruptive technologies. Christensen's work is now quite famous, and it's difficult to find a tech exec who hasn't (said they've) read it. You also hear execs all the time talk about how they now know to pay attention to disruptive technologies - but you still see them missing the boat, often while exclaiming how vigilant they are in spotting disruptive technologies. Grove's point goes a long way towards explaining that (even if half-jokingly). Most execs ignore disruptive technologies because they don't think they're actually disruptive. They're "straight, boring" technologies that don't seem likely to create a profit. That also corrects that fallacy the disruptive technologies "come out of nowhere." That's rarely true. The reason they seem to come out of nowhere is that established companies ignore them for so long, that by the time they do realize they're a threat, it's too late.


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    EsmeV, May 19th, 2004 @ 11:32pm

    Senior telco execs don't get Skype

    I was just talking to a senior telco executive about Skype. He told me he has heard about it but never used it. He says Skype is totally irrelevant and won't get anywhere. He missed the point. Even if Skype the company ends up nowhere, the application - making voice calls for free - will continue to gain popularity especially as more people get broadband. The point is that millions of people are now using Skype to make long distance "calls" for free. It changes the definition of "call". If Skype goes away, someone else will take their place. People don't care who it is. I use Skype almost exclusively now for my long distance calls and tell people whom I'm about to call, to get it and a headset. For people who have Macs, I use iChat on my iMac.

     

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