We Interrupt Your Business to Bring You: Disruptive Technology

March 7, 2016

Once upon a time, if you didn’t have a car and needed to get from a restaurant to your hotel, you hailed a taxi. Now, you might just as easily — perhaps more easily — use Uber.

Whereas in the past you might have used a travel agent in your hometown to book a vacation, now you might instead choose to use a third-party site that shows you the best deals on hotels, flights, and rental vehicles all in one place. Or you might just rent someone’s apartment or second home for a couple of weeks.

And don’t get too used to being in the driver’s seat. It probably won’t be long until your car picks you up, drops you off at work, and parks itself until it’s time to go home again.

These aren’t just technological advances. They change the status quo. They shake up the market. Put simply by Clayton Christensen phrase, “Disruptive innovation” describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.”

So what technologies are poised to disrupt the manufacturing industry?

3D Printing

We’ve talked about it before, but it’s only becoming more prevalent: 3D printing. The AJC points out that rather than waiting on a manufacturer to create a product or even going to a store to buy it, consumers are closer than ever to a reality where they can simply print what they need at home. Rather than buy a product from a supplier, consumers would just download a file. With options for the budget-conscious ($199 for the OneUp) as well as the pro (Form 2 resin printers create amazing detail), every business in the current supply chain, from materials to manufacturing to shipping, will be affected in some way and will need to innovate in order to stay relevant. It’s hard to say how close we are to this scenario, but in a world where one can 3D print food, it seems that almost anything is possible.

AI Workforce

Stephen Hawking and some other of science’s brightest minds are worried, and it seems there’s good reason. A robotic workforce may threaten millions of jobs in the next decade. Jobs in transportation (replaced by drones and driverless vehicles), data sorting and research (check out what IBM’s Watson is doing in oncology), customer service, and factories are prime targets for robotic job replacement. These exciting innovations are just one more reason why STEM education is vital to protecting jobs while still encouraging technological advancements. Of course ethics plays a role as well.

Cloud Hosting for IoT

In other blogs, we’ve discussed how the Internet of Things is disrupting traditional factory processes. As low-cost cloud computing becomes more secure, it threatens to overtake the market of traditional services and open new doors for start-ups to operate where, before, only large corporations could afford to tread. IoT is also revolutionizing personal health and daily analytics, tracking steps, activity, daily commutes and visited locations. As these uses all become more mainstream, cloud hosting will continue to increase in prevalence and importance.


In the past few years we’ve seen breach after breach of security. Consumers understandably are losing faith in once-trusted organizations to keep their data safe and are taking measures into their own hands with innovations like biometrics and multi-factor authentication. This will be especially important in the mobile payment sector. Another disruptive technology in the security market, blockchain is gaining acceptance as a means of secure payments, encrypted communications, and identification. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

What’s an organization to do in a world of disruptive technologies? Be innovative, of course, but don’t underestimate the value of trust in your brand. Earn and value that trust, and keep your eye on the latest and greatest in your industry.