Disruptive Innovation: Industry Savior or Hazard?

The term disruptive technology, or disruptive innovation, conjures up images of negativity and makes us think of a world of distracted employees and an ineffective workforce. However this isn`t what it means....

Disruptive Innovation Image

  • A disruptive innovation is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology. The term is used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically first by designing for a different set of consumers in the new market and later by lowering prices in the existing market.

When I spoke to my 9 year old son about the fact I had been asked to deliver a presentation on disruptive innovation he looked confused and said what is that?....surely that is a bad thing!? Why would you want to put in technology that was going to disrupt a business!

I posted a question on LinkedIn as to what people thought was the most disruptive innovation of the moment and why…

I got an interesting response…

“Social Media in general...It sucks, it takes you off task and it becomes addictive. It has some value but it’s the addiction to it and the need to keep checking for updates that makes it disruptive…it always seems more interesting than what you are supposed to be doing”

The reason I mention this response is due to the confusion surrounding the “disruptive” label, but also because social media can have successful impacts on a business by providing fantastic marketing channels and through bringing an organisation closer together by improving communications across the business and breaking down geographic barriers. It’s a perfect example of a disruptive innovation.

Yammer for instance has been installed in 100,000+ companies and by 80% of the Fortune 500! What does that tell you about the realities of disruptive innovation and social media?

Technology moves quickly, and disruptive innovations are happening frequently. No doubt your organisation is considering, or already using, some very disruptive technology right now. Within the communications environment these technologies are everywhere and can offer some huge benefits for business, but of course they come with that “disruptive” tag – highlighting the potential dangers with them.

There are some huge advantages to gain from new technology of course, but there are some serious implications and issues that must be considered before embarking on a course of major change. It may seem obvious, but you will be surprised of the number of situations where a good salesman has sold the virtue of new software, remarked upon its functionality and capabilities and blinded the business with the elevated production speeds and improved efficiency but not actually revealed the full impact it can have on the working culture.

SIP Trunking is a fantastic example of this. It is a great piece of disruptive innovation and technology, one that forms the backbone of everything we do here at Britannic. It is quick, efficient, and cheap. It enables all sorts of Unified Communications benefits too by switching to data transmission rather than voice, enabling services to be delivered through our core network such as video conferencing and collaboration, but if implemented incorrectly it can have dire implications for networks. Running extra data across your networks (since SIP takes your voice traffic into the data networks) can cause the whole system to operate at reduced speed impacting on business critical systems and ultimately preventing the workforce from operating at maximum capacity. It is imperative before installation that a full survey of usage and system capacity be conducted to highlight peak times and any spare capacity. It is also a good idea that a member of all departments be involved in the decision making process so as the implications for everyone are understood. At Britannic this is exactly what we do – we like to work as consultants rather than suppliers. Realising where you are as an organisation and your future goals and then aligning the technology to reach them is the Britannic philosophy. Through these steps you can negate some of the pitfalls of disruptive technology because you can anticipate and plan for the changes.

Cloud Computing, Cloud, Public Cloud, Hybrid Cloud, Private Cloud…. These terms seem to be everywhere and everyone has a different take on Cloud don’t they? We offer Cloud Telecoms with Britannic and have been implementing award winning systems for years now. We are actively encouraging our customers to adopt this technology. If we are really honest (and we are), the most disruptive thing about this technology is the impact on the bottom line – both in terms of costs and budget allocation. It changes your finance model with communications expenditure to Opex – you just pay a license fee. Future budget allocation is no longer a headache, it’s easy.

Cloud services also pave the way for effective managed services and outsourcing, simplifying the consumption of technology - meaning that the maintenance and support of the services is no longer a burden that your IT team have to deal with. A shared resource ultimately means that your IT team will be freed up with extra time and capacity to focus on other important business systems.

Our industry is changing at an ever increasing pace with great collaboration tools such as Microsoft Lync and the significant adoption and use of smartphones and the iPad.

I have just outlined a few “disruptive” technologies and showed how it doesn`t have to be viewed as a negative, and when approached correctly can actually provide business with some great freedoms.

What technologies do you consider to be disruptive? What future technology can you see becoming a disruption for business? I am always interested to hear thoughts from the industry so please comment and share your views.

Jonathan Sharp

Jonathan Sharp is a communications visionary and established technology business leader with 20 years’ proven excellence in driving business innovation and transformation. Sales & Marketing Director at Britannic Technologies, he puts enthusiasm into technology adoption, helping businesses to connect with their customers and staff in the most efficient and intuitive ways.

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