What is Disruptive Innovation and Why is it Important?

In most business circles, there is talk of disruptive innovation, a newly defined approach to business that is sweeping every industry. Even though this form of innovation has existed for ages, we are really only now realising just how powerful it can be in defining the future of an industry. Known disruptive innovators redefine their niches through ground-breaking approaches to business, and it is important to understand how this works—because it does work. In this article, we will break down what disruptive innovation is, why it is so important for businesses of all sizes and discuss some great examples of disruption innovations of the modern-day era.

What is Disruptive Innovation?

When we think of innovation, we generally consider it in terms of a business that is changing the way it operates. It might be updating a process or introducing a new committee, or department. Either way, the change is to improve the way that the business functions in pursuit of a specific goal. That goal might be to increase revenue or establish a better relationship with customers.

Disruptive innovation takes this process one step further. It focuses on creating a new sense of value within a market or industry—and this subtle change matters. At this point, the innovative process is not just about improving a business. It is about changing the way that the entire industry operates, and it can be incredibly successful for some companies.

Modern-Day Examples of Disruptive Innovation

Implementing disruptive innovation is always a bit intimidating at first. When a company first tries to disrupt an industry, it runs the risk of being perceived poorly. Some attempts miss the mark entirely and cause the company to lose more than they gain. However, when it is implemented correctly, disruptive innovation has the ability to change the way that an industry operates forever. In fact, it can create a new market entirely and replace an existing industry with a newly evolved one.

Netflix

Netflix is the quintessential example of disruptive innovation that they teach in business schools. When it first started reaching out to customers and asking them to join in on an exchange process for DVDs, people weren’t all that impressed. At the time, Blockbuster was the company where everyone went for rentals—but Netflix knew something that Blockbuster didn’t.

Streaming was a virtually nonexistent concept when Netflix first began with it. We didn’t really think of it as a way to view media. Over time, this perception changed. People loved the convenience of streaming at home. Now, streaming is the media standard that every company strives to achieve. Blockbuster, which did not successfully make this change, failed because of it. Now, Netflix is so successful that they have their own production company—and now existing media companies are being held to that new standard.

Uber

Most of us can’t imagine a world without rideshare services, but several years back, taxis were the only real personal public transportation. Uber was founded in 2009, and what started as a questionable new travel concept is now one of the great examples of disruptive innovation of the modern-day era. Uber has shown tremendous growth and financial success. The Harvard Business Review has reported that Uber operates in 60 countries and has received roughly $50 billion in its most recent round of funding. Other companies like it quickly jumped on board, and it is easy to see why. People love it.

Amazon

Even though most of us receive multiple packages from Amazon a week, this wasn’t always the case. We all know that Amazon is a part of our lives, but we don’t always see how many changes had to happen to make this possible. With its services, Amazon has completely changed the way that people shop in person and online. It has also changed the way that we manage websites, access media, and publish books.

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The Importance of Disruptive Innovation

When we look at these corporate giants, it is fairly easy to see the value of disruptive innovation—but it goes well beyond that. Disruptive innovation is not simply a tool for a company to be more successful. It is the way that industries evolve and become better.

Every once in a while, a company makes a change that alters the way that we live. It might be giving us accessible groceries or making it possible for us to get from Point A to Point B. No matter the change, it has the ability to change the world and redefine what we consider normal. Even better, it helps us to improve.

Check out the Beginner’s Guide to Sourcing Positively Disruptive Ideas

Conclusion

Disruptive innovation should always be a central focus for any business. In order to truly leave a mark, businesses must move past simply improving themselves and move towards improving the industry. Sometimes, unexpected changes can influence the way that we live our lives—and that is very good for business!

Written by Åse Angland-Lindvall

With relentless energy and an unrivalled vision for helping companies to be successful, a core skill she gained at her time at E.ON and Ericsson, Åse helps companies understand the need for continuous innovation.

04/05/2021

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