Emergic: Rajesh Jain's Blog

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The Myth of Disruptive Technology

August 4th, 2004 · No Comments

John Dvorak has a counterpoint on Clay Christensen’s ideas on disruptive innovations:

There is no such thing as a disruptive technology. There are inventions and new ideas, many of which fail while others succeed. That’s it. This concept only services venture capitalists who need a new term for the PowerPoint show to sucker investors.

One could almost make an argument for Linux as a disruptive technology. It’s free, so that helps. But what is it disrupting? Microsoft? In 1992, when Linux was invented, Microsoft had about $2.2 billion in the bank. Now Microsoft has over $70 billion in the bank and continues to grow. Some disruption.

One problem in our society is the increasing popularity of false-premise concepts that are blindly used for decision making. The amount of money squandered during the dot-com era because of “paradigm shifts” and “new economies” is staggering. People actually believed that all retailing would be online and that all groceries would be delivered to the home as they were in the 1920s, despite changes that make delivery impractical. Who cares about reality? We have a disruptive technology at work!

The concept of disruptive technology is not the only daft idea floating around to be lapped up obediently by the business community. There are others. But the way these dingbat bromides go unchallenged makes you wonder whether anyone can think independently anymore.

Scoble defines disruptive technology: “A technology that no one in business wants but that goes on to be a trillion-dollar industry.”

Tags: Management

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