Internet and Disruptive Innovation

ACM: Ubiquity has an interview with Scott Anthony, co-author with Clayton M. Christensen and Erik A. Roth of the new book, “Seeing What’s Next: Using the Theories of Innovation to Predict Industry Change.”

UBIQUITY: What do you feel the role of the Internet has been in the whole disruptive process?

ANTHONY: When the Internet first began to appear on people’s radar screens they intuitively perceived that it was important and would do something substantial to business. Where people rushed to judgment was in saying that anything old is bad, anything old is dead, anything new that has this .com affixed to it is good and will ultimately triumph. A couple of things happened over time. One is people realized that the Internet by itself is neither good nor bad, nor is it something that’s constructive or destructive on the face of it. The impact of the Internet has depended on the specific business model of companies. To someone like the University of Phoenix, a provider of adult education, the Internet is a highly sustaining innovation and makes it easier for them to extend their business model and reach more working adults. But to someone whose business model is built on having integrated services provided at a centralized location, at least in the initial days, it’s less clear how the Internet helps them. My first notion is that the impact of the Internet is relative to the business model of the organization it’s impacting.

UBIQUITY: You said a couple of things have happened over time regarding the Internet. What is the second thing?

ANTHONY: The second thing that’s interesting is that a lot of things that happened in the 1996-2002 time period laid a foundation or groundwork. Now that the infrastructure is in place, you will see people coming up with novel business models that aren’t necessarily based on the Internet but take advantage of that infrastructure to do things that previously were extremely difficult.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.