Disruptive technology sounds like something you'd experience when your systems are down and the IT manager won't let you get back to your desk. But it is actually a good thing.
The phrase was coined by Clayton Christensen, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School.
When he used it, he was not thinking about an office where the computers are down and everyone is standing around looking puzzled while some telecoms engineers pull up the floorboards.
What Christensen had in mind was an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, the effect of which disrupts an existing market and value network.
This can happen slowly (as when the video killed the radio star) or in just a few months (when digital killed the video store).
What people really mean when they use the word "disruptive" here is the process of improving a product or service in ways the market does not expect.
But end users do not care about the market. All they care about is getting a better service.
When you have multiple projects which affect each other, the complexity increases. What makes the scenario even more complicated is that each project is about more than one process.
Storage area networks (SANs) have proved very expensive for enterprises, not just because of the cost of the hardware – although proprietary hardware is always painfully costly – but because you have to manage them.
It can take systems integrators all afternoon just to write out the shopping list for all the parts needed to build some infrastructure. It might run to six pages of baffling part numbers.
When you look at such lists, a number of things happen. Your eyes begin to slide off the page. As concentration wavers, it is only natural for mistakes to creep in.
Even if they don't, and every part number is faultlessly documented, there is still a good chance that some of these parts will not be available.
The more variables you have, the more likely it is that something will go wrong. An innovative technology that eliminates that sort of problem is more like the opposite of disruptive.
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