How big data is changing disruptive innovation

Something new is going on in the world of innovation. With information at the core of most modern disruptions, there are new opportunities to attack industries from different angles. Uber built a platform in a fragmented limo market that let it come into transportation and logistics more broadly. Netflix captured your eyeballs through streaming video and used the data it had to blow up the content production process. Google mapped the world, and then took its understanding of traffic patterns and street layouts to build autonomous cars.

There is no doubt that disruption is underway here. These players create products that are cheaper and more accessible than their peers. But it’s not necessarily starting at the low end of the market, it’s coming from orthogonal industries with strong information synergy. It’s starting where the source of data is, then building the information enabled system to attack an incumbent industry.

It’s time for executives, entrepreneurs, and innovators stop quibbling over whether something satisfies the traditional path of disruption. Data-enabled disruption may represent an anomaly to the existing theory, but it’s here — and it’s here to stay. The waste laid to the taxi industry by Uber is example that the new solution had extraordinary cost advantages and that they couldn’t respond. The new questions should be:

  • “How can you adapt in the face of this new type of competition?”
  • “How do you evaluate new threats?”
  • “What capabilities do you need and where do you get them, when data is a critical piece of any new disruption?”

To succeed in this new environment, threatened businesses need a thoughtful approach to identifying potential threats combined with the will to make the right long-term investments — despite short-term profit incentives.

From: Harvard business review. Read full article here.

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