Beyond Christensen: new models of industry disruption

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Most are familiar with the kind of disruption Clayton Christensen first described in his classic, The Innovator’s Dilemma: A new technology comes along that is dramatically cheaper than the incumbent solution and “good enough” to get by. Christensen expanded that concept into a “disruptive innovation” that creates whole new markets.

That model still holds true, but we’re also seeing new types of industry disruption. Haydn Shaughnessy is driving our Gigaom Research analysis of these models in his latest report which highlights four new types of disruption here. Below, readers can take a quick poll to give us feedback on what is important and what we may be missing.

Each of these disruption models has distinctive characteristics, but elements of each can also overlap.

  • Adjacency platforms. We all know the classic tech-driven platform with its APIs, business ecosystem, and network effects. What’s happening more often is that these platforms are migrating from their origins into new markets or industries. The way, for example, that Apple’s mobile OS platform is starting to disrupt payments.
  • Creative destruction and decentralization. Open source is a well-recognized force of nature. Some of its adherents are ideologically inspired to uproot the established norm. Think of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
  • New globalism. Companies like Google, Facebook, and Netflix are using the ubiquity of geography-agnostic infrastructure — increasingly delivered via smartphone — to enter international markets far more cheaply than in the past. Other than Spotify, we haven’t seen too many outside incursions into the U.S. — So far.
  • The reverse data model. Google and Facebook have hugely successful networks in part because they control access to their immense trove of user data. But what if an alternative model left that control in the hands of the individual users, and/or let them use their own data explicitly as currency for trade? Harvard University’s Berkman Center codifies this model as ProjectVRM, and legislation may play a visible hand here.

Take the survey below to share your thoughts.

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