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Disruptive technology 101

The car, the internet, and the mouse are just some technologies which have disrupted the industries they were founded in. The car slowly but surely replaced the horse and cart. The internet redesigned how we create and gather knowledge and continues to impact different industries. And the mouse redefined how we interact with computers. These are all disruptive technologies, and we can see that this idea is not new even though the term was only coined by Clayton M. Christensen in his book “The Inventor’s Dilemma” in 1997.

According to Christensen, disruptive technology can be defined as “simply a new or emergent technology that displaces an established technology and changes the way we do things.” The thing about this technology though is that it doesn’t always arrive on the market with a bang. Usually, when it comes to market it may be mistimed and often the technology is still developing and trying to find its place in the world.

Furthermore, there must be two other elements involved to truly make the technology disruptive and they are economic and social. The technology needs to be adopted by the masses and have value for money for people to engage with it.

Lastly, disruptive technology may have been around for a time before it is noticed. It will already have had an impact on the industry in a way that makes it hard to go back to what previously existed.

Some of the recent types of disruptive technology are artificial intelligence, blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), Space colonisation, 3D printing, medical innovations, high-speed travel, and robotics to name a few. You may be using some of these technologies already without being aware of it. Especially if you like to use online shopping, you will get adverts for what you searched or spoke about with a friend. The fact that all your devices can be connected and speak to one another can make your life more convenient. You may have experienced a chatbot or used a wireless vacuum cleaner to clean your space.

As we can see in this overview of disruptive technology, they are more efficient, they can happen before we are aware of them and they only truly become disruptive if they change the way we do something.

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