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Disruptive Innovation - Implementing Technology for Businesses

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Disruptive Innovation: Implementing Technology for Businesses

In the year 1997, the term ‘Disruptive Innovation’ flew from the pages of Harvard professor’s Clayton Christensen’s book, ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma’ and into management lore. In layman terms, Mr. Clayton described any disruptive innovation as being the application of a technology that significantly alters the way a market functions. This innovation takes its roots at the bottom of the pyramid and moves up to eventually displace the market leaders who are usually preoccupied with innovation of a different kind, ‘Sustainable Innovation’. Disruptive innovation is usually the brainchild of smaller players and traditionally outsiders to hurt the market leaders who are generally focussed on continuously improving their own product. With the passage in time and the increasing reach of the internet, the pace of change is also set to increase with the influence of the internet expanding into new domains. Sectors such as education and health care are primed for such innovations. Lessons have been learnt and even bigger players are overcoming their myopia and stepping into unchartered waters so as not be left behind.

With 24x7 coverage and connectivity, a slew of new innovations and technologies are showcased to mankind at a rapid with almost every new technology being billed to be a game changer. One would have to go back to the days of the Industrial Revolution to trace the roots of technological application being pivotal in disrupting existing practices and transforming economies. We are surrounded by everyday products that were once considered disruptive innovations at one point of time ranging from the phones to private jets. For any innovation to be disruptive, it must fulfil three basic criteria: from the perspective of the end user, it must be cheap and more easily accessible, and from the perspective of the organization, the business model must have structural cost advantages. Technology with its application in a business model is what gives rise to disruption innovation. In today’s world, demands from the marketplace, financial pressures and the explosion of data is driving the realization that organizations need to facilitate the integration of technology in their business to innovate. [pic 4]

A simple example would be that of the recent phenomenon that caught the world by storm, Pokemon Go. The rise of the game to the top of Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store has been well-documented as the game capitalised on a combination of the technology of augmented reality with a beloved franchise. Augmented reality as a concept had been around for many years, but Niantic, the company behind the game are the ones to be credited with bringing it to mainstream through pin point application. [pic 5]

Internet of Things and its Implications in business

The Internet of Things(IOT) is the network of physical devices, vehicles, buildings and other items - embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data.

IOT can be positioned as a disruptive innovation in the following ways:

  • Enable smarter business operations – The usage of sensors forms the crux of the concept of Internet of Things. These miniscule innovations can be used in anything and everything ranging from flavoured yogurt cups to the cement poured in high-rises and bridges and then record and send data back into the cloud. This is the explosion of data talked about earlier which would allow businesses to collect meaningful data on how products or equipment are used, when they might malfunction or break, and even how they can be enhanced in the future. A Rolls Royce aircraft engine contains sensors that relays back real-time data on the functioning of the engine to monitoring stations on the ground. This information can be used to detect, investigate and possibly prevent malfunctions before they become catastrophic thereby reducing aircraft disasters.
  • Change in business model – If we take the tractor industry for example, the name of John Deere comes to mind. They have been in the business of making farming simpler in the 21st century. But since 2012, they’ve added data connectivity to their equipment, giving farmers information about which crops to plant where and when, when and where to plough, down to taking the best route while ploughing. This is how IOT has enabled them to enter the business of selling data in addition to the business of selling tractors.

Other similar business models will no doubt emerge.  

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  • Expanding healthcare’s reach with smart devices for chronic conditions - Demand for health-conscious wearable devices like FitBits and Apple Watches has reached an all-time high, and now developers are looking to devices that will assist people with chronic illnesses. The global wearable medical device market is expected to reach $4.5 billion by 2020, according to Global Industry Analysts Inc. Diabetes, heart disease and other chronic diseases are driving the need for continuous glucose monitors, EEG monitors, pain management devices and other wearables.
  • Making houses efficient, secure and cost effective - The smart-home industry generated $79.4 billion in revenue in 2014, according to Harbor Research and Postscapes. They predict that number will rise as consumer awareness grows. IOT is creating a market for energy companies to unite and automate functions around the home that will provide efficiency, security and cost-savings, says Corey Chao, innovation manager at Reliant Energy, part of NRG Energy.

3D Printing

3D printing are processes which are used to synthesize a 3D object in which successive layers of material are formed under computer control to form the object. These objects can be of any shape and are produced from digital model data 3D model or other electronic data source such as an Additive Manufacturing File (AMF) file.

3D Printing and its implication in HealthCare Industry -

Low cost 3D printed Prosthesis - Prosthetics is a sensitive topic in healthcare industry and for the patients. They are vital for patients who need them. They are expensive and their cost can go up to $100,000. With 3D printing technology their cost can be brought down to $1000 and even under and also with personalized customization.

Implants - The main purpose of an implant is to replace a functional part inside the body. An implant needs to be accepted by the organism and should reproduce the functionality as that of the original part. The technology used to maintain these two constraints is expensive. With 3D printing and the use of adapted medical material, the implants shape can be improved and at a lower cost.

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