Product Development

How to cause disruptive innovation beyond apps, websites and products

By June 14, 2018 No Comments

The spice industry got disrupted by the refrigerator. And the refrigerator is set to be disrupted by a button that puts fresh food in your mouth. Sometimes our ideas on how to disrupt a specific industry predominantly follows the same track: “We need to build an app/website/product to disrupt X”. However, there’s a lot more exciting avenues for innovation opening up almost daily through the use of technology and innovative tools. When we limit ourselves to something a customer can look at, or hold in their hands, we put an unreasonable limitation on what we can imagine and build. I’ll try to open your mind in terms of what else is available.

Let’s start by having a look at Gartner’s outlook on tech innovation 10 years ago:

Gartner 2008 Predictions

It seems obvious now, 10 years later that all of these have been “innovated to death”. But most importantly, it shows how quickly the market reacted to these tech trends and almost overnight capitalized on them. It might be a good time now to reflect on those trends and see if you *have* actually capitalized on these technologies, because if you haven’t, you might be sternly handicapped against your competition.

Now, let’s look at what’s coming in the next 10 years based on Gartner’s predictions from 2017:

Gartner 2017 Predictions

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but looking at these, you might recognize some of them already made it’s way into your life. And all of them will most probably become household names in the next 10 years. That opens a sleuth of new innovation opportunities you can start contemplating and even start building market-ready solutions on top of. Even though this article won’t go into much detail and examples of how you can use each for your next disruptive idea, I would encourage you to Google each one and see some of the exciting tech that’s already being built on top of it.

Thinking of new ideas

When thinking of new ideas, I tend to consider what gave rise to the “Innovation Trigger” as indicated in all the Gartner charts. In almost all cases, it identifies an invisible friction identified in our daily lives. And in most cases, another medium for marketers to sell you a product. Maybe your product or service might be better understood and received if you used an alternative medium to explain the friction you are trying to solve?

Another phase each tech inevitably goes through is aptly called the “Trough of Disillusionment”. There’s no shortage of examples here i.e. when some Bitcoin exchanges were hacked, when a self-driving car killed someone when your connected home started a fire. This gives multiple opportunities to companies identifying the problem and capitalizing on it by building innovative solutions around it. Look at the chart above and see if you can already spot some opportunities during this phase for the upcoming tech?

During the “Plateau of Productivity”, you’ll see new disruptive products being built on top of the tech daily. If you couldn’t capitalize before, then this would be the perfect opportunity to do so. In third world countries, it might be exceptionally easy to copy an existing product and adapting it to your local business.

Conclusion

You don’t need to look at the upcoming trends to think of a new disruptive idea, although it might give rise to some ideas beyond a simple app or website. You’ll do good going about your daily lives and identifying frustrations you encounter during your day. I’ve found most success by talking to people from various industries. Your next disruptive idea might even come from watching a movie, reading a book, or starting a new hobby.

I hope that kick starts your ideas of what is beyond a simple app or website.