I think the term “disruptive” in the sense of disruptive innovation and disruptive technology has suddenly become a buzzword with little meaning. Especially in the start-up community.
As some as you may know, disruptive is a word for a technology or innovation that is breakthrough and is something the customer wants and needs, but it may not be something that the customer wants or needs just quite yet. Let’s take the iPod for example. When it came out, there were plenty of other mp3 players on the market. The iPod was definitely not the first to the game, but it quickly took over the game. Apple gave its customers quick, one touch access to their music in an attractive package. Bingo, just want the customer wanted and needed. Soon all other players faded into the darkness.
The term “disruptive” was first coined by Clay Christensen, author of The Innovator’s Dilemma.
What few people realize is that that was back in 1997. In 2012, the word is gaining traction and just about every entrepreneur believes their product will be disruptive and touts it as so.
So many pitches. So many taglines. Need a tagline? Just fill in the blanks…”Disrupting the [insert your industry here] industry”. Piece of cake. Browsing the internet for examples of taglines, I found this tagline at least five times.
I have an idea and I want it to be disruptive. Of course, I won’t know if it will be disruptive until it is actually successful so I am not going to market it as disruptive. If it is actually disruptive, people will take notice and marketing will almost take care of itself.
You don’t see Apple advertising the iPad as disruptive to the laptop computer, or Amazon telling us their cloud services are disrupting the traditional data center. We know they are. If you have to label it, chances are, it probably isn’t disruptive. Forcing innovation, especially disruptive innovation, is damn hard. Sorry to break it to you, but every start-up is not disruptive. Think of a new tagline.