Ignore disruptive technology at your own peril
Change, history shows, is constant. However, there is often some confusion as to the difference between a modest process improvement and a significant market or technology disruption. The latter are frequently major changes that have begun to take place right before our eyes, yet are not always comprehended and appreciated. We’re presently seeing it in energy, as we move from fossil fuels based energy to renewables. Transportation is being rattled by the advent of electric drivetrains and autonomous systems. Food is another sector which will see a huge upheaval this decade. Each of these industry and sector transformations have one thing in common: they are disruptive in that they are causing a dramatic shift in conventional thinking and with the conventional systems. And with each disruption comes new opportunities for those who embrace the change. Unfortunately, there are dire consequences, often destructive, for those who don’t.
A disruptive technology is one which provides a 10x improvement over the existing system. The shift is so radical that, initially, it's not easy to recognize. There’s a classic response to disruptive change, too. First, nothing. No response from the incumbents. Even though the “opportunity” is demonstrated to them, many just don’t see it. They may confuse it for something it isn’t such as simply a new process or a slightly better widget. Next, it’s a slight recognition that there’s something new going on, some new player in the market with very limited market potential or appeal. They see it mostly as a distraction. Denial is the next phase. As the word starts to spread, there is a concerted effort to attack the technology and to reinforce their own company’s offerings and market approach. The last response is a scramble to survive. If there are enough resources, this can be done through acquisition or significant internal investments to “right the ship” before it sinks. For most, it will be too late. Once a disruptive technology reaches its “tipping point”, as Malcomb Gladwell pointed out in his book of the same name, it’s game over. What seemed like a slow, methodical new technology introduction now becomes a tsunami. Many are completely caught off guard, building yesterday’s products for an ever dwindling set of like-minded customers.
There are many new pieces of equipment or processes which offer a fractional percent improvement here and there. In fact, they’re a dime a dozen. A word to the wise: if there is a technology being introduced which claims to offer a 10x improvement over the current offering, pay attention. Take time to evaluate it thoroughly before you write it off. It really doesn’t take that long. And, in this day and age, companies ought to have folks trained and dedicated to discovering disruptive opportunities (market, technology, geographic). Being on top of change will not only provide strategic opportunities, it may also keep you in business.
The Occam Process or the Occam Opportunity is not just disruptive for component assembly which is where many companies get hung up. It is disruptive across the board. It changes everything! Take a look at this list and decide for yourself if this isn’t worth a looksee.
There is much more to come!
The Occam Group
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