With disruption think ecosystem rather than just technology


It seems every brand, business and industry is in danger of being disrupted.

Disruptive technology is in a never-ending march towards toppling the incumbents.

But is this the entire story?

Is technology all there is when discussing disruption?


Successful disruption relies on a 4 core elements that form a new, better ecosystem.

1. Often it starts with a widespread consumer problem or frustration.

I will use Uber as an example.

Taxis were often late to arrive or did not arrive or in short supply or were expensive.

Anyone of these issues might have been enough to encourage passengers to seek an alternative.

2. A leap of imagination or disruptive thinking

This is often the most underrated of the 4 elements but maybe the most important.

Think of Uber — imagine a taxis type service without company owned taxis.

Or consider Airbnb — an organisation offering hotel like services but without owning a hotel room.

These are powerful leaps of imagination.

These are instructive examples of disruptive thinking.

3. A digital or technology solution

Invariably disruption involves some form of new technology or a better, faster, simpler or cheaper digital solution.

With Uber its the driver and passenger rating system for example.

Or the cashless payment mechanism.

Or the way you can monitor the driver’s approach or the way drivers can monitor traffic flows or new routes to a destination.

4. A better consumer or customer experience

None of this matters if the experience of using the new product or service is below what exists at the moment.

There can be all sorts of disruptive promises but the ultimate judge is the consumer or customer.

If they find the experience so much better than what exists then the new product is well on the way to being a success.

The key message?

Remember it’s the ecosystem that matters most.

A disruptive technology for all its latent or potential value is not enough.

It must be built into a disruptive ecosystem.

One that provides better value.

Being different or technologically advanced is laudable but it does not always translate into profits or growth.

Building a better, disruptive ecosystem will.

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