In a competitive global market, filled with businesses constantly looking to innovate, isn’t it time we asked ourselves why some companies seem to be doing little more than making the wheel a little rounder, while others seem to be changing the world with every new release? Why is it that the products of Apple, Google and Facebook are not only adopted by consumers, but have consumers changing their behavior and lifestyles? The answer lies in what’s known as ‘Disruptive Innovation’.
So what then is ‘Disruptive Innovation’ and how does it differ from traditional ‘Incremental Innovation’? Consider computer processors; they have a very steady rate of advancement, with new models being introduced by the leading brands every six months which are incrementally faster than their predecessors. This type of innovation is better understood as “Incremental Innovation” – the step by step evolution of a product or a service. Disruptive Innovation (DI) on the other hand, looks to disrupt the process, and replace existing products and services with new solutions that satisfy the same needs as the products they are replacing, but in a more effective, holistic and meaningful way.
Disruptive companies revolutionize consumer behavior and change existing trends by identifying and filling an existing void with new products. Disruptive companies challenge those companies who are stuck on the status quo and fail to keep their eyes on the future.
For example, the primary method through which consumers used to purchase music was on a CD, from a physical CD store. Sony went one step ahead and invented the CD Walkman, a portable music player that allowed consumers to play music on the go. Apple on the other hand, disrupted the entire well established CD industry. The invention of the iPod mp3 player allowed consumers to carry their entire music collection in the palm of their hand; CDs were replaced by completely electronic mp3s, and the physical CD store was replaced with the online iTunes mp3 store. This changed the world and the way in which people think about how they own, purchase, enjoy and share music.
This process not only builds new businesses, but kills old ones that are slow to change. By catering to consumers who were looking for online travel solutions, online travel services such as TripAdvisor and Agoda have ended the reign of traditional businesses like the 170 year old Thomas Cook. Blockbuster, the leading movie lending organization which operated in 17 countries with over 1000 stores, filed for bankruptcy in 2010 after online movie services, such as Netflix – valued at 3 billion dollars – provided consumers with a superior method of accessing movies.
Still, it is much easier to look at an innovation post release and call it ‘Disruptive Innovation’, than to engage in DI within an organization. The question is, what makes an organization disruptive? Put simply: eyes on the future and a focus on building it. Too often organizations have their eyes focused on their products, looking for inventive ways of improving them, but fail to look directly at the consumer and the product’s purpose. Disruptive organizations have a vision of a future they want to see realized, and they are looking at all available resources to help them build it, un-fazed by the prospect of failure.
It isn’t about what your organization does, it’s what your organization believes in. It isn’t the products or services that your organization builds, it’s the future that those products and services help to build. Google doesn’t list a mission statement, instead they have 10 values they believe to be true; and Steve Jobs just wanted to make the world a more simple and beautiful place.
At Leapset, we believe that the world works better when you ‘bring the merchant and consumer together, seamlessly.’ We are disrupting the current way in which credit card payments, point-of-sale systems and online purchasing works, replacing it with one synergistic platform which seamlessly connects merchants and consumers, allowing them to interact in a completely turnkey fashion.
Our platform originated from Silicon Valley, California, the home of disruptive giants such as Facebook and Google, and is currently marketed to Small and Medium Enterprises in the restaurant sector in America – but all the development is conducted here in Sri Lanka.
We believe that Sri Lankan organizations have a role to play in building the world’s future and that Sri Lankans can be disruptive innovators. This is primarily because Sri Lanka is by no means an isolated country – the internet has made the sharing of ideas easier than ever before. For Leapset, this means we have a wealth of ideas and new ways of thinking flowing in from the home of IT innovation on a daily basis, also fostered by the fact that our developers get to visit the Silicon Valley and experience the culture first hand in order to learn and grow. But whatever business you are in, fostering your pathways of connection to the global market is key.
Secondly, we believe in Sri Lankan talent and creativity. Instead of striving to become a BPO power house, which will be a challenge given the dearth in IT developers compared to nations like India, Sri Lankans posses the ability to develop truly innovative IT solutions, such as the Leapset platform, and we have the ingenuity to become disruptive innovators.