What “Big Bang Disruption” Says About Technology Policy. In the upcoming issue of Harvard Business Review, my colleague Paul Nunes at Accenture’s Institute for High Performance and I are publishing the first of many articles from an on-going research project on what we are calling “Big Bang Disruption.”
The project is looking at the emerging ecosystem for innovation based on disruptive technologies. It expands on work we have done separately and now together over the last fifteen years. Our chief finding is that the nature of innovation has changed dramatically, calling into question much of the conventional wisdom on business strategy and competition, especially in information-intensive industries–which is to say, these days, every industry.
The drivers of this new ecosystem are ever-cheaper, faster, and smaller computing devices, cloud-based virtualization, crowdsourced financing, collaborative development and marketing, and the proliferation of mobile everything. There will soon be more smartphones sold than there are people in the world. What is Big Bang Disruption? Larry Downes and Paul Nunes at Experience CEA. The Faster a New Technology Takes Off, the Harder It Falls. First, a eulogy: The bell curve is dead.
That familiar model for technology adoption (first popularized by the noted sociologist Everett Rogers) — with clearly defined market segments adopting new technologies in predictable groupings — no longer applies. Following this work, Geoffrey Moore wrote in 1991’s Crossing the Chasm that successful new product introductions followed Rogers’s five discrete stages, moving from early adopters to mainstream users only after crossing a sales “chasm” in which the marketing message changes from the new and exciting to the familiar and incremental.
But today, new products and services enter the market better and cheaper right from the start. So producers can’t rely on a class of early adopters and high margins to build up a war chest to spend on marketing to larger and later markets. For better and for worse, thanks to near-perfect market information, consumers are too savvy for that. Plus vite une nouvelle technologie décolle, plus vite elle disparaît… Larry Downes et Paul Nunes de l’Institut de haute performance d’Accenture, auteurs de Big Bang Disruption : business survival in the age of constant innovation (La perturbation Big Bang : la survie des entreprises à l’ère de l’innovation constante, @BBDisruption) se sont intéressés à la courbe de l’adoption des technologies, le fameux modèle de la courbe en cloche popularisée par le sociologue Everett Rogers, et plus encore par Joseph Bower et Clayton Christensen dans leur fameux article sur les technologies perturbatrices.
Depuis ces travaux, les entreprises ont appris à être à l’affût des substituts de leurs produits et de leurs concurrents pour agir rapidement quand des perturbateurs apparaissent. Mais ce modèle stratégique de l’innovation de rupture est finalement bien confortable… estiment Nunes et Downes. Il suppose que les nouveaux entrants d’un marché laissent le temps à la concurrence de répondre. Pas sûr que ce soit encore le cas. Révisez votre stratégie concurrentielle ! Big-Bang Disruption. By now any well-read executive knows the basic playbook for saving a business from disruptive innovation.
Nearly two decades of management research, beginning with Joseph L. Bower and Clayton M. Christensen’s 1995 HBR article, “Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Wave,” have taught businesses to be on the lookout for upstarts that offer cheap substitutes to their products, capture new, low-end customers, and then gradually move upmarket to pick off higher-end customers, too. When these disrupters appear, we’ve learned, it’s time to act quickly—either acquiring them or incubating a competing business that embraces their new technology. But the strategic model of disruptive innovation we’ve all become comfortable with has a blind spot. That advice hasn’t been much help to navigation-product makers like TomTom, Garmin, and Magellan. The disruption here hasn’t come from competitors in the same industry or even from companies with a remotely similar business model.
A Difference in Kind. Big Bang Disruption. 1) Consult your truth-tellers Find industry visionaries who see the future more clearly than you do, and who won't sugar-coat it even when you want them to. 2) Pinpoint your market entry Learn to separate the little bumps from the Big Bangs, choosing just the perfect moment to enter a new ecosystem. 3) Launch seemingly random experiments Practice combinatorial innovation directly in the market, collaborating with suppliers, customers, and investors—who may be one and the same. 4) Survive catastrophic success Prepare to scale up from experiment to global brand in the space of months, if not weeks, and to redesign your technical and business architecture even while running at full speed. 5) Capture winner-take-all markets Sacrifice everything, including short-term profits, to ensure victory in winner-take-all markets, especially when success with one disruptor can be leveraged into follow-on products that can be created and launched even faster than the original. 6) Create bullet time.
Big bang disruption: Larry Downes at TEDxBayArea.