Digital Disruption The Imperative Of Today Unleashing Innovation

・5 min read
Digital Disruption The Imperative Of Today Unleashing Innovation

The idea of the digital changing things sounds hardly impressive for both professionals and common users of the countless number of electronic devices, gadgets and applications which have actually become part and parcel of our lives and are simply here to stay. “For them but not me,” one might think. “No longer,” says James McQuivey, the author of the recently (February 2013) published: _Digital Disruption: Unleashing the Next Wave of Innovation.


To start with, McQuivey does not come up with a new ground-breaking idea that could trigger one more heated debate. Instead, he gives account, at times,  a mercilessly sounding one, of the existing state of affairs that is not to be challenged, evaluated or competed. As Seth Godin, the author of The Icarus Deception says: “This is a frightening and useful manifesto about how the rapid changes in technology are going to overturn every corner of the world as we know it—and how you can take advantage of that.” Sounds gloomy, but McQuivey does not leave the reader alone.

The guidance he provides consists of following the three steps around which the whole message of the book is centered. Adopt a digital disruptor’s mindset, the first of these steps, addressed mainly, though not exclusively, to the young as in their formative years they were exposed to digital possibilities, at the same time abandoning the limitations of the analog way of thinking while the others, like it or not, are rooted in the previous era, virtually suspicious towards innovations. The optimistic frame of the digital grows out of the facts, namely  the large scale employment of cheap or free tools, digital platforms and, first of all, digital consumers.

”Behave like a digital disruptor,” step number two is based on the altered sense of reality. Instead of asking “How can we make a new product that we can successfully sell?”   the disruptor asks: “How can we give people something they really want?” So they seek and find the “adjacent possible” and now might help you lose weight, decide how to do your hair on Friday night, make your child’s violin lessons really soar, they will deliver a morning report of the time you spent in REM sleep or help you treat diseases or even identify the risk of illness before you even go down with it etc. Moreover, they will do it faster and much cheaper!

“Disrupt yourself now,” the third step requires everyone within an organization to adopt the attitude of willingness and accept the responsibility to become digital disruptors both within their domain and across various ones. This must be accompanied with the realization of the simple fact that we must innovate/disrupt faster, cheaper and better if the company is to keep its head above water until the next decade.

In the introduction to the book, McQuivey points at interesting analogy between the rapid economical development of China and soaring acceleration the digital disruption continually displays. In a nutshell, the growth of Chinese manufacturing power could be attributed to it being a world centre of low-cost labour but also having an army of very motivated workers, readily applying technologies and effective distribution methods.

These, confronted with American companies with their high labour costs and relatively rigid structures provides the ready-made answer to the oncoming shift in the world economic leadership.     McQuivey proposes a two-step formula: people + infrastructure = disruption. The similar process has been quite apparent in the field of digital disruption. With a vast and constantly growing number of disruptors having reasonable financial expectations and friction-free infrastructure, the above quoted formula boils down to:  digital innovators + digital infrastructure = digital disruption. Some of the examples quoted within the book are Apple App Store, generating 650.000 (recent information tells of about 800.000) applications and $5 billion in payments to the legions of developers, or Facebook’s developer platform with over 9 million Facebook apps and these only constitute the tiny tip of an iceberg.

It seems to be beyond question,  McQuivey’s book should be approached as an obligatory reading for anybody who wants to succeed in the era of consumer-oriented reality. Studying the anatomy of, expertly presented, digital disruption should provide a valuable opportunity to engage executives in a general discussion about where, how and when to think about disrupting the existing status quo inside their own industry or their own organization. Those looking for more specific ways to create truly digital value can certainly benefit as well, yet, obviously enough, they will need to refer to other publications that concentrate more on the `how to’ of creating customer value and company revenue by means of digitizing the business.

Finally, a couple of words about the author (the info quoted from James McQuivey@jmcquivey is a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research and the leading analyst tracking the development of digital disruption. He comments regularly in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and has contributed to the websites of the Harvard Business Review, The Economist, and Forbes. He also appears frequently on news outlets like CNBC and NPR. McQuivey lives in Needham, Massachusetts, with his wife and the four youngest of their six disruptors.

James McQuivey: Digital Disruption: Unleashing the Next Wave of Innovation

Publisher: Amazon Publishing; Unabridged edition (February 26, 2013)

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