“Disrupt” “Disruption” we hear those words in conference sessions offered with no context as if the very act of disrupting is by definition a good thing. We see articles about start ups who promote their ability to disrupt the market as their primary differentiator and it has made its way into common usage which is why it’s stuck in my head and I have developed a twitch everytime I hear someone say it like it’s a magic answer to any and all questions. However I’ve also been doing a lot of work this year in the IoT space and found myself talking about how IoT devices will completely change how businesses and processes work, in much the same way the arrival of the internet itself did.
So if I find the idea of IoT innovations changing customer relationship models, supply and production and delivery models, if I find all of that interesting, exciting and presenting huge opportunities, what’s my problem with “disruption”.
From the Oxford English Dictionary
Disturbance or problems which interrupt an event, activity, or process.
So yes. The idea of disrupting established industries, rethinking the very core of how they work sounds on the surface to be just an extension of innovation. Instead of innovating within industries, you disrupt their existing models to innovate outside of the parameters they are forced to work within. Some of the most famous disrupters include obviously Uber and AirBnb but you could include media content sites such as Buzzfeed or even vaping products. All of those things have brought huge benefits to their customers delivering services that are a closer precise fit to their needs. However all of this was done by benefitting from the other aspect of disruption which is talked about a lot less
Disruptor companies often get to ignore existing regulations that exist for the industries they are disrupting.
That’s why Uber gets to be successful, because they avoided having to abide by the same rules as taxi companies, AirBnb avoided rules around hospitality and Vaping companies avoided rules around health regulations. They all take advantage of gaps in the law. You may say “good for them. I love what they do” and it’s true many industries have not evolved cleanly, they have more and more outdated regulations and they no longer meet the needs of their customers. However, by dancing through the gaps in the law the customers and employees remain exposed by the lack of protection those laws were put in place to enforce.
I may choose to book an Uber or an AirBnB , assuring myself I know of the risks I take in doing so and you may do the same but regulations are there to protect everyone, even people who don’t understand what they are giving up in using an unregulated service.
I realise this isn’t news to anyone. You all know this and have your own opinions but for me I had to think it through. I believe in innovation, I believe in the importance of disrupting existing established and outdated working practices, but I don’t support slicing through protections that are there for customers and employees in order to achieve a goal. If regulations need changing, if services need to be different then disruption needs to happen by innovating within those existing parameters or campaigning to change them.
Our company has always worked to deliver innovative systems and rebuild / rethink existing processes and we continue to do that. So where does this take me? I have more thoughts on that but maybe for another day.