Disruption Innovation as a Business Strategy


Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing a series of posts on disruptive innovation.

As many of know, I've been dancing on the razor's edge of disruptive innovation for over a decade and seen first hand how disruptive technology disrupts not just markets, but org charts and people's lives too.

Disruptive innovation forces workers to adopt work flow processes, learn new skills and even eliminates some jobs and business sectors entirely.

I've seen it happen again and again. Adapt or die really does happen.

When I launched my first SaaS company, we struggled to help an entire industry upgrade its skill set while new industries were born all around them. Those who couldn't adapt at all to the online migration, were ultimately pushed into exile and the digital natives inherited the mantle.

But many of those natives knew technology better than business.

At the time, I wrote the first B2B online marketing book, led seminars on digital literacy and built an online training company to help organizations try and close that skills gap, improve their B2B marketing efforts and keep their social media meltdowns out of the news before moving on to run the center for digital innovation at a $1B B2B.

And I've learned that disruptive innovation is disruptive.

It disrupts organizations internally and markets externally.

And it continues to reshape industry after industry.

Disruptive Innovation Examples


Uber and Lyft have doubled the number of self-employed drivers, challenging our reliance on vehicle ownership for personal transport, and automakers have taken notice.


By launching an online marketplace enabling buyers and sellers can trade short term lodging for a piece of the action, AirBNB has put tremendous pressure on asset-heavy Hoteliers, who simply can't compete on price.

Tax Prep

Do-it-yourself tax software continues to eat away at assisted filings, many of which are now being prepared overseas.
Subscription Models – Dollar Shave Club, which sells subscriptions to a never ending supply of razors has grown so quickly, Gillette recently launched their own on-demand service .


By introducing single song sales online, Apple iTunes killed the record store and was the catalysts that ultimately reshaped the recorded music industry.


By assembling an online bookstore with the world’s deepest catalog at competitive pricing, Amazon killed retail book sellers before expanding into all other ecommerce sectors. The rest is history.

Disrupting Industries with Technology

Industries are always changing. That’s nothing new. But digital startups displacing incumbent market leaders definitely is.

Want to conquer the lumbering giant in your industry?

The common disruptive element in these examples isn't just change, but the speed of change, or velocity.

When change occurs faster than others can adapt, that velocity can disrupt the marketplace.

Change + Velocity = Disruption

In just 12 months, revenue at Blockbuster fell from over $3B to less than $1B. During that same period, NetFlix revenue rose from $2B to over $3B.

Blockbuster couldn't turn the ship quick enough, hit an iceberg and sank.

In the age of disruption, the fast eat the slow.

It’s all about speed.

Whoever can get you the song you want, the ride you need, the medical treatment you require or the job you seek the fastest — with the least amount of effort — wins. 

And (as an aside) since there are fewer people talking about wind turbine bearings than sushi, it's actually easier for B2Bs vs B2Cs to disrupt their online markets because there's less competitive in niche markets which means they can generate more leads with less effort faster.

Fast is easy and ease of use drives adoption.

Google has shortened our collective patience threshold, which means we expect everything to be as easy as a Google search.

The strategic imperative for business leaders is:

Shorter customer journeys win, and…

Shorter business processes win

Velocity means you can serve customers as fast as you sell them. It's not enough to make it easier to buy. It's got to be easier to sell, create, collaborate, plan, expense, procure, outsource, account for and hire.

The employee experience needs to be as seamless as the customer experience.  Both are equally important.

In my next post, I'll talk about how all this applies to your disruptive innovation strategy.

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