Consumer Products

Disruptive innovation, is it for everyone?

By Sajith Wimalaratne - Last updated: Tuesday, October 24, 2017

apple-tv1‘Innovation’ – for many organisations the term is part of their company DNA, whilst others toy with the concept. Neither stance is right or wrong; some companies do well without constant innovation and others need to innovate just to survive the next quarter.

Open or closed innovation? Again, it also doesn’t matter, some organisation will be more open than others and this will be the case for the foreseeable future. In my view there is nothing wrong with that as long as an organisation does what is best for them. For me innovation is not just about an organisation doing R&D, it’s all about doing business and surviving.

Ultimately creativity drives the innovation. Companies that need to innovate to stay ahead and survive have to foster a creative culture within the organisation. Something that is easier said than done! How exactly can an organisation create that environment where people feel they have the freedom to be creative, whilst at the same time, making sure people don’t waste company time just being “innovative”? A creative culture like this can’t be created overnight. However, changing a company’s structure, skills, incentives and control methods can gradually help to develop that creative culture which in my view leads to innovation. The starting point for me to drive this culture is – surprise, surprise – the senior management team. The decision needs to come from above and the senior team need to buy into this.

What is disruption?

The next question is what is disruptive innovation? What is the quality of an innovation that makes it “disruptive”? Wikipedia defines disruptive innovation as follows:

“the innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market leading firms, products and alliances”

What a mouthful! Whilst I don’t disagree with this, to me disruptive innovation is a product or service that make the incumbent redundant. For example, the innovative service that Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and Hulu Plus came up with disrupted the business model of Blockbuster. You can argue that Netflix changed the every node of the supply chain not just one element.

Change is in the air

Delivair_800pxThe Netflix example is the past, but let’s looks to the future. I’m willing to bet good money that drone delivery, which is slowly looming on the horizon, will disrupt the delivery service sector. There has been an enormous amount of development in drones in the last 5 years. Amazon successfully delivered the first Amazon Prime Air delivery to a customer in Cambridge, UK in Dec 2016. This suggests that the aerial delivery is not far away. At Cambridge Consultants we developed DelivAir, a drone delivery concept that can deliver a package straight to the hands of its recipient, no matter their location.

Innovation Roundtable Summit 2017 is just around the corner and Cambridge Consultants is attending this year and I’m lucky enough to be taking part. The 2017 Summit will be attended by 600 innovation executives from 250 multinational firms – the world’s largest gathering exclusively for corporate innovators. The Summit has a highly interactive format, combining insightful presentations with a variety of discussion sessions, enabling delegates to exchange experiences with their peers about topics of special interest, and with plenty of time dedicated to informal networking. I for one am really looking forward to attending this year and meeting like-minded individuals to further our understanding. If you happen to be there, come and see us at booth 20.

Summit details…


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AuthorSajith Wimalaratne


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