Handling Disruptive Technology

At the recent Mark Logic Digital Publishing Summit, the hot topic was the emerging market of readers like the iPad. Publishers are concerned about how to incorporate the new technology into their business model. I believe the anxiety that companies are experiencing is a symptom of not understanding what customers are buying from them.

Disruptive technologies are nothing new and the difference between a good company and a great company is how the transition is managed. The most common fear is obsolescence. The best way to handle disruptive technology is to embrace it and have criteria in place to measure each new technology that comes along to see if it fits your business. Luck is created when preparation meets opportunity.

All too often as companies, we forget that we are offering a solution to someones real problem and not simply a product or service. For example when I purchase a car, I'm buying mobility, status and a sense of control in that I can choose when I arrive at my destination. This need is great enough that I'm willing to forgo cheaper alternatives like the bus or train. What customers are actually purchasing from you will vary from person to person. Knowing and understanding what customers are purchasing will empower you to be ready for any disruptive technology. Carefully examine the new disruptive technologies in your field and see if they improve the quality of your solution or delivers it faster or cheaper. If they fulfill one of those areas and are worth the cost, then it makes sense to try to incorporate that technology into your business model..

By understanding the solution customers are purchasing and the attributes of your product that affect the quality of the solution, you'll be much better prepared for the next disruptive technology. And when the right technology comes along you'll be able to create your own luck.