Part Four: Is Disruptive Innovation Dying?

by Lolita Foster, Senior Content Developer, West Cary Group

Last week's blog explored the disruptive power of shock and awe. In the final post of this series, we examine how the approach to innovation has been redefined in the modern age. 

The Dawn of a New Age: Measured Possibility

But all is not bleak for the future of innovation. Today the phrase “It can’t be done” should be uttered only if your name is Scotty and you’re talking to Captain Kirk about the limitations of the Enterprise’s dying engine. Because if there’s anything consumers – with their keys in the ignition and fingers on the pulse of tech – believe in, it’s possibility.   

Space travel for everyday people? In the works, courtesy of Virgin. Smart homes? On their way, thanks to the vision of Nest. Personal replicators? Hey, we’ve been tinkering with 3-D printers since the 1980s! Now that we can print anything from an acoustic guitar to high heels at a rapidly falling price point (the Cube 3-D printer currently runs about $1,000), it appears we’re only a few steps away.

Fundamentally, the consumer’s new role as inventor has redefined the approach to and perspective on innovative tech. Imagine “A” as the present and “B” as the moment of future invention. At one time, we stood at A, looked longingly at B (an innovative wish) and struggled desperately to make the tech jump. These days, equipped with the insight our technological and analytical might affords, we stand at B (now an accessible goal), then turn back to A to ascertain the logical progression and planning that will lead us there.

And there it is. We live in a world of possibility guided by sensible steps. Not disruptive leaps. We no longer obsess with destroying the old, but building upon the new. It’s an era of sustaining innovation brought on by the consumerization of tech and the insight of big data – and some might argue that this is the most disruptive turn of all.  


Recently, I was getting in my daily dose of NPR (if you told my 18-year-old self this, she would have laughed in your face), and during an episode of Money Talking, Charlie Herman, the Business and Economics Editor for WNYC News, said, “The tech economy is built on smart people acting on good ideas and then convincing the rest of us we can’t live without them.”

Smart people and good ideas sounds right. But consumers don’t need convincing anymore. After all, they’re the ones guiding the ship. And they told us what they wanted in the first place.


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