A disruptive technology is one that displaces an established technology and shakes up the industry or a ground-breaking product that creates a completely new industry. Here are a few examples of disruptive technologies:
The personal computer (PC) displaced the typewriter and forever changed the way we work and communicate.
The Windows operating system’s combination of affordability and a user-friendly interface was instrumental in the rapid development of the personal computing industry in the 1990s.
Personal computing disrupted the television industry, as well as a great number of other activities.
Email transformed the way we communicating, largely displacing letter-writing and disrupting the postal and greeting card industries.
Cell phones made it possible for people to call us anywhere and disrupted the telecom industry.
The laptop computer and mobile computing made a mobile workforce possible and made it possible for people to connect to corporate networks and collaborate from anywhere. In many organizations, laptops replaced desktops.
Smartphones largely replaced cell phones and PDAs and, because of the available apps, also disrupted: pocket cameras, MP3 players, calculators and GPS devices, among many other possibilities. For some mobile users, smartphones often replace laptops. Others prefer a tablet.
Cloud computing has been a hugely disruptive technology in the business world, displacing many resources that would conventionally have been located in-house or provided as a traditionally hosted service.
Social networking has had a major impact on the way we communicate and — especially for personal use — disrupting telephone, email, instant messaging and event planning.
E-commerce is disrupting physical departmental stores and malls.
Thus, it is a technology that significantly alters the way that businesses operate. A disruptive technology may force companies to alter the way that they approach their business, risk losing market share or risk becoming irrelevant. Recent examples of disruptive technologies include smart phones and the e-commerce retailing. Clayton Christensen popularized the idea of disruptive technologies in the book “The Innovator’s Dilemma” in 1997.