Of all the things I expected to get out of last week's Thanksgiving holiday, a lesson that underscores Forrester's concept of 'disruptive renewal' wasn't one of them.
The holiday saw me and my husband at my parents' home. We had rolled in late the night before, said our good-nights and trundled off to bed. 7 a.m. the next morning we were greeted by opera blaring through the intercom system, a holdover from the house's build in the 60s. Good morning, indeed. The fact that I knew to expect this wake-up from many years of experience did not make it any more palatable.
Fumbling for my morning cup of Joe in the kitchen -- center of the house and also location of the main control panel for the intercom -- I was startled to see innovation had sprouted from this thing that had so aurally colored my teenage years. Perched on a small, purpose-built shelf integral to the console was an iPod. The aria that had roused me from my beauty rest was not issuing from a more-often-than-not staticky FM station, but from a selected track on Apple's slick offering.
(This led me to the inescapable conclusion that my parents are hipper than I suspected, which somehow made me feel even older. Mom and Dad are shopping at the Apple store. What's next? Abercrombie and Fitch?)
It brought to mind the Disruptive Renewal report recently issued by Mark Mulligan of Forrester which he blogs about here. In it, he makes the argument that disruptive technology -- connected devices that empower consumers to make all new kinds of choices about how to interact with your products -- can spell the future for your company or ring its death knell.
Forrester calls this disruptive renewal, which it breaks into three stages: that of disruptive empowerment, when new technology enables customers to make choices about how to interact with products; discontinuous change, when they re-evaluate traditional products and expect more from them; and the critical split of transformational innovation or terminal obsolescence, when businesses either react by transforming to meet (or exceed) the expectation -- or fail to do so, and just plain fail.
The power paradigm, as we know, has shifted. What was once the domain of the manufacturer has irrevocably moved to the consumer. Smart vendors -- like the hero of our little tale, the manufacturer of the intercom system -- hear and respond. Those who don't are likely to get outmaneuvered, become sidelined and irrelevant.
Is your company in danger of this? Forrester tells us that that enterprise products are as impacted as consumer products -- you don't shed your expectations as you walk into the office, do you? But in an October 2010 survey of 200+ product strategists, Forrester found that only 26% think their companies are responding effectively to disruptive technology, and only 5% think they are responding highly effectively.
I get it: it's daunting. The power shift. The weeding out the good ideas from the bad. The sheer costs associated with transforming how you respond. But take another look at our hero -- an iPod adaptor, a shelf, a calculated risk that their target demographic and Apple's intersect enough to make it worthwhile (also supported by the Forrester report, by the way), and boom, they've catapulted themselves from 1960 to 2010 and into relevance, and ya gotta think it's worth it, don't you?