Not all innovations are digital disruptions. Why? Because a digital disruption is more affordable, effective and convenient than anyone else in the market. An innovation may be effective, but without being all three of these elements it is not disruptive.

This is according to Clay Christensen, the Harvard Business School professor and Author of the Innovators Dilemma. Christensen explains:

“Disruptive innovation, describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.” You can read more about Clayton Christensen’s key concepts here.

So innovations can be disruptive without being digital! A digital disruption is when the innovation is technology driven.

Quite often when technology is implemented, it can create micro marginal gains. Digital disruption on the other hand, tends to happen when companies create step change. The technology becomes accessible to everyone causing mass adoption. When mainframe computers were first built they filled whole rooms , cost millions and you needed a PDH to be able to use them – they were not affordable, effective or convenient! Now we may have several computers in our homes from desktop to laptops and tablets.

To put this in perspective, when businesses tweet more or do SEO better they may find smaller marginal gains. However, when organisations change their digital business strategy, target new markets and bring in transformative technology, it is then when they find step change. It is this step change that will lead to disruption.

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