The tech industry is optimizing everything around us, disrupting every aspect of social, business or whatsoever. The thought everything will be easier is just so tempting to everybody remotely involved in anything remotely digital. And that’s why so many app-developers, start-ups, evangelists feel inspired by the opportunity. Every new idea needs to be ground breaking, revolutionizing. And that’s why that concept of “disruptive” became so popular, even while interpreted fundamentally wrong by this group of technologists. Clayton M. Christensen who coined the term, explored development of disk drives and described generational change in the technology, each disrupting the market of the previous generation. However, none of the following generations of disk drives was designed as “disruptive“, but to have advantages over the previous one.
GigaOm had an article titled “Disrupting Reality: Silicon Valley is busy ignoring the real world” this afternoon, which addresses another, but related aspect in the creative industry. Janko Roettgers describes how there is an app for every possible way to avoid contacts through your mobile phone. In other words, to remove the need to interact with people. For Uber, used as an example in the article, similar arguments lead the field. The service that competes so aggressively with traditional Taxi companies, but also with public transportation, even on a global level, is not disruptive. Time will tell, maybe. As for now, it is competing through a tough rating system between customers and drivers, along with cheaper pricing. Innovation maybe the surge pricing feature, that you can find plenty of opinions about on the internet. The service itself is not different from any other (innovative) taxi service (like there is MyTaxi, for example), with the difference that it ignores legal requirements and security regulations, potentially employment laws. From a consumer perspective, it will be more convenient, even though I cannot confirm from personal experience. Should the service become disruptive, it will be for the worse of any driver, offering a cheaper service to the market at their own expense, plus owing a service tax to the company. Given the limited incentive for the driver, that is unlikely to happen.
Any company should aim for responsible improvement. Perceived all “disruptive” founders claim to improve the world through technology. Responsible improvements wouldn’t be limited to technology but include consumer and provider. Most innovations aim to cut out or marginalize a provider, focusing on very limited contexts to save money, instead of improving a bigger context. It is to hope that the real world market is stable enough, that incentive to take part is too small for most of these models, and the surviving services will bring benefit for all involved. Aiming for, and hitting, an improvement that resonates with the entire market will make an innovation disruptive.