What Is Disruption? A reflection by the team behind the New York Times


Disruption is a predictable pattern across many industries in which fledgling companies use new technology to offer cheaper and inferior alternatives to products sold by established players (think Toyota taking on Detroit decades ago). Today, a pack of news startups are hoping to “disrupt” our industry by attacking the strongest incumbent — The New York Times. How does disruption work? Should we be defending our position, or disrupting ourselves? And can’t we just dismiss the BuzzFeeds of the world, with their listicles and cat videos?

Here’s a quick primer on the disruption cycle:

1. Incumbents treat innovation as a series of incre- mental improvements. They focus on improving the quality of their premium products to sustain their current business model.

For The Times, a sustaining innovation might be “Snowfall.” 

2. Disruptors introduce new products that, at first, do not seem like a threat. Their products are cheap- er, with poor quality — to begin with.

For BuzzFeed, a disruptive innovation might be social media distribution. 

3. Over time, disruptors improve their product, usually by adapting a new technology. The flash- point comes when their products become “good enough” for most customers.

They are now poised to grow by taking market share from incumbents. 



Kodak and its filmbased cameras were the classic incumbents: a traditional, respected company offer- ing a high-quality product to a mass market.

Then came digital cameras. Film companies laughed at the poor shutter speed and fuzzy images of early digital cameras.

The photos weren’t great, but digital cameras better addressed the user’s primary need: to capture and share moments. It was easier and cheaper to take a digital picture, download it onto your computer and email it to many people than it was to buy film, print dozens of high quality photos at a shop and mail copies to friends.

When the inferior and cheaper digital product became “good enough” for customers, it disrupted the incumbent.

Digital cameras seemed poised to own the market. Then came flip phone cameras. They offered even lower quality photos. And digital camera companies mocked their grainy images. But again, users opted for a lesser product that was more convenient. They’d rather have a “good enough” camera in their phone then lug a better but bulky digital camera. When the flip phone camera became “good enough,” it disrupted the incumbent. ”


A willingness by notably salesforce to disrupt how the IT services are delivered requires a repositioning of the IT department. I have a boarded this perspective in “deliver business value with IT” that you can find @  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FOQ6T46


Please find the full report from the New york Times @: https://app.box.com/s/618qztt4g1fupw7p9s9n



What Is Disruption? A reflection by the team behind the New York Times

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