Digital Disruption


Interdisciplinary disruption science IN the digital domain

Digital disruption is a process whereby entrants with fewer resources are able to successfully disrupt incumbents by offering a value proposition based on a digital technology and a network proposition utilizing an exponential price-performance trajectory.

DIGITAL disruption

Our basic idea is based on the theory of disruption formulated by Clayton Christensen (Christensen, 1997) combined with exponential understanding as formulated in Gordon Moore’s Law (Moore, 1965) and missioned by Singularity University.

Disruption is an innovative process, which describes how “… a smaller company with fewer resources is able to successfully challenge established incumbent business” (Christensen, 2015, p. 158). Disruption is not new to the world; the transportation by flight has for example disrupted the transportation by ship; however it has taken centuries from the disruptive technology: “ornithopter” invented by Leonardo Da Vinci’s about 1485 until now.

Nearly all areas in the global society will to some extend be digitalized; and because the digital performance is characterized by exponential development, digital disruption is happening with a persistently faster increasing pace in more and more areas such as:

- Technology: Additive/new manufacturing (3D printing), drones, virtual reality…

- On demand services: Search engines, video-streaming, music-streaming…

- Network communication: Social media, learning, consulting…

- Sharing economy: Transport, hospitality, collaborative consumption…

- Grand challenges: Health, environmental change, energy…

The global digital mega-trend results in a society which can be characterized as the disruptive society, where professional innovation management is a key competence to cope with complex problems and grand challenges. Thus interdisciplinary theory development in the field is necessary, addressing questions on different levels:

- Global level: How does the digital mega trend drives digital disruption?

- Society level: What are the macro conditions for digital disruption, and what competences are needed in the global disruptive society, and how can disruption create sustainable development?

- Network level: How to collaborate across organizations on digital disruption to ensure knowledge and access to competences?

- Organizational level: How to manage digital disruption in organizations?

     - How to react when digital disruption appears?

     - How to act to be a digital disrupter?

- Process level: How to implement and execute digital disruptive strategies?

- Personal level: How does digital disruption influence people’s lives?

Because of digital driven exponentially rational decision-making in organizations is even more bounded than Herbert Simon stated when he got the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1978 (Simon, 1978). Rational forecasting a budget or a market penetration in just two, three years might differ with a significant factor. Thus rationality is very imprecise in the digital disruptive market; what is edge business today in an organization might be core business in just a few years. And where rationality is bounded, power of imagination has to take over - because we still want organizations to be successful in the future.

In the graph below our understanding of digital disruption is summarized by the expression “Exponential disruption”. The difference between the graph below and the graphs by e.g. Christensen is the exponential growth of market performance by digital disruptive organizations. This pinpoints the fact that digital disruption is much faster than disruption in general. Another difference is the possible singularity in a market performance, which in relatively few years has created global market leaders such as Netflix, Airbnb, Google, Apple, and Facebook.