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What Are The Benefits And Challenges Of Disruptive Innovation?

The term "disruptive innovation" refers to the process through which new products or services have the potential to create new markets or revolutionise current ones by providing customers with improved value, quality, or convenience. Both the innovators and the incumbents in an industry face some problems and dangers due to change, even though the disruptive revolution has the potential to impact many sectors and society significantly.

What is Disruptive Innovation?

Clayton Christensen, a professor at Harvard, first used the phrase "disruptive transformation" in his book The Innovator's Dilemma, published in 1997. In his words, it is "the 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." He defined it as "a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market."

Christen identifies two distinct markets involved in disruptive innovation: low-end and new. Low-end markets are ones where customers are being overserved by existing products or services with features or performance that they do not require or cannot buy. New markets are ones where potential customers' wants or wishes are unmet by the items or services currently on the market.

Innovators that take a disruptive approach target these markets by developing alternatives that are easier to use, less expensive, or more convenient. These features appeal to customers who are either dissatisfied with the current offers or do not consume them. In the long run, disruptive innovators improve their products or services and move upscale, allowing them to compete with established companies by drawing more customers.

Benefits of Disruptive Innovation

Disruptive innovation can offer many benefits to customers, businesses, and society, such as:

Creating New Value

The fulfilment of consumers' unfulfilled or dormant needs or desires is one way that disruptive innovation can create new value for those customers. For instance, Airbnb developed a unique value proposition for travellers by enabling them to rent one-of-a-kind rooms directly from local hosts rather than staying in hotels. This was a massive gain for everyone involved.

Improving Quality

Enhancing Disruptive quality innovation can potentially improve the quality of products or services by adding new features, functions, or performance. For instance, as an alternative to depending solely on physically distributed DVDs, Netflix improved the overall quality of video entertainment by introducing its streaming media on-demand service.- Reducing costs: Disruptive innovation can reduce the costs of products or services by using cheaper materials, processes, or business models. For example, Uber reduced transportation costs by using a peer-to-peer platform that connects drivers and riders rather than operating a fleet of vehicles.

Increasing Accessibility

Disruptive innovation has the potential to increase the accessibility of products or services by making them more readily available, more economical, or more convenient for customers. For instance, Khan Academy widened access to education by making its films and online courses accessible to anybody with an internet connection.

Driving Social Change

Being a driving force behind social transformation: Disruptive innovation can drive social change if it solves social problems or positively impacts society. M-Pesa, for instance, was a significant force behind social transformation since it made it possible for millions of individuals in Kenya and other countries to participate in mobile money transfers and obtain access to financial services.

Disruptive innovation

Challenges of Disruptive Innovation

Confronting Uncertainty

Disruptive innovation entails a significant degree of uncertainty and experimentation. Innovators must frequently cope with unknown customer wants, market dynamics, technological feasibility, and competitor responses. When it first released its electric vehicles in a market dominated by gasoline-powered cars, for instance, Tesla was met with a great deal of uncertainty.

Overcoming Resistance

Disruptive innovation can run into Resistance from numerous stakeholders who may have vested interests in keeping the status quo or may perceive the innovation as threatening their values, norms, or identities. - Overcoming Resistance: - Disruptive innovation can run into Resistance from various stakeholders with vested interests in maintaining the status quo. For instance, Spotify ran into opposition from several record labels and musicians, who were concerned that they would either lose revenue or control over the distribution of their music.

Managing Complexity

Disruptive innovation can result in a rise in the complexity of products or services since it might result in adding new features, functionalities, or components that may require additional coordination: integration or ongoing maintenance work. For instance, Amazon upped the difficulty level in its e-commerce business by diversifying its product offerings to include cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and smart gadgets.

Finding The Right Trade-offs

Disruptive innovation often requires finding the right balance between several product or service characteristics that could affect the level of happiness or loyalty experienced by customers. For instance, when Facebook released its news feed algorithm that personalised material to users' tastes and behaviours, the company made people choose between their right to privacy and having more personalised news.

Examples of disruptive innovators

There are many examples of disruptive innovators in different sectors that have changed how we live, work, learn, communicate, and entertain ourselves. Here are some of them:

  1. Airbnb: Airbnb is a company that revolutionised the hospitality business by enabling anyone to advertise, find, and book one-of-a-kind accommodations worldwide.
  2. Uber: Uber is credited with bringing about a paradigm shift in the transportation business by enabling consumers to call for a car with a simple button push.
  3. Netflix: Netflix is responsible for shaking up the entertainment sector by enabling customers to view films and TV series whenever they want, whenever they want.
  4. Khan Academy: Khan Academy is credited for disrupting the education business by making free online courses and videos available to anybody with access to the internet.
  5. M-Pesa: M-Pesa disrupted the financial system by allowing millions of people in Kenya and other countries to participate in mobile money transfers and economic activities.
  6. Tesla: Tesla was a game-changer in the automobile sector since it was the first company to mass-produce electric vehicles with high performance and cutting-edge technology.
  7. Spotify: Spotify is credited for disrupting the music industry by providing streaming music on demand and individualised recommendations.
  8. Amazon: Amazon is credited for disrupting the retail industry by allowing consumers to shop online at low rates and receive their purchases promptly.


Disruptive innovation is a powerful force that has the potential to produce new value for consumers, businesses, and society as a whole. On the other hand, it comes with several difficulties and dangers that need to be managed with extreme caution and consideration. You can obtain insights into how you might implement disruptive innovation in your own business or industry by first grasping the concept of disruptive innovation, its benefits and obstacles, and by looking at some instances of disruptive innovators who have worked in various industries.


What Is Disruptive Innovation?

Disruptive Innovation: Meaning and Examples

Disruptive innovation

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