Today I got to meet one of the most influential thinkers/speakers/writers in the globe today– Clayton Christensen. He spoke to a small group of technologists (CIOs and CTOs) at the Cisco IT executive forum, and held us all spell-bound by his fascinating (but sometimes dismal) projections based on his understanding of some major market forces.
Although I recognize most of the thoughts he presented from his books and articles, it was good having his personal context. It may help some of those concepts to sink it a bit more, and will help me as I try to maintain an eye on the horizon for the next technology disruptions.
One thing I realized right away is that I have been using the terms he coined a little bit differently than he does. I hope that is just a matter of perspective and not a misuse of the concepts he articulates so well.
Read more from Clayton’s Book: The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth
As an enterprise CTO, I always viewed a disruptive technology or disruptive innovation as something that would change my life whether I wanted it to or not. It is a dramatic improvement that forces changes to plans because it improves the ability of the enterprise to do something, perhaps by an order of magnitude. Opsware is the perfect example. It causes many enterprises to change their plans as soon as they see how powerful it can be. Endeca or Adobe Connect or VMware or Sun Ray thin clients are also good examples. In a different way, enterprise-wide VOIP and DVTC and modern identity management schemes are also disruptive to enterprise IT.
I know the way Dr. Christensen uses the term is far more significant and important to the business world, and we should all understand the forces at play in his use of the concept. In his context, a disruptive innovation is a product that overturns the status quo in a market. I guess Opsware, VMware, Endeca and others I track did that in the market, but I’m trying to look at disruption from the
vantage point of an enterprise IT professional who needs to prepare to the greatest extent possible to have enterprise plans/budgets/strategies changed by dramatically better technology.
With those thoughts in mind, please see my previous post on the topic of IT disruptivity, And please take a quick look at my list of my views of the companies we should all be watching for their potential for positive disruption in the IT enterprise. I have been talking to several CTO friends about an update to this list and would appreciate a wider swath of views on it before I do so.
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