The word “disruption” is thrown about with reckless abandon these days. Defined simply as “disturbance or problems that interrupt an event, activity, or process,” in the business world every new technology or trend is heralded as a disruptive force. In a 2013 TechCrunch post, financial advisor Andy Rachleff argued that Silicon Valley engineers “mistake better products for disruptive ones.” when, in fact, a disruptive product “addresses a market that previously couldn’t be served — a new-market disruption — or offers a simpler, cheaper, more convenient alternative to an existing product — a low-end disruption.”
When faced with genuine disruption, businesses need to respond with innovation. Consider Ford Motor Company, facing disruption from autonomous vehicles, which is exploring new lines of business, “such as ride-hailing and pay-by-minute car rentals,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
The problem with business innovation — changing something established by introducing something new to it or introducing something completely new — is that most companies are structured to support their established lines of business, products or services that were innovated long ago and that now just chug along, cash cows producing most of the company’s revenues.
Jeremiah Owyang founded CrowdCompanies as a council of large businesses that stood to be disrupted by the “sharing economy,” a class of businesses established based on the innovation of technology serving as the intermediary between people who have something (cars, spare rooms or apartments, free time) and people who want it (to get somewhere cheaper and faster than a cab, to stay somewhere more homey and less costly than a hotel room, to clean out a garage or scan photos, for example). Each of the members of CrowdCompanies needs to innovate to stave off disruption.
They asked Owyang “to look inside of companies, to find out how they are structured to respond to disruption trends.” The result is a report, “The Corporate Innovation Imperative: How Large Corporations Avoid Disruption by Strengthening Their Ecosystem” (which is available below). In this FIR Interview, Shel Holtz and Jeremiah talk about the obstacles to innovation, some of the 10 types of innovation programs the study uncovered, the metrics for measuring innovation success, and more.
FIR Interviews are recorded using Zencastr and are sponsored by ThornleyFallis.
About our Conversation Partner
Jeremiah Owyang helped major companies navigate the first phase of sharing: social media. He’s committed to helping companies through the second phase of sharing, as people share and create the physical world around them. Over the course of his career, Jeremiah has identified big trends before they happen, and helped major companies through the transition.
Jeremiah was a founding partner and research director at Altimeter Group, and currently serves on Altimeter’s on board of advisors. Before that, he was a Forrester Analyst covering social computing for the interactive marketer. Jeremiah was also Global Web Marketing at Hitachi Data Systems, where he launched the social media program Jeremiah has been advising and influencing business leaders globally. Jeremiah is a professional speaker and keynotes business conferences around the globe. His online publications often receive over 100k views from his blog, Web Strategy.
Connect with Jeremiah on LinkedIn.