Disruptive Technologies & Innovation - Don't Get Blindsided

Disruptive Technologies are often Deceptive. Business leaders have always faced this Innovators' dilemma or conundrum. Whether, When, and How Much to invest in the "NEW."

Chander Nagpal
Chander Nagpal

As technology continues to advance at an unprecedented pace, disruption has become a constant in every industry. Disruptive technologies and innovations are transforming the way we live and work, creating new opportunities and challenges for businesses and individuals alike. In today's fast-paced world, it's essential not to get blindsided by these changes.

Innovation is the key to staying ahead of the competition and maintaining relevance in the marketplace. But innovation is not just about coming up with new ideas; it's also about embracing new technologies and approaches that can help your business stay ahead of the curve. The challenge for businesses is to identify the technologies and innovations that will have the most significant impact on their industry and be prepared to adopt them quickly.

In my work with founders of startups and scaleups, as well as business leaders from the incumbent organizations - while coaching them as part of Growth and Transformation engagements - I invite them to recognize the power but also the deceptive nature of disruptive exponential technologies.

As part of the same, I often use the EV Cars industry as an example.

When Tesla came to the market in the early 2010s, it was the talk of the town - but also a laughing stock for the senior executives of American & European Incumbents such as GM, Ford, VW, Mercedes, etc. EVs were expected to stay a niche with the likes of OPEC, and EIA, projecting that the volumes for EVs would remain small. Global EV sales in 2015 stood at a mere 330,000, and EIA's forecast was 2 million EVs by 2022. OPEC's estimates, at the same time - 100,000!!!

But then, Cathie Wood of ARK Invest came out with some controversial numbers in their publication "Disruptive Innovation - New Markets, New Metrics" in November 2016. They projected that there would be nearly 17 million EVs sold globally in 2022!

Sounded bonkers. Isn't it? So, what happened in reality?

In 2022, we saw 7.8 million EVs sold - a 68% increase from 2021 and accounted for roughly 10% global market share in the automotive industry for the first time. It might have been even higher, but for the supply chain challenges the EV manufacturers faced last year. Now, even the EIA has officially forecasted that by 2030, EVs will represent more than 60% of vehicles sold globally. It looks like they finally got it right!

The 2022 EV sales were certainly nowhere near the 17 million forecasted by ARK's team - but they indeed prove one thing - disruptive technologies are going to keep on replacing the existing products & services & solutions at an accelerated pace.

As a business leader - you must pay attention to them. This is why some organizations thrive while others struggle to survive or die. Remember Kodak, Blockbuster, and Blackberry!

Business leaders have always faced this Innovators' dilemma or conundrum. Whether, When, and How Much to invest in the "NEW."

To stay ahead of the curve, businesses must cultivate a culture of innovation and be willing to take calculated risks. This means investing in research and development, partnering with startups and other innovative companies, and staying up to date with the latest trends and developments in their industry.

While one must ascertain the desirability and scalability of any problem-solution and product-market fit, you are trying to create as a pioneer or invest in as a follower - you also need to understand one unique characteristic of the disruptive technology and innovation landscape - that their growth is deceptive.


So, investing in the future once a specific technology and the market has been tested is undoubtedly an option - it's just that as a business leader, you wouldn't want to regret ignoring it beyond a point in time.

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Chander Nagpal

With more than 25 years of experience in driving transformation initiatives, Chander is pronounced with a passion for delivering sustainable 10X impact through inspiring, engaging & enabling people.