Story image

Is there such a thing as a little disruption?

01 Apr 16

When people think about disruptive technology or market disrupters they tend to think of Uber, Google (now Alphabet), Amazon and other fairly massive sized (now) companies. Of course, this makes sense given the scale of these entities by almost any measure, whether that is market capitalisation, revenues or their impact on people and culture; indeed, two of those three are now verbs, while Amazon will likely generate several verbs (“Prime that!” “Just Dash it!”) and at least one interesting proper noun (Alexa). But does every disrupter have to be ginormous?

For example, one might ask if Dollar Shave Club (DSC) is a disrupter. Let’s look at its market,  the $3B men’s shaving and razor blade market. Based simply on revenue, DSC can’t compare to market leader Gillette in spite of its $565M valuation (on VC investments totaling over $163M). But culturally, DSC was the first to make the purchase of mail order shaving products acceptable.

Now, DSC owns more than twice as much of the on-line market as Gillette does (though both can hear footsteps from Harry’s), it’s captured about 10% the total market for razor blades and last year, Gillette both filed suit against DSC for allegedly infringing on a razor patent (December; DSC has counter-sued) and created its own on-line shaving club (June).

Despite the fact that many men still have beards after Movember, this sounds disruptive to me.

That said, it’s important to note a couple items: there was no specific technical invention employed here; and notwithstanding the status of shaving and its related markets, disruption in this situation is on a different scale relative to the likes of Alphabet, Tencent, Amazon, Tesla.

These are companies whose actions in some cases have forced state and federal governments to legislate, and their financial resources – and often their core cultures – enable them to pivot quickly to disrupt anew. Let’s take our example above. What if DSC were acquired by Amazon (given Amazon’s stock valuation and nearly $20B cash on hand), who has a proclivity for buying on-line sellers? Imagine asking Alexa to add a new set of razors to your order through Amazon Prime, or having a Dash button on your bathroom vanity. It is fairly easy for Amazon (or other disrupters) to enter adjacent markets given ever-increasingly available sets of digital information and systems, not to mention cash on hand and Monopoly money-esque stock prices.

The moral of the story is that a market – or a company within it – is never too big or too small to be disrupted. Disrupters are coming in all shapes and sizes, and traditional organisations, whether they have digital business strategies or not and regardless of their market positions, ignore potential disruption at their peril.

Article by David Yockelson, Gartner research VP

Dimension Data nabs three Cisco partner awards
Cisco announced the awards, including APJ Partner of the Year, at a global awards reception during its annual partner conference.
WatchGuard’s eight (terrifying) 2019 security predictions
The next evolution of ransomware, escalating nation-state attacks, biometric hacking, Wi-Fi protocol security, and Die Hard fiction becomes reality.
Why the adoption of SAP is growing among SMEs
Small and medium scale enterprises are emerging as lucrative end users for SAP.
Exclusive: How the separation of Amazon and AWS could affect the cloud market
"Amazon Web Services is one of the rare companies that can be a market leader but remain ruthlessly innovative and agile."
HPE extends cloud-based AI tool InfoSight to servers
HPE asserts it is a big deal as the system can drive down operating costs, plug disruptive performance gaps, and free up time to allow IT staff to innovate.
Digital Realty opens new AU data centre – and announces another one
On the day that Digital Realty cut the ribbon for its new Sydney data centre, it revealed that it will soon begin developing another one.
A roadmap to AI project success
Five keys preparation tasks, and eight implementation elements to keep in mind when developing and implementing an AI service.
The future of privacy: What comes after VPNs?
"75% of VPN users said they are seeking a better solution for cloud networks."