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  • Writer's pictureGary Lloyd

True Disruption in the Age of AI: A Lesson from Clayton Christensen



The term 'disruptive' is often tossed around. But do we truly grasp its meaning and implications, especially in the context of AI?


In his groundbreaking work, "The Innovator's Dilemma," Clayton Christensen introduced us to the concept of disruptive innovation. This isn't just about any new technology shaking things up; it's about a specific type of innovation that starts from the bottom of the market and moves upwards, eventually overtaking established players.


As we witness the rapid evolution of AI, it's crucial to revisit Christensen’s insights. Why? Because AI is not just a new technology, it's a potentially disruptive force, especially in its current trajectory.


Here's the critical takeaway for businesses: While established firms often tread cautiously with AI, fearing mistakes and threats to their existing models, new entrants embrace AI liberally. Leveraging AI's growing capabilities, these newcomers have less to lose and more to gain.


This is where understanding Christensen's disruption theory becomes vital. Incumbents focused on refining and sustaining innovations may overlook the potential of AI, seeing it as an auxiliary tool rather than a transformative one. On the other hand, new firms are using AI to create novel solutions and business models from the ground up.


As AI continues to evolve, adding more sophisticated capabilities 'out of the box,' the gap will only widen. Features that incumbents spend considerable time and resources developing are becoming readily available to everyone, reducing barriers to entry and accelerating innovation.


This scenario is reminiscent of Christensen's observations: the disruptors often start with what might seem like inferior or niche applications but rapidly climb up the value chain, outperforming the established players.


The message is clear: Underestimating AI's potential for disruption is a risk no organization can afford. It's not just about adopting new technology; it's about understanding the dynamics of disruptive innovation and being prepared to rethink and reinvent before it's too late.


As we navigate this AI-driven landscape, let's not just use 'disruptive' as a buzzword. Let's understand its profound implications in the context of AI and make strategic decisions that prepare us for a rapidly changing future.

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