Big data and the Innovator’s Dilemma

It’s been over 15 years since Charles Christensen wrote the Innovator’s Dilemma.  (The Innovator’s Dilemma showed how highly effective companies fail because they invest their earnings perfecting their current value offerings which is what their clients want, until the clients abandon them when a disruptive entrant is able to finally deliver an equivalent high-end solution at a much cheaper cost.)  We now have a fundamentally new capability on our hands….big data.  It is clear to me and a lot of other people that the creative use of big data will create new fortunes and result in the fall of large companies.   New entrants who can exploit the capabilities of the Internet of Things and the processing of large datasets will clearly have strategic advantages in their work.  That is always the effect of powerful technological capabilities and the externalities that they create.

But my question is: Can the use of big data somehow help companies avoid the Innovator’s Dilemma?  Big data creates only one strategic advantage; there are many more to come.  I can think of two right off the bat.  First, 3D printing altering the manufacturing,  prototyping, and customizing processes. Second, cybernetic technologies.  While not here yet, they will be soon, and the companies that pay for personnel upgrades will soon have creative and processing capabilities that other companies will not.

The question remains then: How does one turn big data towards identifying solutions towards the innovator’s dilemma?  First, it requires that one identify potential threats, assessment of the threat, ways to compete with the threat, and then execution.  These are the tasks of the strategy officer — what kind of dashboard powered by some new-fangled data warehouse can help him?  I think that is an interesting question for me (and you?) to ponder.

If you want to read a recent posting about Christensen’s book and its current application, see:

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