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What is disruptive technology?

Definition: Disruptive technology is new technology or innovation that significantly alters how businesses or consumers behave and operate. It is characterized by an ability to replace existing technology and obsolete processes, shake up the industry or create new industries and markets, and create new opportunities for businesses to capitalize on. 

Disruptive technologies can either be incremental or radical

Incremental disruptive technologies improve existing technologies, while radical disruptive technologies completely revolutionize the way that people behave on a daily level. 

Incremental technologies are far less risky and are easier to implement. They could be the simple introduction of new features to the existing product or service. 

Radical disruptive technologies include AI, blockchain, the internet, smartphones, VR, AR, and more.

Examples of disruptive technology

In recent history, disruptive technology has been mostly recognizable in the digitalization of non-digital industries.

  • E-commerce conglomerates (Amazon, eBay, Shein..)
  • Digital transport services (Uber, DoorDash, Wolt)
  • 5G technology
  • Blockchain
  • 5G  technology 
  • Advanced augmented and virtual reality 
  • Artificial intelligence and Machine Learning 
  • Cloud services
  • Nanotechnology 
  • 3D Printing
  • Cybersecurity 
  • Quantum computing
  • Hyper personalisation 
  • Smart assistants (Siri, Bixby, Google assistant..)
  • Computational chemistry 
  • Automation and robotics 
  • Headless tech
  • The Work-from-home revolution
  • Video streaming (Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Youtube, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+…)
  • Online lodging (Airbnb, CouchSurfing, Vrbo)
  • Music streaming (Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, iTunes)
  • Instant messaging apps (WhatsApp, Viber, Signal, Telegram)

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Article FAQs

What are the impacts of disruptive technologies?
These inventions derive from unique customer needs. Solutions are progressive and aside from facilitating source problems, they also spark revolutionary discoveries.
What are the most disruptive technologies?
Complex computer science tools that imitate human behaviour like AI or Machine Learning and the Internet. The internet has revolutionized how people communicate and access information, while AI and ML have impacted numerous industries by introducing automation.

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