Embracing Disruptive Technologies as an Entrepreneur

February 21, 2024

Disruptive technologies are constantly changing the business landscape. As an entrepreneur, it's crucial that you integrate these tech revolutions when they happen. Identifying and keeping up with these trends could prove critical as you look to survive in a competitive market.

But this isn’t always as easy as it seems. How can you make sure your new business doesn't fall behind? In this article, we'll detail the importance of disruptive technologies and outline how you can identify them. This will help you keep your small business at the cutting edge of your industry.

What is disruptive technology?

All businesses use technology to one extent or another. Pencil and paper — those are technologies. Not very exciting or innovative, but still.

However, not all tech has the same impact. Some new tools and techniques complement the way you conduct your usual business. They can improve productivity or help upgrade particular processes. But ultimately, your overall operation remains the same.

Disruptive technologies have a more wide-ranging impact. As the name suggests, they alter the market in foundational ways. After they appear, it doesn't just send shockwaves through "business as usual." Instead, “business as usual” changes forever.

What are the characteristics of disruptive tech?

The term "disruptive" can have negative connotations. However, this impact, while sometimes unsettling in the near term, can ultimately open the door to previously unimagined opportunities.

Think of the disruptive tech of previous generations. The car didn't just change transportation. It changed the way we think about distance. Meanwhile, the internet altered communication and understanding in ways that are still unfolding.

Those are just two examples of disruptive technologies that have altered their industries (and daily life) completely. This process has unfolded countless times in business history.

What's more, the impact of disruptive tech is an ongoing event. Obvious in hindsight, it's sometimes difficult to identify these trends as they happen. You need to know how to distinguish truly transformative innovations from passing fads that won't have a significant long-term impact.

With that in mind, here are a few traits that fit almost all disruptive technologies:

  • Revolution (not evolution): Disruptive tech represents a hard break with the past.

  • Superseding benefits: The performance of the new technology beats its predecessors on most, if not all, metrics.

  • Scalable: The impact of these revolutionary technologies can be felt at all levels. Gigantic conglomerates and small family businesses can all eventually share in the benefits.

  • Large potential scope: It's hard to underestimate the impact of a disruptive tech. These innovations have a game-changing impact on your operations.

What is the role of disruption in business?

Technology is central to success in any commercial venture. And statistics show that most business leaders realize this fact. For example, the U.S. Chamber of Congress reported data showing that 95% of all U.S. small businesses leverage at least one technology platform.

However, not all technology is the same. Are you getting by with yesterday's best option? Or are you preparing for tomorrow by hunting down the next disruptive tech in your industry?

Technology is central to success in any commercial venture. [...] Yet, one study indicated that only around two in every 10 small businesses took complete advantage of the tech available to them.

It can be hard to be a first adopter. Startups and small businesses often work on shoestring budgets. You need to get the most out of every resource. And while disruptive tech can open up new levels of productivity, it's sometimes hard to find sufficient capital to invest in the improvement.

This reality bears out in the statistics as well. One study indicated that only around two in every 10 small businesses took complete advantage of the tech available to them. Meanwhile, looking at one specific emerging technology, data from Deloitte and Stanford University indicated that just 25% of small businesses were using some iteration of AI.

Why is it important for entrepreneurs to stay updated about disruptive tech?

Disruptive tech can make a substantial difference to your small business. For instance, a recent MIT-Stanford study showed that customer service employees that were given access to generative AI were 14% more productive than those that weren't. Clearly, integrating the right technology can represent a significant upgrade.

However, it's not always a straightforward process. Trying to be an early adopter for every technology can be expensive. This approach also comes with serious risk, as not every potential disruptive tech lives up to its promise.

Getting the most out of a technology also requires a team effort. Your team will need training and time to become familiar with the new tool. You'll need buy-in from your staff, so you need to consider the process and the pace of integration.

That’s where you come in as the leader of your organization. It’s your role to read the landscape, choose the best direction, and smooth the process of transition. Here are a few key components of that process:

  • Stay educated: Learn as much as you can about emerging technologies.

  • Invest in the process: Budget time and money to research new tech and review the current options for your business.

  • Be judicious about your technology investments: Use your research to target your efforts.

  • Involve your team at each stage: Get feedback, provide training, and involve those around you in the process. This will give you additional perspectives in the selection process and lead to more engagement as you move forward.

What are 5 disruptive technologies your small business should know?

Five years ago, Capterra ran a survey that identified five critical technologies that small businesses should have on their radar. Since that time, the importance of these innovations has only increased. Meanwhile, the tech itself has advanced, becoming more useful in everyday settings.

Let's take a look at these crucial tools:

Conversational UI

Here, the user interface (or UI) is made as user-friendly as possible. Generative AI has represented a significant leap forward in this field. The goal is to develop chatbots and search functions that can interpret and appropriately respond to normal everyday speech. Integrating this into your operations will upgrade customer service, improve your sales process, and bolster retention.

Artificial Intelligence

We've mentioned the recent innovations in generative AI. These have made headlines throughout 2023, but they represent only part of the advance made in this overall field. Artificial intelligence is a broader pursuit capable of making ongoing breakthroughs for business.

In its broadest form, AI offers opportunities to reproduce many of the tasks currently done by humans. The technology also has the potential to learn from experience, which allows it to react to situations and evolve as it gets more data. Think of the tech used for driverless cars and imagine how this could be applied to different areas of your operations.

Data and Information Security

With customer interactions becoming largely digitized, data safety has become a crucial priority for every business. A study published earlier this year showed that 2022 saw a 38% rise in cyberattacks compared to a previous year. There's no reason to assume this will slow in years to come.

Outdated or underfunded data security can put you at risk. Besides the potential expense and distraction a breach could inflict on your operations, your reputation is tied to how well you protect your customers' information. A major breach could sink your brand.

Internet of Things

This category describes the way digital connectivity impacts the physical tools you use. In the consumer world, Internet of Things, or IoT, relates to appliances like dish washers and thermostats. For business, it can lead to significant gains in productivity and flexibility in the machines you use for manufacturing, your office environment, or other critical functions.

Digital Marketing

Push beyond the bounds of traditional advertising. Take advantage of the various ways customers interact with the world. Reach out in innovative ways to connect with your target audience and simplify the process of converting those sales.

Are you ready for the next disruptive technology?

Given the ever-changing technology used in business, you need to stay informed about the latest developments. After all, disruptive tech can change the playing field in an instant. You don’t want to miss this opportunity and watch your competitors leap ahead of you.

Disruptive tech can change the playing field in an instant. You don’t want to miss this opportunity and watch your competitors leap ahead of you.

To do this, you need to make sure your business is staying up to date with the latest innovations, and that your product has a stable place in the world of technology. However, this requires more than chasing trends. You need to be able to identify disruptive technology and understand how to apply it to your business in an efficient and cost-effective way. Use the information here to get started.