In 1995 Clayton M. Christensen coined the term disruptive technologies in his article Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Wave. The term "describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors." The pace of this disruption appears to be increasing quickly as new technology--the cloud, the "Internet of things," 3-D printing--emerges and develops rapidly. What are the current companies disrupting industries? Here are five of the top ones out there right now and how they're doing it.
Since 2008, Airbnb has been turning the travel industry inside out. What began as a way for roommates Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia to help pay the rent for their San Francisco loft has grown into a phenomenon with more than 800,000 listings in 33,000 cities and 192 countries.
What has made Airbnb so disruptive is not only that it finds affordable rooms or rentals but also that so many people have joined in on the fun. Matthew Ingram from Gigaom shared a lesson from Clay Shirky in his book Here Comes Everybody. "Even behavior that has existed before--such as sharing information with our friends and family, or connecting with people who have similar interests--becomes qualitatively different when hundreds of thousands or even tens of millions of people are involved."
In fact, Airbnb isn't just disrupting the travel and technology industries, it's also changing laws through its interaction with regional hotel industry regulation, condo rules, and other limitations on who can charge what for short-term housing.
If you're concerned about the health of the hotel industry because of Airbnb or websites like Priceline, Expedia, and Orbitz, you should let out a sigh of relief thanks to Duetto.
Founded in 2012 by Patrick Bosworth, Marco Benvenuti, and former Salesforce CTO Craig Weismann, Duetto "is a price optimization SaaS that uses big data to dynamically surge or discount rates for rooms. Duetto can help hotels drop prices if no one is visiting their website, or charge more if it detects a conference in town or beautiful weather," according to TechCrunch. Duetto uses a cloud-based system to sell subscriptions for the highest price possible.
What's interesting about Duetto is that it uses data, such as flight times, weather, or hotel demand to predict the price of hotel rooms. If Duetto can use this data to set hotel prices, perhaps other industries--such as car rentals or restaurants--can also use outside factors to establish the price of products or services.
Since 2009, Uber has been shaking up the ride-sharing industry from San Francisco to New York City. The reason that the company is so disruptive is that it isn't exactly a taxi service. As almost everyone knows at this point, Uber matches drivers with people who need rides, and takes a cut of the fare. Instead of just one vehicle and payment option, Uber has various price and convenience levels depending on the wants or needs (or wallets) of customers. Along the way, Uber is battling regulations that have been in place since the 1950s.
4. Hotel Tonight
Another company that is causing a little bit of trouble for the travel industry is Hotel Tonight. It was founded in San Francisco in 2010 and delivers great last-minute deals on hotel rooms. While hotels dread not booking hotel rooms, it's not out of the realm of possibility for travelers to wait until last minute to book a room if it means saving a couple of bucks--which is easier since services are now extended for a week in advance.
While most travelers are used to booking a hotel in advance, they're also aware that they can find a cheaper option if they wait until last minute. Even if this doesn't completely shake up the hotel industry, it won't be surprising if more companies will continue to cater to who wants "everything they need or want immediately."
If you're a serious geek, you've probably been enjoying GitHub for years. For those unfamiliar with the company, it began as a developer's collaborative platform, but has since become "the largest online storage space of collaborative works that exists in the world."
While developers love GitHub--it's even being given away to students who want to write code--it's also used to store anything you are working on as well as any changes made. Whether it's codes for engineers, legal documents, or wedding invitations, GitHub is paving the way for people to more effectively and conveniently collaborate with one another.
You've heard it time and time again, but it's never been more true. The only constant in the universe is change. We're at a time in history when the pace of that change is getting faster and faster, and it's affecting the way society has run itself for decades. It's an exciting time because people from all walks of life can now see and participate in that change firsthand.