When you browse the Internet, do you ever encounter the term disruptive technology or disruptive innovation? It comes across as a negative thing—after all, the root word disrupt is often linked to problems, delays and obstructions. And maybe for some people, it is bad news. But what you might not be aware of is that you are part of the phenomenon called disruptive innovation.

What is it all about?

It wasn't until 1995 that Clayton M. Christensen coined the term disruptive technology, later changed to disruptive innovation, but the idea of it has been around since people started creating devices that were superior to their predecessors. Though the exact definition of it has evolved through the years, the basic concept is that these innovations bring down existing technologies or industries by either adapting to or anticipating the needs of the modern market.

Why is it such a hot topic these days?

Today's technology is such that each new innovation makes further discoveries possible in a shorter amount of time than previously expected. Take for example the Internet, one of the world's greatest game-changers. It has facilitated information sharing and collaboration so that solutions are developed easier and faster. Aside from that, it has paved the way for new technologies and industries such as social media, which, in turn has changed not only the way people do business, but also the rate at which businesses grow.

How are you a part of the disruption?

Here are just five of the many likely ways by which you contribute to the disruption:

1. You use VoIP for communications. 

Thanks to VoIP, you can talk to your friends and family wherever they are without worrying about the cost. Services such as Skype and Viber allow you to make audio and video calls for free as long as both parties are connected to the Internet. On the other hand, businesses make use of VoIP services and the like to minimize costs while keeping their people productive on the go. It's great for you and great for businesses, but for the phone companies? Not so much.

2. You own a smart device.

Regardless of the brand or operating system you're using, your smartphone or tablet is a deceptively small device that packs a mean wallop. Aside from displacing telephones as the main form of communication, it has also lessened the demand for other things like cameras, music players and board games. With apps such as TripAdvisor and Google Translate, you hardly need a travel agent, a guidebook or someone to translate for you. You can do most everything yourself with the help of your smartphone.

3. You read eBooks.

They're cheaper, more convenient to carry even in bulk, and are available at the click of a button. No wonder you might prefer them to paperbacks. On one hand, digital publishing has given aspiring authors a way to get their work out there, but on the other, it's quickly putting traditional publishers out of business. You see this also with newspapers and magazines, some of which have reduced their print publications in favor of more web content.

4. You rent out your spare bedroom or rent a spare bedroom.

Airbnb, the social networking service that allows you to skip on the pricier hotels in favor of homey local rooms, is one of the pioneers of the new share economy, but it's not alone. Whether it's a temporary car, a ride or a repairman that you're looking for, you can find them on the Internet. And if you'd like to make extra cash, you can offer your own services and resources as well. According to Forbes, the share economy turns any person into a “part-time entrepreneur” without having to go through the usual channels.

5. You listen to music online.

Recently, Apple announced the new iTunes Radio, which is just one more music streaming service to add to the mix. Many have already turned to Pandora or Spotify to discover new songs and listen to them on the Internet without having to download them first. These give you a music experience tailored to your preferences, so why still listen to the FM radio? The same thing goes for TV show and movie streaming services like Netflix.

If you think about it, everyone is a disruptor, and everyone needs to be one. People need to challenge conventions and establish new methods. And instead of complaining, businesses should instead adapt to the changes—or better yet, learn to anticipate them.

Author bio 
Monique Jones is an Engineer who deals with telephone systems. Besides being an Engineer, she also works as a part time writer. She helps her colleagues and other people about their communication issues, giving effective solutions to address their needs. 

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