What is Disruptive Innovation? In Conversation with Daniel Burrus

The dizzying rate of digital acceleration can make it difficult to keep up with all the trends taking place. Fortunately, businesses can learn about the trends, what disruptive innovation is and how to use it – all while staying focused on those that really matter.

Daniel Burrus, Best Selling Author, and Strategic Business Consultant at Burrus Research, Inc. is one of the leading thinkers in this space, and helps businesses navigate the difficult landscape of disruptive innovation. He’s been essentially living in the future and on the cutting edge of innovation for more than four decades now – so we were delighted to get the chance to speak to him for the latest episode of The Eye of AI! Listen to the full interview here, or check out the highlights in our summary below.

What is disruptive innovation?

In short, disruptive innovation is exactly what it implies. It’s when our routine way of doing things is disrupted, and that resulted in innovation to adapt to the changes. For example, the worldwide covid-19 pandemic was extremely disruptive, and forced many of the most recent innovations, which have become part of everyday life.

However, change is difficult for most people, as human beings generally value consistency over uncertainty. It’s especially hard when these changes are forced by circumstances or factors outside of our control, which we don’t initiate ourselves.

The pandemic required that many aspects of life go digital, so people could keep working and accomplishing important tasks. As a result, more than 25 key AI technologies were subjected to massive acceleration, and in a very short amount of time they experienced an advancement of between eight and 10 years, according to Burrus.

Exponential change is being seen, and that means exponential opportunity. But taking advantage of that opportunity is vital, in order to see as much success as humanly possible. For businesses, becoming a positive disruptor matters.

Hard trends and soft trends

There are always trends coming and going. The issue is that some of them will “stick” and most of them won’t. If you want to be successful, you need to know which trends are going to stick around, so you can be sure you’re backing the right opportunities. Hard trends are based on future facts that are going to happen, while soft trends are based on assumptions. Trends only fall into these two categories, and are either hard or soft.

For businesses trying to assess the landscape for the best trends to follow, or lead, Burrus has the following advice. Watching trends can be boring, but the way to make them interesting is to link them up with an opportunity. That’s what makes a trend actionable.

The good news about an actionable soft trend is that it’s easier to change if you don’t like the result of your actions. It’s not set in stone the way a hard trend is. On the downside, trends may not take off the way you’d hoped, and that can limit your opportunities with them. The level and type of risk you’re taking is what people have to consider, no matter what type of trend they get involved in.

How to fully grasp new opportunities

To take the most out of disruptive innovation opportunities that have value to you, you need to be ready to take action and build on positive disruptions when they come around. There will be a lot of new things to do, and that means that some things can become obsolete or have to be let go. But what’s good to let go of, and what needs to be kept? Burrus believes you should not let go of the things that matter to you, in pursuit of new ideas.

Businesses should also look closely at automation. Repeating tasks is a waste of time and resources – and accomplishes nothing positive. By automating the tasks that can be, you’re freeing yourself up time and money for positive disruptions and opportunities, and there’s never been a better time for those things. A lot of the old ways are gone now, and even though change can be hard for people and businesses, it’s also not going to stop happening. By freeing yourself of the things that ground them, companies are able to be more open-minded and ready to tackle what comes next in life.

A big thanks to Daniel for sharing these insights with us! For more, catch the full interview below: