Is industry disruption what you are actually trying to achieve?
Clayton Christensen (@claychristensen) popularised the term "disruptive innovation" in his iconic book, "The Innovator's Dilemma", published in 1997. This term describes the approach smaller companies can take to outcompete a larger rival to eventually gain market share and overtake the competition by becoming trendsetters.
The problem with disruption theory, and the term disruption, is that it has become an obsession in business and misrepresented so many times that it now holds an almost irrelevant meaning.
Christensen himself highlights that companies like Tesla, who many claim to be disrupters in the market, are not creating disruption but focusing on innovation.
To be disruptive, a smaller company does not set out to take its bigger rival's core customers but targets the niche demographics at the lower end of the market and moves upmarket to take a share.
What you really want...
When talking to companies about their business plans, project needs and the services they want/are offering, the word ‘disrupt’ seems to arise continually, and we need to realign our thinking early on. We get very few chances to disrupt an industry entirely. Still, we should take every opportunity to completely redefine how customers engage, interact and connect with our products and services by having a consumer-centric approach to digital strategies. It is key to being ‘disruptive’ or what you really mean is innovative… through genuinely gaining customer satisfaction and exceeding customer expectations.
- Tiktok has redefined the way we view social media marketing.
- Amazon has redefined the way we shop online.
- Apple has redefined technology.
- Tesla has redefined the way we view automobiles.
- Zoom has redefined the way we work.
- And Facebook/Meta is currently redefining the way we view social platforms.
Out of all the companies that we talk about in digital & design - Apple, Tiktok, Tesla and Meta have all set out to do one thing, redefine the customer experience setting an incredible industry standard resulting in them being known as trendsetters.
For me, redefining the way we experience something is a far more powerful and positive way of looking at things than setting out with the intention to ‘disrupt’. Disruption and innovation may follow, but first, we have to actively change how we interact, creating positive customer experiences.
Changing customer experiences through consumer-centric design
Regardless of the technology used, the interfaces created, or how we interact with the product or service, it comes down to the creative minds working in the background. Every company with creatives that are great at understanding excellent customer experience by redefining expectations will continue to be successful, see business growth and eventually gain recognition for innovation or disruption in their market.
Redefining is redesigning
There is a lot of confusion surrounding the term ‘design’ - mainly digital design. Design no longer means the colours used or the fonts are chosen; sure, this is aesthetic design, but as Steve Jobs once said:
"Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works."
To redefine customer experiences through digital, we, as designers, must understand and thus rip apart the current expectations within an industry, product or service and focus on designing new experiences. Product design leading to UX and UI design, which creates web design, is more critical than ever.
And by designers, I mean everyone involved. To rethink how a service is offered or create a new solution to make a process more efficient, the way a product looks or how an app feels needs design, design-led thinking, and strategy.
EVERYONE has the capacity to affect and activate ideas no matter how big or small their contribution or influence is; this is part of the design process and starts at the beginning. Redefining experiences requires a collaborative approach to a challenge, a team of people set on unified objectives with a clear understanding of the existing issues which face the customer, a process with new rules of engagement and a broad set of collaborators and relevant stakeholders.
Being one step ahead of the rest
At Rawnet, we involve visionaries, idealists, realists, customers, clients, experienced professionals, technologists, creatives, & strategists. These people being in it together from the beginning means the results aren’t superficial or presumed; they are based on facts, experience & knowledge. This way of working allows us to rapidly test options and investigate ideas, to think up new ways of doing things and offer unique experiences. We have to be inquisitive and experimental to succeed. View our process video here explaining our 4Ds Process.
Thomas Alva Edison, one of America's greatest inventors, has inspired decades of design-led thinking, once said -
"There’s a way to do it better . . . find it!"
Technologies rapid changes, evergrowing customer expectations and the need for services and information in real-time are more important to consider than ever. We have had to learn how to be as agile as possible as a team to work in unison with consumers and clients to bring technology to the market that redefines its audience’s expectations.
Design-led thinking can lead to enormous growth and offer value to customers, which they are yet to experience. We always aim to fuse design-led thinking with commercial understanding to find a better way of doing it.
Suppose the technology we create is regarded as disruptive or innovative. In that case, that is a bonus, but the biggest reward is knowing what we have created offers value to its users and offers them a better experience on all digital channels.