‘Success comes through innovation’

Technology /

This is something that I absent-mildly jotted down in the environmental scanning lecture regarding ‘disruptive technologies.’ Essentially advancements in technology can be classified as incremental which means enhancing the features to an existing product or transformational which is creating a new product. While most firms engage in incremental research due to cost constraints it is widely accepted that transformational products are synonymous with innovation.

However I’ve witnessed something that challenges my perception on disruptive technologies. Theoretically an incremental product will only have only a small impact on the way demand works in comparison to a transformational products. However, I’ve seen a product category that is essentially locked to incremental development. The product category is ‘spot welders’, essentially the product has to change as car materials change, however the basic function and underlying concept of the product remains the same. There is incremental development in the components used such as transformers and resistors becoming more efficient however the product doesn’t fundamentally change. It could be considered that inverter spot welders are transformational products within that category the basic difference between them being an inverter transformer and IGBT driver (opposed to a transistor) however they only came about through the incremental research of spot welders.

So what does this all mean? Well perhaps the distinction between transformational and incremental is arbitrary. That in reality a lot of transformational products are developed thorough incremental research and it’s only in hindsight that the distinction is made. What I propose is that companies don’t focus on incrementally or transformational developing products but conceptually defining what they want to do product before looking at current technology to make it or seeing how technology can be utilized in different ways to achieve it. This systematic method would prevent companies from essentially reinventing the wheel in some circumstances as they consider building their product from existing technology instead of unwittingly creating what already exists.