Small businesses and startups are often able to take early advantage of disruptive technologies well before big businesses do because they are lean and agile. Zipcar (now owned by Avis) thought up “wheels when you need them” before the car rental industry did. It was Uber, not a major taxi fleet, which put a personal cab dispatcher in the hands of everyone who owns a smartphone. These companies took advantage of an opportunity in order to gain a competitive advantage in a previously commoditized market.
We asked three influential SMB consultants for their take on how and why small businesses are using disruptive technologies to create big impact, here is what we found out:
Gary Bizzo, an author and small business consultant, notes that “disruptive technologies make things easier and cheaper so it’s here to stay. Rather than improving on products, disruptive technologies create a new and better alternative. True disruptive technology is coming from new players in unexpected places leaving market leaders in a scramble to either catch-up, innovate or create their own technologies.”1
Small business and technology evangelist, Ramon Ray, believes that startups have a couple of advantages over the bigs, namely that they’re faster and nimbler, which are attributes that “big companies will have to adopt.” Ray also foresees that “b
A small workforce can also help a company be more innovative. Without the burden of existing infrastructure, it’s easier to change and experiment with new tools and technology.
Jackie Nagle, the founder of Synnovatia, an SMB consulting firm, views it this way: “the majority of the older companies are too big, too mired down in process, paperwork, and red tape to leverage disruptive technology. They’re not nimble enough. By the time they’re ready to move forward, technology will have moved on.”3
Both Bizzo and Nagel agree that small business culture may also give them an edge. Being personally invested in your work (and often having a financial stake) and being on a first-name basis with the founder can help attract and keep talent.
Disruptive technology is a game changer. While big businesses have big resources, it’s difficult for entrenched organizations to innovate. Small businesses and startups have the agility to exploit the potential of disruptive technologies and, time and time again, they’re doing it.