You may have heard the term but what it is it? And what does it mean to me? If you are reading SSD then you are most likely a member or student of the profession of arms. Pay attention here dear reader because pretty soon we are going to introduce you to what we consider a disruptive technology that may very well challenge our primacy in a particular facet of warfighting.
“Disruptive innovation is a term used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically by lowering price or designing for a different set of consumers.”
The concept of Disruptive Technologies was coined by Clayton M. Christensen in his 1995 article Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Wave where he defines a disruptive innovation as a product or service designed for a new a set of customers.
“Generally, disruptive innovations were technologically straightforward, consisting of off-the-shelf components put together in a product architecture that was often simpler than prior approaches. They offered less of what customers in established markets wanted and so could rarely be initially employed there. They offered a different package of attributes valued only in emerging markets remote from, and unimportant to, the mainstream.”
While the idea was applied to how technology affects markets, it can just as easily be applied to warfighting. Wired’s “Danger Room” blog wrote a piece awhile back talking about how enemy belligerents can outsource or improvise their way into being a niche competitor with the US. Check out this PowerPoint briefing by Booz Allen Hamilton that illustrates this point. Commercial access to satellite imagery could be considered disruptive simply because an entirely new set of players have access to what was once the sole purview of the most advanced nation states.
As Moore’s Law makes high power computing more accessible to the masses, it becomes more difficult to maintain a technological edge. As commercial technologies are adapted for military and intelligence purposes, it becomes even more troublesome for the United States who has long maintained a distinct advantage.