Disrupt online markets like you mean it!

It has occurred to me that any offline process yet to be fully adapted to the way we actually use the internet is ripe for disruption. I’m talking about cases where the initial application ‘copied’ to digital constitutes a low-end disruption, and the "more adapted" version (if and when it evolves) launches a new market disruption.


(you can view a pretty good explanation of this disruption process at work here and hear from Clay Christensen, the man who coined the term “disruptive innovation” here)

Take email for example. It was an offline process (sending a letter) ‘copied’ to digital, but it is yet to fully adapt itself to the evolving nature of internet behaviour. There are millions of new generation internet users who will never have an email address, ever! How will they manage? New market disruption examples might be instant messaging, social networks or other online means of communication. My bet is it’s probably being created by some tech-head in a basement somewhere.

On a side note: why can’t I buy a stamp online?

You can apply this same theory to the new crowd-sourcing models, banking, shopping, media…the list goes on.

This type of trend isn’t new. Consider the invention of the television. For the first 10 or 20 years, all you saw on TV were theatre and radio shows. Exactly the same, just shown on a TV. As society adjusted to this new medium and viewing habits evolved, we started to see “made-for-TV” programs and television took on a whole new wave of disruption.

The internet is just another information medium and is similar to the invention of the television in the way industries evolve. We saw magazines, newspapers and brochures on the internet for the first 10 years and then the world started to adapt to how society uses the internet and content began to evolve. Web2.0 paved the way for user generated content and exponential growth.

Our start-up company eQueue has discovered that the same problem exists in online engagement, particularly with regards to generating research data. Offline process, converted online, yet to adapt (a survey is a survey, a focus group is a focus group etc). However, we actually went about disrupting another online process, queuing (‘lining-up’) for things in high demand.

We created a data and research platform that actually adapts itself to how people use the internet, only we didn"t mean it.

In the beginning of the internet, it was simple; find an offline process and duplicate it online. Now the challenge is to look for processes that have already been duplicated but are yet to be adapted. To achieve this, you need to come at it from the view of the user.

The good news is that when the next wave of online evolution comes about (I"ve heard Web3.0 bandied about for long enough now, surely!), disruption will happen again. If you can spot which industries are slow to adapt, you"ll be ahead of the pack.

Venture Capitalists are normal people. At least, some are.

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