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How Can You Use IP to Identify Disruptive Innovation Opportunities?

identify disruptive innovationBorders booksellers. Yahoo. MySpace. Blackberry.

If you’re like most people, you read these company names and have a distant memory of their glory days—which, of course, are no more.

Take Borders, for example. After filing for bankruptcy in 2011, the company tried its best to stave off liquidation of its assets and find an investor to give its brand a second chance. The second chance never came.

The company—which relied on huge, sprawling retail spaces and massive physical inventory—couldn’t keep up with consumers in the digital age. These consumers demanded online shopping and the convenience of digital content. Borders responded by opening more, larger retail spaces and expanding their foray into physical media entertainment (CDs, DVDs, cassettes, etc). Executives at Borders found their decades-old business principles and ideas failing to produce results, gain customers or improve the company’s outlook.

Borders’ main competitor, Barnes and Noble, seemed to have a distinct, insightful edge when it came to the digital-savvy consumer of the 2000s. The company developed an e-Reader, the Nook, and invested heavily in promoting and expanding their online sales. And while Amazon is the clear kingpin of bookselling these days, Barnes and Noble is still around and has made drastic changes to their business model to stay competitive.

Of course, it was Amazon (not Barnes and Noble) that ultimately unseated Borders in the bookselling industry. Amazon’s rate of innovation was so savvy and so in tune with customers’ needs that it essentially rewrote the book on selling.

Borders was simply too far behind the innovation curve.

Let’s look at some other companies who failed to innovate or keep up with their competitors’ industry-leading decisions--and were left behind as a result.

Once an Industry Titan, Yahoo Fails to Keep Up

Yahoo, a pioneer of the internet boom in the 1990s and once the most popular website in the United States, is currently in talks to be acquired by Verizon Communications for less than $5 billion. That may sound like a lot of money, but you have to consider that Yahoo was once worth $100 billion--and that the company had declined much more lucrative offers in the past few years alone.

When examining what happened to Yahoo’s value and relevance in the world of internet giants, you have to look at its lagging innovation--especially in comparison to juggernauts like Google and even Facebook.

For starters, it was far too slow to adopt mobile technology. The company didn’t have a mobile operating system or enough mobile engineers to ensure that the company’s mobile presence was top-quality. While Google and Facebook enjoyed huge mobile ad revenues, Yahoo’s mobile revenues were unimpressive, leading to huge company layoffs and talks of strategic alternatives.

Instead of looking at how smartphone users’ habits were evolving, Yahoo looked at what they were already doing and made decisions based on that data. Google and Facebook, of course, were looking into the future.

BlackBerry: When Your Initial Selling Point Becomes the Source of Your Failure

Ah, BlackBerry. It once held 50% of market share in mobile phones the United States. In 2009, Fortune magazine named it the fastest-growing company in the world. In 2017, the company no longer produces mobile phones at all. How did it happen? Simple: the company was disrupted by the innovation of forward-thinking companies that knew what consumers wanted.

Initially touted as the businessperson and government employee’s phone-of-choice, BlackBerry’s utilitarian design and super secure functionality were once its greatest strengths. As the smartphone revolution took hold, however, BlackBerry’s selling points became its biggest drawbacks.

For starters, BlackBerry’s team failed to recognize Apple’s ability to impact its desired market of businesses and government organizations that purchased mobile phones for employees. They also failed to deliver on consumer demands for apps and a more engaging user experience from their smartphones. Soon, the employees who were issued BlackBerries at work were requesting Apple iPhones instead---they loved their own personal iPhones, and using a BlackBerry seemed more laborious and less fun.

By the time BlackBerry began investing in producing beautiful, user-friendly smartphones that consumers would love, it was far too late.

MySpace—Just Because You’re a Huge Company Doesn’t Mean You’re Immune to Huge Changes

Let’s talk about MySpace. It failed for many reasons, but one of those reasons was its slow move to mobile technology.

Not only was Facebook ahead of MySpace in terms of mobile adaptability, it practically led the charge towards mobile-friendly social networking. How did Facebook know that mobile was the future? And why did MySpace fail to adapt to that rapid—and overwhelming—change? The fact that it took MySpace over a year longer than Facebook to roll out a mobile app says a lot about their level of innovation. It also helps us understand why they failed.

Stay Ahead of the Innovation Curve

Imagine that these companies knew what was coming—and acted on it. Imagine that they had examined their competitors’ IP and could see what was coming down the pipeline. Could they have innovated their way out of bankruptcy and eventual obsolescence? Would there still be a Borders in your neighborhood? Would you still carry a BlackBerry instead of an iPhone?

There’s no way to know for certain.

One thing that is certain, however, is the importance of staying ahead of the innovation curve and knowing what your competitors are working on and where your industry is headed. You can do that by identifying opportunities for innovative disruption through studying intellectual property.

IPVision Advantage is a unique dashboard that allows you to see information about every patent your competitor owns. You can even explore patent information on a particular technology.

This information will not only help you stay up-to-date on your competitors’ moves, it will also help you make informed decisions about the rate of your own company’s innovation.

IPVision Advantage will help you become the disruptor instead of the disrupted. Reach out today out today for a free demonstration of IPVision Advantage Dashboard.

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Categories: Disruptive Innovation