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Why did Intel get right out of the left field with Will.i.Am?

 How to deal with ‘left of field’ disruptive innovation

In 2011, tech giant Intel announced Will.i.Am as their new Director of Creative Innovation. The announcement was suitably exciting but vague, and left a lot of tech-heads wondering why the world’s biggest maker of chips and microprocessors was interested in teaming up with the innovative thinker from the ‘Black Eyed Peas’.

On a disruptive world stage, we need to make like these guys

As Larry Downes and Paul Nunes observe in their piece Big Bang Disruption: Strategy in the Age of Devastating Innovation, now even the idea of disruptive innovation has been disrupted.

Whereas once disruption meant that a lower-end product could chip away determinedly at the bigger player, now that model can be disrupted in mere weeks.

In cases such as the abrupt change from navigation tech Garmin to free App Google Maps, change can occur swiftly, out of left field, and with no warning.

Since their first announcement, Intel and Will.i.Am have released the The, a smart wearable that calls, texts and works independently of a smartphone. With Bluetooth, a SIM card, voice recognition, and music streaming, the is far more advanced than most in the very busy wearables market today. Seems they were doing more than just spinning discs. Perhaps Gizmodo pieces like this one could have cooled their jets a while before passing comment.

According to Downes and Nunes, disruptive innovations are not even calculated:

“Big-bang disrupters may not even see the incumbents as competition. Disrupters don’t share the incumbents’ approach to solving customer needs, and they’re not interested in offering a slightly better price or performance with hopes of gaining a short-term advantage.”

But they do move fast.

In many cases, and just like Intel teaming up with Will.i.Am, the disruptors affecting your industry may not even be in your industry.

They may just be savvy operators who can see an opportunity. With no time to adjust your existing business plans, keeping an eye out, as well as being light on your feet, is the best way to survive:

1. Look out: Learn to recognize the warning signs and use new tools to do it. What will you use?

2. Find the straight-talkers: They may be in or outside your business, but these people can see change coming a long way off. Where are yours?

3. Learn to listen: Not only do you need to listen to the straight-talkers, you need to know when and how.

Look to the innovators like Intel and Will.i.Am and get moving – fast.


What’s disrupting your industry that you need to move on?



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