12.13.2005

Disruptive technology and the arts

The folks at strategy+business magazine have an interesting feature to celebrate their 10th anniversary. They asked readers and contributors to select the 10 "most enduring ideas" presented in the magazine over the past decade. Most of the concepts are fairly specific to the corporate world, but at least one applies to the Creativille world view.

Item no. 5 on the list is Disruptive Technology. "Technological innovation radically alters markets by undermining incumbent companies — which are vulnerable because their offerings are all tailored to the needs of their existing customers," they write. Strictly applied to the business world, this points out the problem faced when you do everything for a customer today only to see an upstart offer something radically different tomorrow that trumps all of your efforts. But looking at this from the lens of arts and culture, it's clear it applies here as well. As the s+b authors write, "Thus the makers of personal computers trumped Digital Equipment; Wal-Mart trumped Sears; and downloadable music is trumping the recording industry."

Staying ahead of the creative wave is difficult, but as technology continues to push things in multiple directions at an ever-quickening pace, those who wish to succeed have little choice. That's why the Soderbergh/Cuban film distribution experiment makes so much sense and why the television networks' move to digital distribution is a wise move. It's also the reason why iTunes might become a great benchmark looked upon fondly in the rearview mirror.

The lesson of disruptive technology applies at that macro level, but also can apply at the micro level. Think of new and exciting ways to present your art/entertainment/etc. (and by new and different I mean truly new and different -- something that has never been done, at least in your market), and have patience. If you guessed right, yours will become the new standard. As s+b advises, "
Preempt your own comfort zone, adopting a disruptive technology yourself before others beat you to it."

1 Comments:

Anonymous Andrew Taylor said...

A great warning shot for established professional nonprofit arts organizations, and certainly consistent with the struggles they've been having, of late.

Art, itself, has a tendency to disrupt established authority and static world views. It's ironic that the organizations that host such expression are subject to the same destruction.

11:37 AM  

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