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The Progress of Innovation

Pardon the Disruption

Peter Diamandis in his book Bold discusses the 6 D’s framework, and writes about how technology can progress through a sometimes predictable path on its way to having a significant impact at scale across the globe. Understanding this framework can create potential opportunities for businesses to innovate, look ahead to the future, glean insights and build solutions that can capitalize on the technology in question. “The Six D’s are a chain reaction of technological progression, a road map of rapid development that always leads to enormous upheaval and opportunity,” says Diamandis.

Understanding the growth cycle of digital technologies can support innovation efforts with an eye towards future growth prospects. The 6D’s of exponential growth include:

  1. Digitalization: Once something goes from physical to digital, it gains the ability to grow exponentially. Digital information is easy to access, share and distribute.
  2. Deception: Initial exponential growth is in such small increases (.01 to .02) that it goes largely unnoticed or seems slow to grow before exponential growth kicks in.
  3. Disruption: Either a new market is created, or an old one is overturned. You either disrupt yourself, or you are disrupted.
  4. Demonetization: Money is increasingly removed from the equation as the tech becomes cheaper. The major assets in the industry will become free. Free music, free reading, free communication.
  5. Dematerialization: Removal of the original physical product entirely, lumping alarm clocks, cameras, notebooks, and phones into one smartphone, for example.
  6. Democratization: The costs drop so low that the technology becomes widely available to everyone.

Hyping the Disruption

Additionally, Gartner’s Hype Cycle is another framework that often coincides with the 6 D’s. This framework can graphically represent the maturity and adoption of technologies and applications, and how they are potentially relevant to solving real business problems and exploiting new opportunities. Showing how the technology will evolve over time, it can further provide a sound source of insight to manage its deployment within the context of your specific business goals, notes Gartner.

Each Gartner Hype Cycle drills down into the five key phases of a technology’s life cycle:

  • Innovation Trigger: A potential technology breakthrough kicks things off. Early proof-of-concept stories and media interest trigger significant publicity. Often no usable products exist and commercial viability is unproven.
  • Peak of Inflated Expectations: Early publicity produces a number of success stories — often accompanied by scores of failures. Some companies take action; many do not.
  • Trough of Disillusionment: Interest wanes as experiments and implementations fail to deliver. Producers of the technology shake out or fail. Investments continue only if the surviving providers improve their products to the satisfaction of early adopters.
  • Slope of Enlightenment: More instances of how the technology can benefit the enterprise start to crystallize and become more widely understood. Second- and third-generation products appear from technology providers. More enterprises fund pilots; conservative companies remain cautious.
  • Plateau of Productivity: Mainstream adoption starts to take off. Criteria for assessing provider viability are more clearly defined. The technology’s broad market applicability and relevance are clearly paying off.

Defining Disruptive Innovation

Explored in a post on All Things Innovation, disruptive innovation is often a phrase used to make a splash in the business world. Some may debate that the label has been applied carelessly at times to anyone shaking up the market. Yet, just what makes an innovation disruptive? It depends on your point of view. But some make the case that it still remains a gradual process of change, as a smaller competitor gains a foothold in a low-end or new market, and moves its product upmarket to challenge the incumbents. Disruptive innovation encompasses a transformation at the core of the business and the marketplace.

So is disruption innovation theory dead? We don’t think so, but there are many factors at play regarding the competition between an upstart challenger and an incumbent company over a product or service. “Disruption theory does not, and never will, explain everything about innovation specifically or business success generally,” writes the late Professor Christensen, one of the original architects of the theory. “Far too many other forces are in play, each of which will reward further study. Integrating them all into a comprehensive theory of business success is an ambitious goal, one we are unlikely to attain anytime soon.”

Deploying the Framework

So how can an organization focus on their innovation while leveraging the 6 D’s framework? We asked ChatGPT this question and received six more D’s in reply: develop, digitize, disrupt, deploy, data driven decisions and diversify. To be sure, these frameworks are easier said then done, but deriving some knowledge into the future needs of your company offers invaluable insight.

  1. Develop: Develop the necessary strategies, processes and tools to understand how exponential growth will impact your business.
  2. Digitize: Invest in digital technology that can help increase efficiency, reduce costs and improve customer experience.
  3. Disrupt: Look for new ways to disrupt traditional models by leveraging cutting-edge technology or deploying innovative services or products that offer unique value propositions to customers.
  4. Deploy: Implement those disruptive technologies quickly and effectively so you can stay ahead of the competition and maximize opportunities for growth as they arise.
  5. Data-driven decisions: Leverage data analytics to make informed decisions about future investments, product development, marketing campaigns and other business operations that may be affected by rapid changes in the market environment due to exponential growth.
  6. Diversify: Diversifying your revenue streams is essential when dealing with a rapidly changing market landscape due to exponential growth—consider expanding into different markets or launching new services/products related but not directly tied to your core offerings.

The Digital Roadmap

The recently released Innovation Spend & Trends Report, brought to you by FEI and All Things Innovation, showcases how innovation leaders are changing mindsets, shifting priorities and spending allocations as they balance their innovation efforts with the current economy. Of note and in regard to the 6 D’s framework, many innovation executives have digital transformation, and artificial intelligence, on their minds as they weigh in on the issue of advancing technology in their data capture, analysis and visualization needs.

In fact, just under two-thirds of the community list digital transformation as the biggest opportunity for the innovation discipline. It seems that the innovation discipline is being tasked with taking digital transformation forward. While that might not necessarily lead to disruptive technology, the digital transformation efforts of many organizations in the field could provide a link and a pathway to the 6 D’s roadmap, leading to more innovative products in the future. Leading to the questions, what will the next tech disruption be and how will it impact society?

Video courtesy of Peter H. Diamandis


  • Matt Kramer

    Matthew Kramer is the Digital Editor for All Things Insights & All Things Innovation. He has over 20 years of experience working in publishing and media companies, on a variety of business-to-business publications, websites and trade shows.


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