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Disruptive Technology in Manufacturing

Several years ago, I was a presenter at The Army Science Conference. It is a great experience to be invited to these conferences and the subjects range from medical technology to energetic materials (Explosives). It was at this conference and between my responsibilities that I enjoyed a lecture on Disruptive Technology. This one lecture changed my perspective and has led me to dramatic improvements in my own product line, many new patents and improved marketing.

The manufactures of today must utilize Disruptive Technology to break open new markets with products, even before the market has defined the need. Going back to the lecture, it was explained that if a typical development is linear, as in ABCD, then a disruptive technology is gathering the information from ABC and leaping to G. This method jumps years ahead of the progress that others are following and then, if successful, redefines the entire situation. We can use the development of drones in the military as an example of a disruptive technology. The use of stealth technology is another example of a total game changer and of disruptive technology. Using Disruptive Technology can keep the USA ahead of the curve in this time of global competition.

Back on the manufacturing floor, with pressures of time, material and quality it is hard to even take a moment to consider a game changing innovation. A culture and environment is needed that stimulates the people to think in this new way. There is nothing easy about achieving an innovative environment, or getting substantive results. Manufacturers strive towards this goal and often look to the percentage of sales spent on Research and Development to verify that this is a priority. While this may be a standard method, reporting that 10% of gross revenue is spent in R&D does not necessarily guarantee that a culture has been developed that will foster Disruptive Technology. This is why large manufacturers look to small business to develop the new ideas. In small business the people are more engaged in the total understanding of the market and striving to achieve success. This pressure, the broad knowledge of the market and the correct nurturing environment will birth the products and ideas that can be labeled Disruptive Technology.

I have found that disruptive technology may be hard to sell, at least initially. My distributor said to me, “Why would I buy that product, there is no market or requirement”? This statement is both true and false, depending on your view of the future. The very item that he refused to buy has since become the best selling item in our product line. In fact, you may know that you have a truly disruptive technology product when there is initial resistance in the market. Currently I am releasing a new product, private labeled with a large corporation. The item will become disruptive technology and will totally change the market, no doubt in my mind. It took two years of presentations, arguments and testing to verify the theory. It is a difficult effort to convince corporate minds that this really will work, and make them money. When I am toiling in these long uphill battles, I remember back to the one hour I had sat in the lecture hall and the incredible cascade of results from the mind change that swept over me. Disruptive technology is the path forward for innovative companies, are you on-board?

Roy Paulson is President of Paulson Manufacturing Corporation.