Disruptive Technology

Definition of Disruptive Technology

Disruptive technology refers to an innovation that significantly alters or displaces existing technologies, products, or services within an industry or market. As a result, it often creates a new market and value network, outperforming and eventually replacing the current ones. Disruptive technology challenges established norms and introduces novel methods benefiting end-users and businesses alike.


The phonetic pronunciation of Disruptive Technology would be: /dɪsˈrʌp.tɪv tɛkˈnɑl.ə.dʒi/

Key Takeaways

  1. Disruptive technologies often emerge as cheaper, simpler, and more effective alternatives to existing products, challenging incumbent businesses and traditional ways of doing things.
  2. Adapting to disruptive technologies requires a willingness to embrace change, rethink strategies, and invest in new skills and infrastructure to take advantage of emerging opportunities.
  3. Companies that fail to recognize and adapt to disruptive technologies risk losing market share, becoming obsolete, or even going out of business as new entrants take over the market.

Importance of Disruptive Technology

Disruptive technology is important because it challenges, revolutionizes, and significantly impacts existing industries, markets, and business models.

By introducing new solutions, products, or services, disruptive technologies drive innovation, stimulate competition, and often create opportunities for significant market growth and value creation.

This concept is essential in staying adaptable and responsive to the ever-evolving technological landscape.

Not only can disruptive technology lead to the growth of new industries, but it can also transform and improve the way we live, work, and interact within our society.


Disruptive technology, at its core, has the purpose of transforming industries and markets through the introduction of innovative solutions that challenge conventional thinking and widely accepted practices. By offering more efficient, effective, and oftentimes, more affordable alternatives, disruptive technologies create a shift in the established paradigm. Rather than catering solely to the demands of established markets, these technologies think outside the box and target segments that have been overlooked or underserved, leading to a radical rethinking of existing business models.

As a result, this process fosters healthy competition and drives further innovation, ultimately benefiting both consumers and businesses alike. Disruptive technologies are used in various industries to create new markets and simplify processes by redefining standards. A classic example of this is the Internet, which overturned traditional models of communication, commerce, and information sharing.

More recent instances include the rise of cloud computing and artificial intelligence, revolutionizing the tech industry, and Airbnb’s impact on the hospitality sector. As these innovations gain widespread acceptance, they compel existing players in the market to adapt and evolve in order to stay relevant, leading to a ripple effect that fuels ongoing advancement. Ultimately, disruptive technologies not only enhance our lives but drive us towards sustainable and progressive change.

Examples of Disruptive Technology

The Internet: The Internet revolutionized the way people communicate, access information, and conduct business through its rapid adoption in the 1990s and 2000s. It has led to the rise of various new services and applications such as email, social media, and online shopping, while disrupting traditional industries like print media, brick-and-mortar retail, and telecommunications.

Smartphones: The introduction of smartphones, particularly the iPhone in 2007, has disrupted multiple industries and transformed the way people interact with technology. Smartphones combined the functionality of computers, communication devices, and personal entertainment systems into a single handheld device. Industries such as mobile phones, cameras, music players, and GPS systems were heavily impacted, whereas new markets and services such as app stores and mobile advertising emerged.

Electric Vehicles (EVs): Electric vehicles, led by companies like Tesla, have brought significant changes to the automobile industry. They offer a more sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to internal combustion engine vehicles. Traditional automotive companies have been forced to adapt and invest in the development of EVs, while new businesses focusing on charging infrastructure, battery technology, and EV-specific services have emerged. Additionally, the transportation and energy sectors have been impacted by the increased adoption of electric vehicles.

FAQ: Disruptive Technology

What is disruptive technology?

Disruptive technology refers to innovation that significantly changes the way a market or industry operates, displacing older methods and leading to the development of new products and services. It can alter existing business models, create new markets, and render old technologies obsolete.

What are some examples of disruptive technologies?

Examples of disruptive technologies include the internet, smartphones, social media platforms, blockchain, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing. These technologies have transformed various industries, such as communications, entertainment, finance, and retail, by introducing innovative products and services.

What makes a technology disruptive?

A technology is considered disruptive when it offers a more accessible, efficient, or cost-effective alternative to existing products or services. In addition to transforming consumer behavior, it may also require companies to adapt their business strategies, rapidly evolve, or risk being left behind by competitors.

How do disruptive technologies impact businesses?

Disruptive technologies can have both positive and negative impacts on businesses. Early adopters may gain a competitive advantage by embracing new technologies and optimizing their business models. However, companies that are slow to adapt may face revenue losses, shrinking market share, and the risk of becoming obsolete. Additionally, disruptive technologies can create new markets and opportunities for startups and innovators.

How can companies prepare for disruptive technologies?

Companies can prepare for disruptive technologies by monitoring emerging trends, investing in research and development, and fostering a culture of innovation. It is essential for businesses to stay informed about potential disruptors within their industry and to embrace change by incorporating new technologies and ideas into their strategies. Encouraging collaboration, continuous learning, and staying customer-focused can also help companies stay ahead of disruptive trends.

Related Technology Terms

  • Innovation
  • Early adopters
  • Industry transformation
  • Emerging technology
  • Market disruption

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