The ultimate disruption: when new technology wipes out an entire industry

The last decade has been characterised by one word: disruption. With new technology not only changing the way industries work, but in some cases replacing them altogether…

We are living in an automated, tech-heavy world, but it’s one that has been inspired by the mistakes of previously successful big-business. Technological jumps would never have been possible were it not for strong, workable ideas that worked outside a virtual reality too.

Successful companies today are superseding the big business of yesterday by listening to what consumers want.

Here are examples of how entrepreneurs can make their business go viral by looking to replace a service consumers already like, simply by moving it online and working out how it can be improved. 


Blockbusters is a perfect example of a business that had a great model but didn’t quite fit into the digital world. They realised that nobody wanted to buy every film or TV show they watched - instead they wanted to go to a store and browse the racks, reading the back of the cases and planning a chilled out evening in.

This has been replaced by Netflix, who took advantage of people’s desires but cut out the boring bit - namely, driving to the store, parking, and then queuing, just to pick a DVD. The idea of leaving the house to get DVDs sounds bizarre even now. In this case Netflix, founded in 1997 as a DVD subscriber service, listened to what the market wanted and now has 74 million subscribers with revenue of $6.77bn a year.


Instagram has replaced Kodak simply by tapping into the one thing that everyone is after during their leisure time - convenience. Initially released on October 6th, 2010, Instagram now has over 100m active users. Again, it boils down to the fact that we want things on demand. 

Rather than wait for our photographs to be processed at a pharmacy and pay a fortune for the privilege, now we can snap an image, modify it ourselves (no more red-eye) and share it with the wider world in fewer than 10 seconds. Instagram has taken our desire to be instantly creative and made creativity more efficient. Although Instagram has been called narcissistic, how different is it from being invited round to view your uncle’s holiday snaps of Cornwall? The only difference is you can don’t have to turn up.


Since the birth of the internet, technology has capitalised on online shopping. Now you can install apps that mean you don’t even have to go outside. Amazon’s app means you can purchase a TV in fewer than four clicks. The best shopping apps like Net a Porter, ASOS and Amazon means that once again, the online marketplace has replaced large out of town megastores. 

With an annual revenue of £107bn and millions of users across the world, Amazon is an example that early harnessing of the internet (it was founded in 1995) and a well-designed and well-developed app, can lead to enormous business success.

The Friday night chippy

Going out with dad to get chips on a Friday night and queuing up to get a portion of chips, fried fish, and a battered sausage, has now been replaced by a number of streamlined delivery apps. From Deliveroo, which offers up food from some of the most popular restaurants across London to Just Eat and Hungry House, these apps realised that convenient food needs to be even more efficient.

They also realised there was a gap in the market the places offering fast-food weren’t necessarily serving healthy food or good quality dishes people were craving. Not everyone wanted a quick curry or bag of fried chicken, but quite a lot of people wanted a healthy balanced diet without the chore of cooking.

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Please see for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.


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