Clayton Christensen wrote a book in 1997 that created an earthquake in the global business world. His book, The Innovator’s Dilemma describes “disruptive technology” in the marketplace that creates a firestorm of innovation so quickly, that renders known, present technologies is obsolete. It’s the process of a product or service that takes root in simple applications at the bottom of the market and through relentless movement upward, suddenly displaces established competitors.
Examples of disruptive technology is described in these terms to these products: vinyl records were suddenly replaced by 8 track tapes that were replaced by cassettes that were replaced by cd’s that were replaced by iPods. What happened to the Walkman? Look at MP3 players and the iPod. What happened to 35mm film? Look at digital cameras. Kodak thought digital photography was a passing fad but when digital hit the marketplace and stayed and grew, it displaced 35mm film developing with instant photos through digital technology.
How does disruptive technology affect human resources staffing?
Disruptive technologies change the nature of an industry thereby changing a firm’s viability that does not adopt disruptive technologies. Although the technologies may not show immediate results, the sudden change will change human resource staffing in order to accommodate the technology success. The success could reflect lower cost, simpler operation, smaller size and greater convenience. That means technology success will eventually affect HR staffing in terms of decreasing or increasing the size of employee staffing. Either way, HR departments have to be ready for the change and work accordingly to stay up with the technology growth, company growth and relevance in the industry and ultimately, in the marketplace.
Both the intended and unintended effects of specific human resource practices must be considered and firms must be prepared to accept the development of unsuccessful new technologies as well as successful technologies that may develop into disruptive technologies. It is incumbent on the acting firm to stay on the cutting edge ahead of the competition but also keep an eye that employee loads and functions are inline with what is happening with technology. If the HR department does not stay up with the technologies, understaffing or overstaffing may occur, this can affect production and proper output. Bottom line advice to HR departments is to stay with the flow and see success with your company as disruptive technology breaks the competition.