This is What Disruption Looks Like

By Chris Marks

Over the last 25 years, technology has up-ended numerous industries that were long thought to be untouchable. From publishing to retail, from taxis to hospitality, things are starkly different than they were just a few years ago.

During this time, technology has proven to be the great equalizer, wringing out inefficiencies, creating transparency, and leveling the competitive playing field by tapping into the new participation economy.

If you look back at how this innovation has occurred, there is a clear pattern that emerges. First, an enterprising entrepreneur creates a better mousetrap to solve a problem. The new product/methodology/solution is so much more cost efficient that, by its mere existence, it exposes remarkable inefficiencies (if not collusion, price fixing or monopolization) in the existing market.

At first, the new innovation is mocked by the industry leaders as far lower quality (“You get what you pay for” has long been the battle cry of the disrupted). Next, the existing players feel the threat, and, in an effort at self-preservation, join forces to defeat the challenge (disruption makes for strange bedfellows). The first lines of defense are almost always attempts at creating costs and stalling for time — think lawsuits and regulatory challenges.

Inevitably, due to consumer demand, the better solution always prevails. And when it does, a new normal occurs and elements of our daily life are reduced to trivia questions overnight (“What were the yellow pages?”).

The beauty of the clip below, is that it reflects this entire cycle of innovation in the real estate market in less than 3 minutes of footage. And while these realtors put up a spirited (if somewhat comical) defense for the status quo, history would suggest they are fighting a losing battle.