Disruption, the new marketing gimmick and why I don’t care for it.

Before I start, I want to draw your attention to a good friend and marketer, Laura Lilienthal, with whom I've had an interesting discussion about the word disruption. You can read my take on it all below and her take on her blog here.

For some reason, the term “disruption” has entered the marketing and IT lexicon as this new “must have” thing. I’ve ever seen it used on people’s profiles and CV’s where they list themselves as “digital disruptor’s”.

Now, maybe I’m getting old but the last thing I want in my IT dept is anything disruptive. Uptime, predictability (as much as you can get in datacentre), and stability are all key terms for me. Disruption is the very last thing I want.

I was told that it’s referred to as disruptive because of the way it’s disrupting the market.

My response? I don’t care. You can tell me that a product is disrupting the market in the same way that you can tell me that it’ll get my whites whiter and remove more stains at a lower temperature than the next leading brand and that 8/10 respondents agree and I still won’t care.

Market disruption only has meaning to me if it’ll affect the way I work. A good example of this is Violin Memory who disrupted the market by filing for Chapter 11.
I realise that I’m being flippant and that “disruption” is meant to be a marketing term, its meant to show that a new technology is so cool that it’ll change the way you work, except, of course, it won’t. I cannot think of a technology that has changed how I work, I still bash things in to keyboards, I still go to the datacentre, I still deal with outages, I still have to attend meetings. No matter how innovative, cool, amazing and fantastic a tech is, it’s not changed how I work. It may have changed what I do and it may have meant that certain things can be done differently (e.g. VM’s having RAM upgrades dynamically instead of a trip to the DC) but the core of what I do, bashing the keyboard, is still what I do.

Another thing that marketing seems to have forgotten is that if they are using disruption to describe a new product then it can only be disruptive for a very limited time. It’ll show up, it’ll stomp its feet and shout “hey look at me!” and then it’ll fade back into the background because it can only shout and stomp for so long. I keep getting told that pure storage is a “classic case of market disruption when they first arrived”.

Yes, when they FIRST ARRIVED. Now? They are just another storage vendor amongst how many? They may have some interesting tech and I’ll admit that I’ve never used it but if I did I’d still be testing it to ensure that it doesn’t cause me disruption at 03:00.

Another thing to note is that I’m an IT Pro and Infrastructure team lead. My annual budget for tech is £0. I have to get each item signed off individually. My giving “its disruptive!” as a justification will see me laughed out of the signatories’ office.

So, as an IT pro, I’ll never understand this “disruption” thing that marketing seems to love and I’ll be glad when they move on from it just like they’ve moved on from TCO which was the rage just a few years back. Still, I wonder what the next marketing buzz word will be?

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