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Washington Technology: Disruptive Technologies

Jan 29, 2003, 10:00 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Joab Jackson)

"Marconi's wireless invention represents what some historians call 'disruptive technologies.' These are technologies--the internal combustion engine, transistors and the Web browser, for example--that not only create new industries, but eventually change the world.

"Disruptive technologies often come from outside the mainstream. The light bulb was not invented by the candle industry looking to improve output. Owners of established technologies tend to focus on making incremental improvements to their own products, avoiding the potential threat to their own businesses.

"Systems integrators, which profit by bringing innovation to their customers, must keep track of movements outside established markets. Something such as the personal computer or the Internet is always just around the corner.

"Two potentially disruptive technologies watched closely by integrators today are open-source software and nanotechnology. Each holds the promise of radically changing the landscape of information technology..."

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