Prof. Cleyton M, Christensen of the Harvard Business School introduced the ‘market’ term called ‘Disruptive Technology, ’. He describes it as a technology that unexpectedly displaces an old technology in such a way that the old technology becomes redundant and is phased out. Introduction of automobiles were an ‘innovative’ technology no doubt, but not a ‘disruptive’ one since, in those early days, automobiles remained an interesting luxury ‘toy’ in the hands of a few, horse drawn carriages were still the norm. But introduction of mass-produced automobile like the ‘Model T’ from Ford virtually replaced the horse drawn carriages and is considered ‘disruptive’.
“The plan is like this, we first take the night train to Madurai, reaching there in the morning.”
“Then we take a car and straight go to Kodaikanal, we reach by noon.”
“You know where I have booked up this time? Guess what, The Carlton.”
I realised that my teenage daughter was not paying attention. Her fingers were busy dancing across the Smartphone, typing out text messages.
“Why can’t you listen at least, I took so much of pain and trouble for arranging this holiday. You are not even interested.” I was visibly upset.
“Ohh papa, I am listening.”
One more time the Smartphone proves to be smarter than a dumb parent.
When I joined my third year of medical curriculum, during the surgical posting, 9 out of 10 general surgical procedures would be some kind of surgery for peptic ulcer. A part of the stomach was removed with cutting off the vagus nerve (which triggers the gastric acid secretion) a technique called ‘gastrectomy’ and ‘vagotomy’. The faster the surgeon, the greater his status.
By 1980, Prof. James Black discovered a novel kind of drug that blocked the receptors in the stomach that resulted in a profound reduction of acid secretion. It was a new concept, acting like a wrong key in the lock. The receptor like the lock got essentially jammed by the drug, making the real key useless and the lock failed to work. The acid in stomach came down.
The implication of the discovery of H2 bolceker drugs (Cimetidine and Ranitidine) were such that by the time I was doing my MD in medicine, routine peptic ulcer surgery became history. Disruptive technology at work in medicine.
Blocked artery in the heart, birth defects, as well as heart valve disease, beyond a stage, were once considered treatable only by open heart surgery, Today, with the advent of the percutaneous catheter-based interventions, a majority of patients go home cured without a scar and anesthesia. Another example of disruptive technology.
Smartphone, I believe, is disruptive technology number one. Not because it made the land phone redundant. It has made sure that family chitchats and relations are destroyed beyond redemption, forever.
I was ready to go to bed.
In the corner of my cell phone the ‘message’ icon was blinking.
“Is Der swimng pool in dat hotel? den tell amma 2 pak d hair straightner:)”
Disruptive technology or disruptive generation?
(The writer is Head, Dept of Cardiology, PRS Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram. email: firstname.lastname@example.org)