Challenges of Sustaining Technology

September 11, 2023
David Sunnyside

Technology and innovation are the driving forces behind so much of our modern world. However, not all advancements are equal – new developments can either be disruptive or sustaining in nature. Sustaining technologies improve upon existing models or technologies, while disruptive innovations can completely replace them.

Sustaining innovation, as described by the author Clay Christensen in his book The Innovator’s Dilemma, involves improving an existing model of a product to appeal to your best customers with higher profit margins. It can also lead to growth in new markets through better quality, but only when a business can effectively manage the transition. A common example is the laptop computer that followed the desktop computer – the computers’ qualities and abilities were roughly equivalent, but the laptop offered novel portability to customers willing to pay for it.

The challenge with sustaining technology lies in the difficulty of predicting what improvements can be made to an existing product, and how well those improvements will sell. The rapid pace of technological change makes it hard to predict which products will succeed, and which ones will fail.

For instance, the challenge of sustaining information security involves developing effective policies and procedures that will prevent security breaches originating from internal sources. This may include employee misconduct, unauthorized access to company data, or threats from outside hackers. By preventing these types of issues, businesses can ensure a safer product for their current and future customers, while saving money on costs associated with repairs and replacements.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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