1/23/2017 Disr uptiveInnovationandaGlobalMarketplace|ENTELIS
TheAcce ssible and Assistive Technol ogyi ndustryi sund ergoinga period of intense
change ,butitremainschal lengi ngtopredictthei mpactandoutcome softhatchange.
Traditional provi dersface an uncertaino utlook and mustseek ways toresp ond and
regain control asexterna linflu encesi mpactupo nboth design and business models,
driven bytrends intechno logyde signa nduse,p ublicpolicy,changi ngasp irationso f
It has often been said that chan ge is the o nly constant, and therefore some
commentatorssuggestthatthi sperio dofcha ngeis nodi fferenttothose experien ced
in the pa st.Ho wever, whil stw e may have seen techn olog y shift significa ntly in the
past,we have not previou slyfaced the combinedi mpactof suchshiftwith chang ing
busine ssmod els, Itis this combinatio ntha toffers both threats and opportun ities for
thedevelo pmentofAssistivetechnolo gy.
Christense n (1997 ) defined d isruptive techn ologi es as those that di splace an
establish ed techno logy,sh aking up and ind ustry, or wh ich offer a grou ndbreaki ng
product thatcreatesa comple telynew indu stry.H edefin edne wtechno logyi ntotwo
categorie s: sustaining and disru ptive. The former is foun ded up on increme ntal
change to a prove no re stablished tech nology.Whereas disruptive tech nology may
seekto"wipetheslatecle an"offeringanentire lynewmeansoffulfil linganee d.
In many cases e xisting suppli ers tend to favour sustai ning technol ogies, founded
upon the ir knowl edge of wh at has proven effective in the pa st, they evolve
technolo gies ad ding feature s or functional ity. Such co mpanies may struggle to
recogni se and re spond to such disruptive tech nolog ies, and may o nly seek to
replica tesuchinn ovationo ncetheirma rkethasbee ndisrup ted,placin gthecompa ny
Therea remany examples ofdisrup tionoccu rringwi thinthe ATi ndustry.Someofthe
mostobviousha veseenashiftfromdedicated hardware devicestosoftwaresolutio ns
based u pon tabl ets and mobi le phon es. Increasing ly, solutions for those wi th
communica tioni mpairmen ts,low vision, and hearing loss are built upon mobil ean d
portable platforms, and the more radica l are inn ovating thro ugh wea rable
technolo giesand theinternetofthings.
Alongsi dethis,we can observe an equa llyi mportantd isruption tobusiness model s.
Traditional lyATusers purchase dtheirsolutio nswi tha single large upfron tpayment,
major updates were purchased as needed .Becauseofthe level ofin itiali nvestment
required, such payments were often funded through purchases made by public
bodie s.In effect,oftenthe “user” and the “customer” were separate. Current model s
involve movingtolo winitial investment,within apppurchasesorsubscrip tionmodel s
fundingongoing use and upgrades.This combination of technology and business
modelcha ngeisthebasisofdisruptiontotheassistivetechn ologyind ustry.
Innovation is driven from models ofde velopme ntwhe reATcompa nies work closely
with famili ar organ isations such as those uni versities wh o develo p intellectual
property, and then l icence i t on an ope n or propriety basis. But, as glo bal
demogra phics shift towards a n increasin g aging a nd disable d popula tion, we are
expertise andexp erience.Glo bally,wesee therapid growtho fbothIPexplo itationat
universi ties a nd publicl y fund ed business in cubation facili ties. Man y of these a re
supportin gnew approa chestothep roduction ofassistivetech nolog ies.Thisdi versity
M T W T F S S
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1/23/2017 Disr uptiveInnovationandaGlobalMarketplace|ENTELIS
ofne wpl ayers operating beyo nda nytrad itional networks presen tsthe industry with
athowneed saremet,ratherthanconsideri nghowcurre ntsolutionscanbe improved.
Theyareentirel ywillin g,andmotivatedby“wip ingtheslateclea n”.
Respon ding to thi s, is a challe nge to the in dustry. Whil st we can reco gnise the
opportun ityfor radica li nnovation to bene fitpeo ple with a disabil ity. Wecan eq ually
observethethrea tstothestatusquo .
Toaddre ssboth,theindustryneed storespondpositive lyandproactive ly.Indica torsof
riskofdisruption include :
3.Change thataddressescostimperative s
With the chang ing bu siness mode l, the relation ship be tween supp liers and
consumers ischan ging.L owini tialin vestmentand subscriptio nsofferspeo plewitha
disabi litythe opportunitytosele cttheiro wnsolutions andse lffundthese withou tthe
need fortargetedpu blicfund ing.Ascustomers theyactaspa rtofthatcommunitythat
provide both produ ctfeed back and w ider beha vioural da ta that will in fluence any
Howeve r,a second tier of communi tyen gagemen teme rges.The i ndustry needs to
look wi dely at in novations from e merging re searchers, wh o may choose to
dissemin ateo utside ofe xisting acade micn etworks with amu chg reater focusu pon
creating pro ductsra therthan writing resea rchp apers. New ways for the industry to
engag ewiththed evelop ersofpotentialproductswi llben eeded ,reflectingchan gein
the way you ng entrepreneu rs promote their produ cts. These could in clude initial
contact activities su ch as “spee d dating” i ntroducin g devel opers and distributors to
each othe r,seeki ng ini tial in terest upon w hich di scussions ca n be ba sed. With the
scale of po tential sou rces of innova tion, there is li kely to be a role for “trusted
intermedi aries”to producesummaries ofactivityfrom around theglo be,and toshare
thisdatawithbo thsuppl iersan dinno vators.Theuse ofonl ineco nferencing facilitie s
offer the oppo rtuni ty for deve lopers to pitch id eas from any loca tion to in terested
Aswe look ahead weca nsee thatthe relationsh ipsbetween innovators, distributors
andco nsumersisinflux.Those companie sando rganisatio nsthatwil lbebe stsuited
to benefit from these changes w ill lo ok at new wa ys of engagi ng and investing i n
innova tion,whilstrecog nisingamuch closerandintima terelationsh ipwithenduse rs.
Ultimately,we maysee new research consortia formed,ne wbusi nessese stablishe d
and the e xisting in dustry contracting, un dergoin g acqui sitions and mergers and
finding new wayso fdeliveringbo thgood sand associated services tothei ncreasing
potential market.Whilst somemay findthis toogrea tastep totake,others will thrive,
althoug htheirportfoliomaylookradical lydifferentinthefuture.
Post of the month (De cember 2016). By Da vid Banes, David Ba nes Access and
Inclusion Serviceswww.davebanesaccess.org(http://www.davebanesaccess.org )