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Disruptive technologies: How far should they go?

Too little and you fall behind, too much and you could ruin the company. So, how far is too far?

There are hardly any businesses nowadays that don't rely on technology in order to operate. But the relentless stream of new technology that has made its way into businesses and homes can sometimes seem a little too much.

Can then, disruptive technologies be too disruptive for businesses that are more keen on getting on with business?

Businesses have already had to adjust to the new realities of cloud computing, mobile technologies and social networking. It wasn't easy, but they did it. Just as the dust in settling on these, other emerging technologies are coming into play. And who knows what effect such further disruption will really have on business operations.

At an event in Central London held by PA Consulting Group in late November, a panel of business leaders and experts discussed how disruptive organisations and their leaders can and should be.

"Sometimes people get carried away with disruption and think you have to be disruptive for the sake of it," said Oday Abbosh, founder and chief executive of Better All Round.

"When its comes to driving change, driving innovation and creative thinking, I would start be saying, what's the purpose of this, what is the real object what are we solving for?"

Innovation for the sake of innovation will not get a company very far, argued Abbosh. He said there were plenty of examples here and, that, a lot of time this is only so that people working on those innovations can feel good about themselves.

He added that any organisation with a business focus should concentrate on what they are doing and why.

Another member of the panel, scientist and broadcaster Baroness Susan Greenfield, said that disruption is only the first stage of creativity.

"You challenge dogma, in technology, you as: 'Why is the engine in the front of the car?'" she said. 

In the second stage you have to bring unusual things together, "you have to join the dots," Greenfield said. But for her, this isn't the complete story, as the third part is crucial, as it has to mean something.

"You can't just have disruption or deconstruction, you have to bring these things together. And, afterwards, this all has to mean something or have a significance or relevance," Greenfield added. 

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