Every so often the business world will take over a word and keep trotting it out until it becomes a cliché. I think it’s got that way a bit with ‘disruptive’.
These days, anyone with a new product is going to ‘disrupt’ the market. I suppose it’s a bit more dramatic than just saying they hope it will take some market share from existing players!
But overusing the word lessens the impact it ought to have – some technologies genuinely have disrupted the way that industries operate.
Think of innovations like the internet, or smartphones, or mobile phones before them.
And right now, there’s one technology that’s putting all others to shame. Today, I want to talk to you about how it’s transforming industries and one of the businesses trying to capitalise on its disruptive potential. Let’s have a look.
This is what a real disruptive technology looks like
The technology in question is the cloud.
Let’s just quickly remind ourselves of what the cloud is all about.
Basically, it allows people to store data in a remote location but still work with it wherever they might be based. So rather than doing everything on your own IT infrastructure, you rent it from the cloud instead.
A basic example of this is the Chromebook I’m using to write today’s Penny Sleuth on. It’s a laptop, but doesn’t have any software like Microsoft Word loaded onto it. Instead, it uses a web browser to access my files which are stored on Google’s servers in some faraway place. I can edit this document using any machine with an internet connection and I don’t have to worry about backing it up or making copies.
And those generous people at Google don’t charge me for the service!
Paid-for cloud services lend themselves to a rental model – you pay for what you use. So companies are able to turn what used to be big capital expenditure bills into a monthly operating expense. And instead of running a big IT department to maintain all that kit, a lot of the work is outsourced to the cloud provider.
The bottom line is that it can be a cheaper and more efficient way of doing things. And that’s exactly what Aim-listed company Forbidden Technology (FBT) is trying to get its customers to wake up to.
How the cloud could transform video editing
The market that Forbidden Technology is aiming to disrupt is video editing. There has been an explosion in the amount of video being generated with the advent of digital.
In the professional video world, satellite TV channels and the internet have transformed the demand for content. And just as more airtime needs to be filled, the amount of editing needed to produce some programmes has mushroomed. I was amazed to hear that six hundred hours of video can be shot to produce just a single one-hour programme in the world of reality TV.
Given the quality of what hits the screen in this genre, I dread to think what gets left on the cutting room floor!
By being able to edit in the cloud, users of Forbidden’s editing service save time and money. It allows the move from expensive editing suites to real-time editing on site. For example, the initial rough edit of reality TV footage can be done straight away for a significant saving. Sports footage can be captured and edited online and posted into the distribution network.
The big hope is that increased adoption of the cloud by its customers will finally provide Forbidden with a commercial breakthrough. The company came to the market at the top of the dotcom boom, but it’s taking an awfully long time for it to generate meaningful revenues.
So what’s the outlook?
Big ambitions and a big opportunity
Given the adoption of cloud technology in other industries, the market should be moving Forbidden’s way.
But it’s all taking longer than expected. It’s one thing to have innovative technology in the B2B (business-to-business) world; it’s quite another to persuade your customers to disrupt their established ways of working.
Forbidden is determined though. The company is making a push into the enormous US market in an effort to make the breakthrough. This winter will also see it launching a consumer app which exploits its video editing technology. This is an ambitious project that aims to generate millions of monthly active users.
It’s clearly a big market – Vine, the six second video sharing app, became the most downloaded free app in the iTunes store last year.
Forbidden has lots of video editing expertise, but it will be interesting to see if it can successfully get its app onto enough consumers’ devices.
Listening to Forbidden’s story, I’m reminded that there are plenty of companies out there with great technology and the potential to be a ‘disruptive’ influence. Their challenge is to persuade the market to embrace that disruptive process. Sometimes it just happens – consumer demand forces it through and companies have no choice. In the B2B world, the timing can be a lot harder to influence.