The Minneapolis-St Paul Star Tribune has an interesting story on disruptive technology - one of my favorite topics (more here and here). It all starts with the Sony Playstation's new video chips that gave rise in some way to a new laptop sized ultrasound system from GE Healthcare.

To push such product concepts, GE created the position of "disruptive technologies marketing manager."

job was created after "an 'a-ha' moment by GE Healthcare executives who
decided we needed somebody who's not an engineer to take a somewhat
less scientific approach, to think outside the box," said Brandon
Savage, general manager of global marketing for the firm's integrated
information technology solutions.

"One thing we realized is that,
if you want to change the market in a revolutionary way, you must
combine technologies that historically never touched each other,"
Savage said. "Two different industries come together, and you get this
bright idea."

Companies have looked within their own industries
to find new technologies, said David Smith, vice president with Austin,
Texas-based Technology Futures Inc., a research and consulting firm.

trend now is to look horizontally," Smith said. "Competition is forcing
this because product development times are shortening, research time is
shortening. Even the government and defense rides on the back of the
gaming industry today."

So who snagged the job with the cool title?

Mark Morita, GE Healthcare's manager of disruptive technologies
marketing, said he routinely scouts the shows where video gamers show
off their hottest stuff. He attended this month's Consumer Electronics
Show in Las Vegas. He also reads gamer blogs and meets with his
counterparts at Microsoft, Sony, Mitsubishi and other electronics
concerns to exchange ideas and gadgets.

"My whole job exists because of the rise of the video gaming industry," Morita said.

According the person who coined the term, Clayton Christensen, there are two ways technology gets deployed in health care. The first provides experts with ever more sophisticated means to make a diagnosis or provide a therapy that wasn't possible before. While this type of technology is frequently cost effective for individual patients, overall health care costs are increased. Examples that come to mind include 128 and 256 slice CTs and 512 channel ultrasound systems. Alternatively, the other type of technology replaces the former technology with disruptive tech that is markedly less expensive and can be used by non-experts, thus reducing overall health care costs. An example of disruptive technology is NeuroLogica's CereTom portable (and wireless) CT. This low cost CT is designed to be operated by neurologists who then read the exams - all in the neuro ICU.

The objective of most new product development is at least an 80 percent factory margin and high single digit revenue growth. Disruptive technology presents a challenge when costs are reduced as resulting volume increases may not maintain previous revenue levels. There's even a name for this, the "innovators dilemma". You can expect to see established vendors apply disruptive technology around the margins in ways that help maintain margins and increase revenues - but then it won't really be disruptive, will it?

Pictured right is the GE Logiq i, mentioned in the story.