Disruptive Technologies

What are Disruptive technologies?

In my last post about building mindshare I referenced a blog posting where users were talking about hot disruptive technologies and 2ndSite was throw in into the ring alongside blockbuster Flickr.  We have known that 2ndSite is a disruptive technology for some time now.  Many 2ndSite users recognize 2ndSite’s disruptive characteristics (see the list is below), but few of them are familiar with the concept of disruptive technologies.  Allow me to explain – and I’m going to take the long route.

Last Friday I was interviewing a 2ndSite user as I do when I want to “check in” with our clients and see how people are making use of the service.  Frank is an entrepreneur who runs a technology services firm.  As the conversation meandered further and further from my interview questions (as entrepreneurs are known to do!) we began to discuss where Frank sees market opportunities online today. He began to tell me about this idea he had a few years back start developing what he called “ZappApps”.  In essence “ZappApps” are scaled down versions of software that help Frank (and others) do specific tasks – applications that are devoid of the feature bloat that makes many software applications complex.  2ndSite is a scaled down application like this.  It is a tool that is simple, but helps you get done what you need to do.  For example, when I asked Frank to compare 2ndSite to QuickBooks he said, “2ndSite does 10% of what QuickBooks does – the 10% I need.”  Great feedback Frank, but that still does not explain what a disruptive technology is… Or does it?  I asked Frank if he was familiar with the concept of disruptive technologies, he said he was not.

The term “Disruptive Technology” or “the disruptive start-up” was coined by Clayton Christensen.  Clayton is a Harvard Business School Professor and the author of bestseller of “The Innovations Dilema: When new Technologies are Great forms to Fail”.  Clayton does consulting for companies (most often large, far from nimble gorillas) to help them incite and harness the power of innovators within their organizations. He defines disruptive technologies as products or services that answer the following questions with a “YES!”

PROOF THAT A TECHNOLOGY IS DISTRUPTIVE

1.
Is there a larger population of less skilled, or less wealthy customers that could be pulled into the market?

2.
Can the product help people get something done better that they’re already doing in their lives today?

3.
Is the product UNDER developed (i.e. lacking some features)?

Here is another definition of disruptive technologies

Disruptive Technologies exist and thrive in a market “beneath” the current market’s offerings.  They are commonly cheaper (some times free!) and less robust (see above) and for these reasons they appeal to a huge audience who just wants a simple tool to get their tasks done – nothing more, nothing less.  Blogger.com is a good example of a disruptive technology, so is Flickr. 

So, if these are the traits of a disruptive technology, then both 2ndSite and Frank are on to something.  Perhaps the best  example of an Application Service Provider (ASP) that is disruptive is Salesforce.com.  This is the business model 2ndSite “subscribes” to (subscription billing model…I couldn’t resist).  I suspect you will see many “ZappApps” or “disruptive technologies” popping up over the next few years and with good reason.  “ZappApps” are cheaper, work better and get things done faster.  Isn’t that what we all want?

If you would like to learn more about disruptive technologies or about Clayton Christensen, have a look at this article from Inc.com titled, “The Disruptive Start-Up: Clayton Christensen On How To Compete With The Best“.  It’s part article and part interview and overall a great read.

Building Mindshare

How do you build mindshare for your product or service?

THE PROCESS

STEP 1 – Create a quality product or service.
STEP 2 – Get the word out to the influencers or the information authorities (reporters, industry analysts, experts).
STEP 3 – Wait (a.k.a. keep working your butt off).

RESULT = Mindshare

So, why the focus on mindshare today?  2ndSite is really beginning to win some battles for mindshare as an eCommerce application of merit.  Here’s an annecdote to support this.  I spoke on the phone with a customer last week.  He told me 2ndSite is the leader in online invoicing.  After two weeks of research he signed up and paid.  This individual had compared 2ndSite with 6 other companies.  I thought to myself, “that’s nice to hear…”.  But that is not the evidence of mindshare.  That is the opinion of one user based on his own research.

For proof of mindshare, have  alook at this posting (be sure scroll down to the bottom):

http://ask.metafilter.com/mefi/23371 (note: SecondSite is 2ndSite)




August 30, 2005

1999-all-over-again-Filter: Remember the time when every ecommerce site or online exchange had an interesting twist? I am trying to compile a list of current clever/interesting/”disruptive” ecommerce sites or exchanges. Companies like CafePress, CDBaby, and Band.Mix would all qualify. Can anyone help point me to some additional examples of ecommerce sites that reach previously fragmented or diffuse groups?
posted by blahblahblah to computers & internet at 11:05 AM PST ( )

woot.com
posted by skwm at 11:22 AM PST on August 30

Don’t forget Lulu
posted by jacobm at 11:24 AM PST on August 30

And Threadless the t-shirt place. And of course Netflix, so successful it’s easy to forget, disruptive enough that it changed the way Blockbuster does business.
posted by jacobm at 11:32 AM PST on August 30

Etsy for handmade items. (I actually found this from mathowie’s blog.)
posted by smackfu at 12:17 PM PST on August 30

These are great, keep ‘em coming. Does anyone know of any still existing interesting b-to-b sites?
posted by blahblahblah at 2:00 PM PST on August 30

flickr
basecamp
SecondSite
SlickDeals

But maybe I missed the meaning of the question…
posted by Wild_Eep at 2:15 PM PST on August 30

If Cafepress and Threadless, then Pixeltees and Neighborhoodies, right?
posted by box at 3:42 PM PST on August 30

PSPrint.com?
posted by missmerrymack at 5:16 PM PST on August 30

We know 2ndSite is a disruptive technology, but we did not tell that guy! Here’s what one of 2ndSite’s advisors Jerry King (MBA, Consultant) had to say about the post:




It’s gotta be nice to be mentioned in the same breath as Flickr (~:  I first heard of that firm last fall and then again this spring when it was sold for untold millions. 

 

jk

It’s not all bad, I’m not gonna lie to you.

Now, have a look at this comment from a thought leader with whom we recently advertised:




Hi Everybody!

2ndSite, this week’s sponsor, provides a very cool web- based invoicing service that is extremely affordable. They’ve advertised before and I took a brief look at their service, but that was it. This time, Michael McDerment from 2ndSite sent a sample invoice to me so I would understand how easy paying the invoice and using the service in general would be. Good move because, wow, it is neat.

I told him to send one to Jennifer to see if she thought it was any good. She’s always one-upping me on cool stuff she sends to me, so I thought her response was funny …. look at the ad because they included it.

Have a great week!

Robert Clough

That was the introductory note to a newsletter that went out to 21,000 small businesses businesses and internet professionals.  This is what Jennifer (Robert’s editor) had to say about 2ndSite:




From: Jennifer Laycock [mailto:jennifer@xxxxxguide.com]
Sent: August 23, 2005 4:14 PM
To: Michael McDerment | 2ndSite Inc.
Cc: Robert Clough
Subject: Re: heads up…regarding invoice

Michael,

I just got a chance to look around a bit at the sample invoices that you sent over. I LOVE it! I can’t believe that I didn’t know this existed. As a consultant that HATES bookkeeping, I can imagine how handy something like this would be.

Can you give me a general summary of the service? Why did you create it? What’s the run-down on cost? An overview of features? I’d like to create a post on this for the Search Engine Guide blog. I think that a lot of small SEM shops would be interested in it and I know that our small business audience would be.

Thanks!

Jen
Editor, Search Engine Guide

She then blogged about 2ndSite here:

http://www.searchengineguide.com/searchbrief/senews/005446.html




 Do You Forget to Invoice Too?
Posted by Jennifer August 23, 2005

One of the most difficult parts of the job when it comes to small search marketing shops (or any small business really…) is remembering to send your monthly invoices. Robert passed along a link to me earlier today to point out a great service that helps make this problem go away.

Full Disclosure: – Note that the following company is one of our advertisers. That’s not why I’m blogging about them, but I want to be up front about it.

2ndSite is a great tool created by Michael McDerment and Joe Sawada a few years back. Basically, they were in the same boat that most of us were…they needed an easy way to handle their invoicing. So, they created a tool to solve that problem. You can enter client billing information, send invoices via email, set up auto-billing for recurring charges, and even track your project hours.

Pricing is pretty impressive. It starts out with “free.” No really, if you’ve got ten clients or less, there’s no cost to use the program. Prices go up from there, but top out at about $20 a month, even if you’ve got a thousand clients. Not bad, eh?

I just finished setting it the free version to handle a couple retainer consulting deals that I have. Looking forward to not having to remember to send an invoice every month.

Check it out: 2ndSite.

Robert and Jennifer operate and influence significantly within the SEO community.  What is the significance?  Another influencer, Kalena Jordan of the SEO University picked up Robert’s endorsement.  Read to the bottom be sure to see how she is influencing her readers.

Groovy Software for Small Business




 

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Groovy Software for Small Business


I love it when I find new software that saves me time and energy promoting my small business. Today I found a ripper: 2ndSite. It’s an online invoicing, employee timesheet, help desk and file sharing product bundled in one. And it’s free!

Best of all, it plugs into QuickBooks, PayPal and 2Checkout so now when I need to bill a client, I simply refer to the client’s accrued campaign hours in the staff timesheets, create an invoice in 2ndSite for billable hours and press send. The client is automatically sent an email and given a link to login, view and pay the invoice on the spot via the method that best suits them. If they don’t pay, they are sent an email reminder. If they do pay, I get a notification and the payment is recorded within the system.

Clients can login anytime to review their account balance, lodge a support ticket or upload a document for our review. Our staff can prepare invoices, share files, enter hours in their timesheets, access client information, prepare and review client reports and access the support ticket area. The whole system is customized in your choice of colors and branded with your own logo.

I’ve been playing with 2ndSite all morning and it’s already saved me hours of work. It’s fully functional and free if you have 10 clients or less, but even the professional version we use is less than USD10 per month. Do yourself a favor, check it out!

Thanks go to Robert Clough for finding this gem.

 

posted by Kalena @ 2:11 PM    


2 Comments:

Bishop said…

I’m just getting into 2ndsite, and digging it for sure.

It seems like it’s a great solution. I’ve been looking at Blinksale to, but it doesn’t have the depth of features, like integrated payment gateways.

I plan on trying to funnel a good bit of services into 2ndSite like hosting and domain names. Wish me the best :)

Thanks for leaving your opinions! They’re encouraging.

12:37 PM  
Kalena said…

You’re very welcome. I’ve only found one negative aspect of the program so far and that is the inability to deal with multiple currencies. But the team at 2ndsite have helped me overcome that by splitting my clients into two accounts, one in USD and one in AUD. Can’t ask for more than that!

1:54 PM

Why is 2ndSite experiencing this?  Because it is a solid service, the right people are now learning about it, and we’ve been at it for a while now [recall STEPS 1-3]. 

Finally, it is not just in blogs where 2ndSite is gaining the mindshare of influencers.  Check out this recent forum post:

http://mograph.net/board/index.php?showtopic=4574

I’ve got to run…sometime I’m going to create a post dedicated to 2ndSite blog and forum reviews….but there is no time for that now…till next time.