Innovation Isn’t Always About Disruption

The world seems to be obsessed with tech, particularly communication technologies. Nearly everybody is expecting the next ten years to advance and change as much as the last 10 years. Ten years ago we just began getting smart phones, and the app revolution took off. We’re connected in ways we couldn’t imagine, at times more connected than many of us would like.

So the big question is, do the next ten years change even more rapidly than the last ten years, or does progress flatten out for a while. History may provide some guidance.

When our country was founded, we created an incredibly efficient way to communicate across hundreds and thousands of miles. The newly chartered United States Post Office connected the new country and contributed to its ability to manage itself and grow. Around the time of the American Civil War we installed trans-continental and trans-Atlantic telegraph cables, which connected the world in ways then unimaginable. We relied upon the telegraph until the advent of the telephone. Even though telephone service had begun forty years prior, it wasn’t until just before the Great Depression that most of the United States became connected by telephone. We then relied upon the telephone until the advent of being (nearly) always available by cell phone, messaging, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

See a pattern? Is there an +/-80 year cycle to advancements in communication technologies? If so, it may be time to not invest further in communication platforms that attempt to increase connectedness and efficiency. It may be time to invest in making the new status quo work better.

In engineering there is an old maxim that within a system, as one increases efficiency, one also increases fragility. The development cycle usually proceeds as follows. After a period of drastic increase in efficiency due to new technologies, we often unexpectedly discover the bugs and glitches. We look back and see how we’ve become totally dependent on the new thing when the new thing breaks. It scares the hell out of us. We then focus on debugging the new technology or system. Our focus shifts from efficiency to stability.

Fifty years after the post office was created, they were working on making its people, mules, and ponies work even better, while rail service was just around the corner. The telegraph was used for world-wide communications into the 1930’s; however multiple expensive cables required installation over time to increase reliability, geographical reach, and bandwidth. In the 1940’s, vacuum tubes replaced patch cables as switching centers for phone calls were installed. In the 1960’s the transistor began to replace the unreliable vacuum tubes. The transistor wasn’t really the disruptor in this example, but the element adding stability to the existing system.

This pattern isn’t limited to communication technologies. It applies to nearly all innovative technologies.  As the pattern continues, there is a bright future for technologies and platforms dedicated to stability, not necessarily disruption.

For brands and manufacturers, the brave new world of modern technology makes it easier than ever to copy, counterfeit and steal. That was the main reason why we invented a tech platform, Universal Product Registration (UPR), within our manufacturing start-up, Oval Brand Fire Products. We created UPR as a tool to defend our innovative fire extinguishers from counterfeiting, as shoddy counterfeit fire extinguishers are a massive industry problem. UPR is one way to fight back against intellectual property (IP) theft and the brand damage caused by the crime of counterfeiting.

Manufacturers moved production overseas to find cost efficiencies, only to find little respect for their property rights. The efficiency of global communications, modern manufacturing equipment and methods, e-commerce, and time to market makes counterfeiting easier than ever. For IP holders and those with capital at stake, the modern, highly efficient, system has also become risky and unreliable.

We believe that our UPR system is a critical part of adding stability back into the system. UPR gives IP holders and brands a highly effective tool to defend themselves. To learn more about UPR, please visit  By the way, UPR is a revolutionary customer service platform as well, not because it is disruptive, but because it is elegantly simple and gives control of current and relevant product information back to manufacturers and their customers.2