Lessons from Blockbuster: re-engineer, don’t disappear

Lessons from Blockbuster: re-engineer, don’t disappear

By Ryan McClead

In a recent session at LegalTech NY, I spoke about what I consider to be the great myth of disruptive technology; that we need to be on the hunt for the next big thing to set our firms apart and leave our competition in the dust. This is a fool's errand. As I said in my talk, there is no technology that you can buy, build, or even imagine that you can simply drop into your existing workflow and reasonably expect it to disrupt anything other than your existing workflow.

To illustrate my point I presented the old war-horse of disruptive technology fables, Netflix vs. Blockbuster. At the height of their success Blockbuster Video had 9,000 stores, 60,000 employees, and nearly 6 Billion US Dollars in revenue. Six years later they filed for bankruptcy, and in January of this year they finally closed the last of their US stores. Meanwhile, Netflix video streaming today accounts for more than a third of all US internet traffic during prime time hours, and Netflix is the darling of Wall Street. The moral of this story, as it is generally told, is that streaming video is a disruptive technology that brought down Blockbuster, catapulted Netflix to success, and up-ended the entire video rental industry.

But like most fables, that's just a little too

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About the author:

Ryan is the Manager of Knowledge Systems at Norton Rose Fulbright (Fulbright & Jaworski, LLP).  He has spent the last decade advocating for and implementing, policies, procedures, and tools to improve the flow of knowledge and information across the firm.  He works interdepartmentally to find logical and technological solutions to problems plaguing individuals, departments, and the firm at large.  Ryan is also a regular contributor to 3 Geeks and a Law Blog at geeklawblog.com.